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O'Neill: Lambert a Part of the Club's Plans Going Forward
Tuesday, 9th Jun 2020 18:25

Town general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill has confirmed that manager Paul Lambert is still “a part of the club’s plans going forward” despite confirmation that the Blues ended 2019/20 in 11th place in League One on unweighted points per game, their lowest finish for 67 years.

The Blues were among the clubs to vote for the season to be played to its conclusion behind closed doors but the vast majority of their fellow third tier sides opted to end the campaign early, largely due to financial concerns regarding the cost of staging the fixtures and coronavirus testing.

“I think we’re bitterly disappointed with the outcome from the results today,” O’Neill told BBC Radio Suffolk (3hrs 31mins 14secs).

“It was slightly expected from the information that we were getting that not many teams wanted to carry on the rest of this season for genuine reasons, which we understand.

“But disappointing from our point of view to finish where we have and not get an opportunity to see out the season.”

O’Neill says Town, who were 10th in the table as things stood when the season was suspended due to the coronavirus crisis on March 13th but dropped a place as they'd played a game more than Gillingham, were keen to continue as he believed they had a chance of breaking into the play-offs.

“I think for us we had a good run-in, we had five home games and a number of our players who have been out injured are actually available and fit again,” he added.

“To have our full squad able to compete, like we did at the start of the season when we were on our run, would have really helped our surge towards the end of the season.

“So from that point of view we wanted to play out the rest of the season and make that play-off spot.

“The games would have gone ahead behind closed doors as they are planned now with the play-offs. We know that would have been incredibly difficult with the testing regimes that are put in place for both clubs and players to make it as safe as possible to allow us to finish the season.”

Reflecting on Town’s 11th place, which was well below fans’ early season expectations and a huge disappointment given the Blues had been top as recently as January, O’Neill admitted it is far from good enough.


“No, that isn’t what we set out to do at the start of the season, so from that point of view it is bitterly disappointing, from the club’s point of view, the players’ and, more importantly, the supporters’,” he said.

“Our target was to try and make the play-offs this year and we’ve fallen short of that. We’re disappointed with that but we’re using that frustration and that anger, if you want, to focus on our plans for the up and coming season the following year.”

He says the financial impact of the current situation is as yet unclear: “We’re still working through that. Although the information has come out on not finishing this season, it’s not really clear yet when next season’s going to start and what that’s exactly going to look like.

“I think the financial implications, until we can gauge whether supporters are [allowed] back in the stadium to watch football, it will become incredibly difficult for a number of clubs to look at operating costs.

“There is a concern there in general, and that’s across most businesses I think now. We need a little bit more information from the EFL as to how and what next season’s going to look like so we can start making sure we put the plans in place.”

And Town’s own situation won’t be helped by a second season in the third tier: “Obviously the revenue from media rights and stuff like that is less in the league, so that all helps contribute towards the budget that we have available for players and staff, so being in League One for another season is definitely not where we want to be as a football club.

“From our point of view, we need to be out of League One and back in the Championship as quickly as possible. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Asked whether there might be cutbacks or the likes of Flynn Downes and Luke Woolfenden sold, he said: “From our point of view we need to try and maintain and keep our better players for as long as possible.

“The idea being that we’re trying to build and grow the team. It’s a lot younger, good players are coming through and we want to keep hold of them.

“Economically, we’ll look at everything as the next season becomes a little bit clearer and we know exactly what that’s going to look like. At the moment it’s very difficult to plan operationally because we don’t actually know when it’s going to start.”

Nigel Clough recently left his role as Burton boss as the Brewers sought to cut costs and O'Neill was asked whether Town manager Lambert, who signed a five-year deal in January, might follow him in departing with a number of fans having called for a change at the top in the wake of this afternoon's confirmation of the season's early end.

“No, Paul and his staff are a part of the club’s plans going forward,” O’Neill insisted. “We’ve got a lot of work to do in developing the squad and making them better and we’ve got to reflect on what went wrong, particularly in the last few months of the season.

“For most of the season we were in and around the top six and to fall short in the last few months we’ll have to look at things from that point of view.

“We’re behind the first team manager and all the staff and we’ve got to do better than what we have done as quickly as possible.”

Regarding compensation for season ticket holders for the five home games which weren’t played at the end of the season, he added: “As the club made in a statement made via Marcus a few weeks ago, now we have that information that the season has come to an end, it’s something that we are going to look at and address with the season ticket holders.

“There are lots of things that we need to do now and it was waiting for that information as to whether we were going to be able to get the games played and show them what that was going to look like or not.

“And now we have that information it’s [a case of] further talks and conversations with those season ticket holders as to what we could do going forward.”

He says returning to the Championship remains the main focus, although when the players might return to training is as yet unclear.

“That is our ultimate game, to get back to the Championship as quickly as possible,” he said.

“The players are now technically on the off-season but they’ve been off for so long it’s difficult to work out the timings of when they’re going to return and when we need to get them conditioned to be able to play football when they do return, and obviously with all the procedures in place to make sure it’s safe to do so.”

O’Neill says that although the vote didn’t go the way the Blues wanted, at least he and owner Marcus Evans now know what the immediate future holds.

“I think from that point of view, the decision on whether this season is going to resume has been going on for such a long period of time that, yes, it’s disappointing that we aren’t going to be part of that play-off and promotion campaign for this season, but to get closure and drawing a line under this season at least we know where we’re at,” he said.

“I think I’m still a little bit anxious and trying to plan ahead because we don’t know what’s going to happen next season.”


Photo: TWTD



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Bluearmy_81 added 18:27 - Jun 9
Puppet for the muppet
8

goat_man added 18:33 - Jun 9
Excellent. More of the same next year then...
5

Sixto6 added 18:35 - Jun 9
Going forward !!! Funny Lee really funny !!! 🤦🏼‍♂️
2

ITFCsince73 added 18:39 - Jun 9
Lambos a big part of our “New 5 point plan”. Honest Guv...straight up.
4

rgp1 added 18:46 - Jun 9
All this talk of change of manager whether it by Dyer burley or uncle tom Cobbley I don't really care. What concerns me more is how did a team ( with as many say the best squad in the league) capitulate into the rubbish we witnessed before the lockdown. But then again that's the sort of question that no media will ask and no club official will answer!
8

phil_itfc_brown added 18:47 - Jun 9
what a farce.. they actually think we would have pushed for a play off place??!!.. deluded.. Lambert is the worst manager in ITFC history.. we wont be near the top next season either.. i actually thought we would walk the league this year.. how wrong was i!! but once a blue always a blue!! ITFC till i die!!
3

jas0999 added 18:48 - Jun 9
Lambert isn’t good enough, but sadly the diabolical decision from Evans to give him a five year deal remains one of the most baffling decisions during MEs tenure.
12

ArnieM added 18:50 - Jun 9
Well if Lambo doesn't change his ways "going forward" we are fooked!
10

dukey44 added 18:52 - Jun 9
Another comment from another joke of out leadership team.. 😁🤣🤣 Lambert to stay 🤣🤣
10

delias_cheesy_flaps added 18:53 - Jun 9
"Reflecting on Town’s 11th place, which was well below fans’ expectations, O’Neill admitted it is far from good enough."
"But Lambert is still part of the clubs plan going forward"

Talk about making your p!ss boil.....he is quite clearly not up to the task but lets alienate what little fan base we have left shall we!
6

Chrisd added 18:53 - Jun 9
We don’t seem to be going forwards though Mr O’Neil as a club, if anything we seem to be regressing and sliding further downwards. The club needs to have a huge look at itself both on and off the pitch, things just aren’t right and haven’t been for quite a while now.
12

Bluearmy_81 added 18:57 - Jun 9
Jas, I'd go as far as to say one the the most baffling and plain stupid decisions by a football owner in the history of English football. Mind bogglingly stupid
6

ArnieM added 18:58 - Jun 9
….and " we are waiting for the EFL to give us more information regarding when next season will start" GOOD LUCK THERE THEN !!!
4

TractorCam added 19:00 - Jun 9
25 points in our last 25 games, that's relegation form Mr. O'Neill. Another masterplan from the circus.
9

jong75 added 19:09 - Jun 9
There will still be a majority of ITFC fans that will back Lambert, buy season tickets and believe every word they are told by evans and O'neill. The only way for change or for evans to take the fans seriously is for the fans to say enough is enough. Fans wont be allowed in the ground for a while, but i still know people who have comitted to their season tickets regardless. Good money after bad.
4

Michael101 added 19:23 - Jun 9
How can you not be surprised when a few weeks ago they have skuse a contract.same shy#e different day.
12

Karlosfandangal added 19:25 - Jun 9
Have to say I don’t really care anymore.........they are talking of £30 million to compleat 2 divisions and yet the Prem get £340:million if they complete.

Football is dead outside of the Prem......... Ipswich will never have the money to match the prem...any team could buy Downes in the prem £7 million is nothing to them but it’s enough to keep Town going to the wall.......there will be loads of team fold because of this.
11

TractorCam added 19:26 - Jun 9
“Our target was to try and make the play-offs this year and we’ve fallen short of that".

On the 6th February, O'neill said: https://www.twtd.co.uk/ipswich-town-news/37797/oneill-squad-is-competitive-enoug

We're being taken for mugs all the time.
5

DifferentGravy added 19:32 - Jun 9
His managerial record speaks for itself
5

trncbluearmy added 19:34 - Jun 9
Year on year decline and the tone of this interview makes it obvious why,no direction,no ambition, no plan whilst abusing the loyalty of Town fans who have put up with years of excuses and decline

All very sad and unfortuantly will only get worse unless personnel and attitudes change
8

bernie added 19:45 - Jun 9
Come on the man is clueless ( Lambert that is ) I remember earlier in the season when the fans were questioning Lambert and his reply was he knew what he was doing 😂and the team would benefit later in the season with all the the team selection and the postponement of games , where did we end up , 11th what a joke and let’s be honest the Coronavirus has save his job !! Because if the season had carried on and the team continued to struggle the fans wouldn’t of put up with it much longer well I hope bloody not !! Even when we were doing well at the start of the season we weren’t playing particular well and most fans would agree . Let’s hope he’s learned by his mistakes and they were his mistakes , he had the squad !! And I’m not a evens hater far from it my only problem with mr Evans is that he’s gave Lambert a 5 year deal . Mr Lambert needs to stop telling us what a big club we are and what a big fan base we’ve got , we know that !! Be even bigger if we had a good manager and sadly I don’t think he is . Hopefully I’m wrong but I doubt it . Up the town and before anyone starting going on about my support for the club I’ve been supporting the town for 45 years and I always will .
9

hadleighboyblue added 19:49 - Jun 9
Mr Lambert has been very quiet lately , so we get the usual rubbish spouted by others wheeled out to the press . It's time ME realised he needs to make changes now . The whole club needs to change , we are on a very slippery slope and the current complacency will just make things worse .
Get in a manager that can get more out of the players and is tactically aware and get a leader on the pitch who has passion during the game , not after it .
4

Mark added 20:11 - Jun 9
It is abysmal to finish 11th in League One, below even Gillingham. How can the manager survive falling so short of the club's objectives, especially after failing to keep us in the Championship last season.
5

istanblue added 20:26 - Jun 9
''So from that point of view we wanted to play out the rest of the season and make that play-off spot.''

O'Neill you absolute clown. Does 1 win in our last 9 games sounds like play-off form!? We had no chance. I'm utterly sick and tired of the BS that comes out from the club to cover for failure year after year after year.
4

midastouch added 20:27 - Jun 9
Rewarded for failure. Sadly that's a been a key theme in our demise for too long. Perhaps the headline should be renamed:
O'Neill: Lambert a Part of the Club's Plans Going Backwards
6


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