Lambert Not Giving Up on Top Two Finish
Friday, 28th Feb 2020 10:58
Town manager Paul Lambert insists the Bues haven't given up on a top two place, despite being ninth, nine points behind leaders Rotherham and second-placed Coventry. Lambert’s side have 11 games left to play, as have the Millers, while the Sky Blues have 12 matches remaining.
Town are three points off the top six and the Blues boss says he is confident that his team can still finish in one of those places, despite recording just four wins in their last 18 League One matches.
“Aye, I always am,” he said. “We’ve got everything to play for, there are a lot of games to play. As I said before, let’s see what happens come May.”
Is an automatic place beyond the Blues? “No, you go for everything. Until somebody says it’s mathematically impossible, you go for it.
“If we can get in the top two, great. You go on a run, great. There’s going to be a helluva lot of twists and turns in this league before anything is decided. You never give up until somebody says it’s not possible.”
Lambert believes his squad is capable of picking up the results required in the final few months of the season.
“Absolutely, we’re still in the mix,” he said. “We have to break that barrier of the fear factor at home. We definitely have to get that [out of the way].
“The away form has been really, really good. We have to break the barrier at home. But football-wise, I’ve watched the Oxford game back and we had four clear-cut chances to put the ball in the net and we lost the goal with their first attack really.
“We had four great chances and when you have that dominance you have to score. That’s it in a nutshell.
“If you play well like that, you’ve got to score at that moment. If you don’t do that it puts pressure on everyone.
“We have to take our chances, we’ve got to have that freedom, the lads have got to have the freedom to go and play, to make mistakes, which is fine, but you’ve got to be able to handle the expectance level.
“I’ve said that before, you’ve got to be able to handle that, but football-wise, especially in the first half, and it was the same at Sunderland, in the first half there we were totally dominant. You’ve got to score when you’re on top.”
Lambert was asked whether the most galling thing at present is the Blues having got themselves back to the top of the table in January only to fall away to their current position.
“Aye, but I said to you at the beginning there are going to be bumps and bruises along the way. I was never carried away because we were [top],” he said.
“We’ve only really come out of the top six the other week, we’ve been in the top six all season, so I knew we were doing really, really well but I knew there were twists and turns going to happen.
“I knew we were never going to be maintain the start because it’s a tough, tough league and with injuries and the amount of games we had, but we’re still in a position to do something ourselves.
“We don’t need to rely on anybody else, we’re still in a position [to do something ourselves]. As a football player, manager or coach, you want things in your own hands and if you’ve got that, that’s half the battle.”
Quizzed on whether he has a target for the number of wins required from the final 11 fixtures, he reflected: “I think we just tick them off game by game. Go to this one and try and win it, try and win Tuesday, try and win Saturday. I think that’s the way we do it.
“You want the guys to be free in their heads to be able to play, just go and have the freedom to go and play. Don’t worry about anything else, just enjoy playing football. You do that and the results will come.”
What does he believe has been the biggest factor which has seen the Blues drop from top to ninth? “I think the expectancy level at the club, because football-wise we’ve dominated a helluva lot of games. But you’ve got to score when you’ve got that dominance.
“The level of expectancy, especially at home with so many people coming, some of the guys aren’t used to it. You can go through the experienced guys with that as well.
“You have to be used to that pressure of trying to win something. Football-wise, there’s been a helluva lot of good stuff, chances, incredible. That’s just fine margins. If you take care of that then you’ll be up there.”
Lambert believes the squad will benefit from the experience: “Without a doubt. The way I view Ipswich Town, even if I wasn’t here and I was coming to the stadium to watch a game, in the eighties you knew Ipswich Town was a huge club, you knew the size of the stadium, you knew the level of what you were coming in to.
“So when you sign here or you play here, you have to be able to handle that whole scenario, that’s what comes to the table. You play here, you have to handle that.
“For me it’s not a problem because I played with big clubs, I had that all my life, this sort of feeling. But for these guys it’s new, a lot of these guys, even the experienced guys, it’s new for them. Big club, big fanbase, big expectancy level, that’s new.
“But once you master that, you can virtually go through anything. It’s just having that initial [period]. And to answer the question whether they will be better for it, 100 per cent they will be.”
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