Lambert: Everybody at the Club is Suffering
Wednesday, 4th Mar 2020 00:38
Boss Paul Lambert admitted everyone at Town is suffering after the Blues fell to a dismal 1-0 home defeat to Fleetwood at a late press conference having spoken to his players at length in the dressing room after the match.
Sub Ched Evans netted the only goal of the match five minutes before half-time with the Blues rarely looking like getting back on terms as the Portman Road crowd turn hostile towards Lambert and owner Marcus Evans with Town’s promotion ambitions now looking in tatters.
“Everybody’s suffering, without a doubt everybody’s suffering, the whole football club, supporters, players, staff. Everybody’s suffering, press guys because the club’s not winning,” Lambert said.
“The first half, I don’t think was good enough. The second half was better, we had a few chances to get a goal back, but it never happened.
“They controlled the game in the first half, I don’t think we penetrated enough in the first half, so we changed it in the second.
“We lost our whole midfield from Saturday due to injury and suspension, which didn’t help us. Young Brett [McGavin] had to come in and did well, he was drafted in this morning.
“But the club, we have to win games, the expectancy level is huge on us, and we’re finding that hard to deal with.”
Lambert had said it was a must-win game and with nine games left he knows time is running out for the Blues.
“We have to win now. We have to win most of the games, we have to win to give us any sort of chance to get in that play-off,” he conceded.
“But you never quit, you never give in, you’ve always got to get that feeling, when adversity hits you you have to come through it.
“They might not feel like it at the minute but when they do come through it they’ll be better players for it, especially the younger guys. Even the older guys, they’ve taken a helluva lot of responsibility on their shoulders.
“Because the weight [of the pressure] to win a title is totally different from just trying to stay in another league. The difference between going to win something and having to try and win something is totally different from mid-table.”
Lambert and the squad were roundly booed at the end when they walked to salute the Sir Bobby Robson Stand but regardless of the reception the Blues boss believes it was important for his players to acknowledge the supporters.
“Even though they weren’t having it, they have to go and appreciate the support,” he continued. “We have to appreciate the support. As I said before, you have to appreciate the support, the support comes in its numbers to win, you have to take it.
“As I said to the lads, ‘Take it, what’s happening at the minute, and come through it. As long as you never, ever quit, that is the most important thing. Don’t quit, because you’ll come through it’. Whenever that is that they come through it, one month, two months, three months, four years, five years. If you come through it, you’re a better player for it.”
Regarding the crowd reaction, he added: “It’s not the first time I’ve ever had that in my life. From a footballer’s point of view, I’ve played for massive clubs where your life, not just the football, your life was under scrutiny.
“The pressure at the clubs I’ve played with was astronomical, your life was under scrutiny, not just on the football pitch. For me as a person, I can handle nearly most things.”
But he admits his players aren’t as used to it: “They’re not, you’re 100 per cent right. For some of them it’s the first time it’s happened to them. The first time they’ve experienced this suffering and what it’s like.
“But when you do come through it you’ll be 100 times a better player because you’ll know what to expect when you don’t perform, especially when you’re at a big club.
“And you’re right what you’re saying, it’s the first time of asking for some of those guys. When you’re going for a title or you’re expected to win a title, it doesn’t matter what league you’re in, the pressure is totally different from staying in a league. Totally different.
“Survival is different, sitting in mid-table is totally different but when you’re asked to go and win a title or promotion, it’s a totally different thing, especially if you’ve not experienced it before and if you’ve not been able to handle it before. It’s a totally different make-up.
“And with a fanbase that’s big, you have to get a mindset that’s strong, a strong mentality, be strong-willed through adversity, through good times, even when you do well and you get the praise, let it go, you get criticised, let it go.
“Never ever dwell on it because if you keep on dwelling on things good or bad, if you dwell on things that are good, you might think you’ve arrived. If you dwell on things when you’re bad, it takes you under.
“We’ve got young guys in there who are experiencing for the first time, older guys experiencing it for the first time. So, it’s totally, totally, totally different.”
He says players learn through adversity: “You have to. That’s what makes you as a footballer, that’s what makes you as a person. When you come through these sorts of thing, it does make you better, because I’ve been through it.
“I’ve been through it as a player, I’ve been through it as a manager. One thing you never do is give in, you’ve still got to keep going.”
Town’s form has seen them win just four of their last 24 in all competitions over 90 minutes, a record which Lambert accepts is far from good enough.
“Absolutely, but you asked me that last week, so it’s exactly the same answer I’ll give you,” he reflected. “It’s not good enough that, for the football club. It’s not good enough for the football club to get relegated from the Championship. That wasn’t good enough.
“It wasn’t good enough for the football club to get relegated but that’s where it is and you can’t change that. The club should be 100 times better than it is at this moment, without a doubt.”
Asked how big a failure it would be not to make the top six, he added: “It’s huge but, as I said before, even at the start of the season we never had a divine right to say we were going to bounce back up. All I said was that we’d give it a right good go and that it would be really, really tough.
“The guys haven’t experienced this type of football before a lot of them. The guys are young.
“The level of expectancy is huge. The only way to deal with that is through experience. They have to experience what they’re going through because it’s not just going to be given to them. They have to experience it.
“But everybody suffers with it. And when you do suffer with it and you do turn the tide, then don’t forget what the feeling’s like because it’s always round the corner.”
Will Keane said on Monday that the players were letting Lambert down, does he believe the players are playing for him at present?
“I think you’re looking for unbelievable negativity with it all,” the Town boss responded. “All I can say is the guys give me everything in training, they do everything I can ever ask of them.
“When they go over the white line they have to go and play. One thing I’ll never do is chastise the players because I know how hard the game is.
“The guys are giving everything they’ve got, they’re busting a gut to try and turn it around. But, as I said, I’ll back them to the hilt, the guys, never chastise them. Yes, we don’t play well, we lose, but I’ll never, ever criticise them.”
At the end as they made their way from the Sir Bobby Robson Stand end back towards the tunnel, Lambert was consoling skipper Luke Chambers who looked distraught.
“Because Luke has been here for a long, long time and the young guys will feel it but so will those guys, the experienced guys, they’ll feel it as well,” Lambert explained.
“It’ll be a new thing for Luke as well, so it’s important that those guys don’t have the feeling just like the young guys because the experienced guys are going through the exact same thing the young guys are going through.
“You can see how disappointed they are, the older guys. We were without eight first team players injured and suspended today and Freddie and Bish just coming back as well and not quite ready to start two games but the two of them did well when they came on.
“But when you wipe out your midfield from Saturday, that’s a big chunk of your team. But we have to win games, I’m not disputing that at all.
“We haven’t performed. Two months ago we were in the top six, had never come out of it from the start. We were top at the end of January.
“Again, the expectance level and I knew this would happen, once guys started to see the finishing line and they get ramped up and ramped up, they have to handle that.
“This club will always have this, that’s not going to go away, it’s always going to have that, it’s always going to have a fanbase.
“As I said before, you have to take the criticism when it comes and you have to take the praise when it comes, but never get too carried away with either of them because the criticism does unbelievably hurt but what you do is you bag it up and once the tide turns, you have to throw it back and hopefully that’s what will happen.”
Does he feel he’s capable of turning it around, the poor run of form having stretched back to November.
“Yes, I’ve been through adversity before,” he insisted. “As I’ve said, the guys give us everything. We have to start to win, that’s not rocket science, we have to start to win games.
“Fleetwood, that attack can score, it was a similar goal against Oxford on that side and we got caught.
“The second half was slightly better because we had chances and Freddie came on and gave us a little bit of impetus on that front. But you’re asking Freddie who has been out for just over a year, the lad hasn’t played many games.
“He did great at Blackpool but I couldn’t really risk him to go again tonight but 45 minutes will have done him the world of good.”
Regarding Cole Skuse and Emyr Huws’s absences and their chances of being fit for Saturday, he said: “Cole was a strange one because we never knew until after the game, and he never knew until after the game that he had a gash in his shin and needed stitches in it, so we couldn’t take the risk with that in case it opened up and got an infection.
“Emyr was right out of the blue this morning with his toe. He went for an x-ray this morning with his toe, so that was a major blow as well. And we have Flynn suspended.
“That was the whole midfield from Saturday, so hopefully we’ll get one or two back on Saturday.
“Kane Vincent-Young’s not too far away, same with Danny Rowe but they’ve been out for a long, long time.
“The bonus is Freddie and Bish coming back and getting more game time. Is that too little, too late? I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see how those guys come through.”
Lambert was asked if he’d seen owner Marcus Evans after the match: “I saw him before the game. I didn’t see him after it. I very rarely see him afterwards because he leaves early or he’s with people but I always speak to him after [matches later on]. I’ll speak to him later tonight or tomorrow, which I always do.”
Asked about the chants and Blue Action banners bearing the words unambitious, underfunded, underachieving and unacceptable in the Sir Bobby Robson Stand, Lambert said: “I don’t like seeing things like that to anybody, I don’t think it’s conducive to help everybody, it’s not nice.
“As I said before, if Marcus Evans wasn’t here and there was nobody going to take the club on, where does the club go? What actually happens to it? Same as Bury maybe? I don’t know. Maybe.
“He’s been here 12 years and I don’t know what level he’s put in. One hundred million? I don’t know. People say you don’t own a football club but that’s not the answer.
“As I say, everybody suffers. One guy is to blame or this guy’s to blame, through the years there’s not one blame attached to anybody, this happens, [at] football clubs, it happens.
“As I said before, Sheffield United were in this division for five years, Nottingham Forest have been in it, Leeds United have been in it, Southampton. And some of them it wasn’t the first time of asking, it can take time but you have to take the hit when you’re in it.
“But the thing is that you have to stick everything together and you have to get recruitment and everything right to bounce back up.
“The lads need a little bit of help, there’s no two ways about it, they need a little bit of help.”
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