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Lambert: You've Got to Look at Yourself
Wednesday, 10th Jun 2020 11:08

Boss Paul Lambert says there were “one or two things” he would have done differently during Town's curtailed 2019/20 campaign, in which they finished 11th in League One, their lowest position for 67 years, and admits “you’ve got to look at yourself”. The Blues manager is aiming to "put it right" next season, although is currently in the dark about when that might start.

In a wide-ranging interview with Radio Suffolk (3hrs 9mins 10secs), Lambert again expressed his frustration that the EFL took so long to come to a decision on whether League One should be played to its conclusion or curtailed and decided on unweighted points per game, as was finally confirmed yesterday.

“I think the length of it has been shocking, I’ve said that before,” he said. “I thought the way it was handled was really, really poor. I don’t think there’s ben great leadership and if the Premier League plays and the Championship plays then League One and League Two should play.

“The issues go right down the pyramid really and I don’t think it’s a good thing to curtail it, I don’t agree with the points per game system and I said that when we were even in the play-offs.

“We were sitting first at the end of January. Two months, February and March, have certainly cost us. Darren Ferguson up at Peterborough [missed out on a play-off place due to points per game having been sixth] and Wycombe go in. It’s not a fair system.

“It should have been sorted sooner, that’s the thing. What’s absolutely apparent and evident is that the game’s nothing without the supporters, 100 per cent. You look at the Bundesliga, which I’ve watched quite frequently and done some TV work on, without the fans it’s not a game.

“You need the fans to come in and Ipswich being the only team in the town, it’s so important the community’s right behind it and we’re going to need them, without a doubt. The football club’s going to need the supporters.”

Lambert says that at present he doesn’t know when 2020/21 might start or when the players need to come back to train.

“Not officially, that’s the frustrating thing,” he added. “Obviously the season’s been curtailed now but the start date, you’re hearing different dates, whether it’s September, but that’s us playing. I don’t think fans will be allowed in at that time until everybody’s safe, and I totally get that.

“And you’ve got the added thing of the testing as well. You’ve still got to get tested. I think there’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge before we can say when we’re going to start.

“There’s got to be a lot of heads together and talking, we’ll have to get tested, that goes without saying, and the next step is to try and get supporters back into the stadiums when it’s safe.”

The Scot isn’t a fan of playing matches behind closed doors: “Without the supporters, that’s the game, the game is for them. The game is for the fans, they come and they generate the atmosphere and give us the support that we need, and you need that, without a doubt you need that.

“As I said before, I’ve watched the German games and it’s a high standard of football but without the fans it’s not a game.

“When they will come back, I really don’t know, hopefully it’s soon. The idea of closed doors is not a great idea but if that’s what’s got to happen then you have to do it.”

Looking back at last season, Lambert was asked where a campaign which looked so good - the Blues were top in the opening months and again in January -

“It was bizarre because at the end of January I think we went to Wycombe [sic] and we were sitting top of the table and we were never outside the top six, we were always between one, two, three, four or whatever it was.

“But in the last two months, February and March, we came right off it. I’ve analysed it, there will be things I’ll do differently without a doubt. You’ve got to look at yourself as well, where you went wrong and hopefully put them right.

“But for so many months we were in really good form, we were top of the league in January. We lost a lot of players through injury at certain times, big players as well.

“The last couple of months, February and March, we came right off it and couldn’t get it back.

“We were hoping that in the last eight games, five at home, [we could push on]. I think we had to win about six of those games to get into the play-offs, which we’re more than capable of doing. Everybody would have been back fit, but we had to go on a run. February and March definitely cost us.”

Asked what he’d change, and specifically his controversial rotation policy, he responded: “There are one or two things that I would do differently. The rotation thing, that was working at the beginning when we were winning and nobody was really bothered, it’s only when you start to lose people start to have a go at it.

“I get all the arguments about it, it’s one side I would look at. We were forced to change [the team] because of the number of games they were going to have. We blooded some young ones which I think was important for the football club going forward, the young ones in the Trophy, I think it was important for them to gain experience.

“And this pandemic has put those kids where they might make a mark on the first team because the finances won’t be the same as they were. So there are loads of positives out of it, but there are definitely certain things I would look at.”

Quizzed on whether he has considered his future and whether he is the man to take Town forward, he said: “Absolutely, I’ve been in the game long enough to know the pitfalls of everything that goes on. But we’re going to give it a right good go and try and correct everything that was wrong last season and try and put it right.

“We go again, we try and get everybody upbeat, we try and get everybody going again and hopefully the lads come back ready to go again and we’ll try and get out of the division. That’s what we have to do.

“We were top of the league at the end of January but February and March was when we came right off it and never performed.”

Does he accept the season was a failure? “When you don’t win any trophy it’s a failure, or any title it’s a failure. In my career I’ve had so many highs, winning a lot of stuff at the highest level of the game. And when you don’t win it hurt like hell, and it’s something that doesn’t sit right with me and we’ll try and put it right.”

The calamitous way the season fell away has soured Lambert’s relationship with fans, which he spent a lot of time working on in his early days at the club. How can rebuild that bridge?

“The fans are so important to the football club,” the 50-year-old added. “Whether I’m here or wasn’t here, they’re so important to the club. All we gave everybody was enthusiasm when the club was ailing.

“As I said before, I watched a game before I came in, I always go back to it, the game against Middlesbrough, nobody booed and I think they were tired, there was nobody turning up. Now you’re getting over 20,000 people, which is great.

“But I’ve played in front of big crowds and I know what it’s like, I know the criticism comes with the game, but I tell you, you meet it head on, you go through it again and you get the crowd back again.

“And you only do that by winning and trying to play exciting football, and that’s what we’ll try and do. It’s not something that’s going to put me on the back foot, you meet it head on and you go again.”

Lambert says he has spoken to owner Marcus Evans and they will speak again next week: “We spoke yesterday and we have done over the last few months and we’ll have another meeting again.

“He’s obviously disappointed with the season being curtailed and disappointed with the finish, but he knows himself that for long parts of the season we were right up there and should be better than we were.

“But that’s the reality of it, we didn’t perform in February and March and when you don’t perform, results go against you.

“He’s disappointed, but he’s a realist as well, he’s got a realist’s instinct in his head to think ‘Where does it go wrong?’ and next week we’ll talk about everything that we think is relevant and going to help us going forward.”

Inevitably fans have expressed their concern that the club’s prized assets, the likes of Flynn Downes and Luke Woolfenden, might be targeted by sides from higher divisions hoping to get the for a relative song given the financial situation across the game and particularly in the lower leagues.

“That can happen anyway at the best of times,” Lambert said. “If big clubs come in for players and the money’s right, clubs can’t stop it.

“The money would have to be right but you’ve got to realise the position the club’s in and where this pandemic is.

“When big clubs come in with X amount of money, sometimes it’s very difficult to stop it and that’s why you’ve got to have a conveyer belt of younger ones coming through and then you blood them and then they go again.

“There’s so much to discuss on where this pandemic has hurt football clubs, not just ours but I think everybody.”

Those youngsters who were blooded this season are likely to get more opportunities in the campaign ahead, whenever it starts.

“We can only go by what we see in training with the kids and the games that they play,” he said.

“And I’ve always said that if you’re good enough you’re old enough to come in, that’s always the case with me, that’s always the way I look at it. I needed a manager to do that for me and I do that myself with the kids.

“It’s going to be entirely on their heads to try and get in the team, that’s the game of football, you know you have to perform to force a manager’s hand to get in the side, and if you’re good enough it doesn’t matter to me what age you are. And that goes right across the board, you’ve got to perform to get in the team.”

He says he and Evans will discuss the squad and where it might need strengthening and which players might move on at their next meeting.

“Myself and Marcus will have a chat next week to see where we are with everything like that,” he said.

“But there’s got to be this realism now about what’s happened with the pandemic and how it is going to affect football clubs. I think that’s important.

“You’ve got to remember as well that fans won’t be allowed into the stadium, so really we have to take a lead from Marcus and see what says about the finances, and everybody has to respect that because of what’s happened.”

Yesterday general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill’s said “Our target was to try and make the play-offs this year” to the consternation of many fans, who believed the top two was the Blues’ goal, and Lambert believes first should always be the aim.

“When you’re in any sort of professional sport, it doesn’t matter how you dress it up, you’ve got to try and win to be successful,” he said.

“That’s always my mantra and when next season starts we’ll try and win the league, not to come second, we try and win it. Second is always failure in any professional sport, you want to try and win.

“And again, the most important people at the football club are the supporters and the players.”

Given fans’ current disenchantment at another disappointing season, what is Lambert’s message to them?

“Come again, come in your thousands again,” he said. “The fans have been absolutely brilliant since I’ve been here, they really have.

“Sometimes they criticise, which is totally part of the game and it’s not something I think is new. As long as they keep supporting the team and come back, and I’m pretty sure they will because the stadium in the good times was absolutely rocking, and we have to give them that back again.

“We have to get performances up to where they were again and we have to get everyone really bang at it through this period. We certainly need them, without a doubt, we need the supporters to come in their thousands and do exactly what they did when we stopped.

“That’s the nature of the game, you take the good and the bad but the good times will come again, that’s for sure."

Photo: TWTD

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chrisswailes added 11:30 - Jun 10
1 or 2? C'mon Paul. Do the decent thing and move on.

Dolphinblue added 11:33 - Jun 10
Still the right man for the job.....full support. Coyb!

WhoisJimmyJuan added 11:44 - Jun 10
Yeah yeah yeah. But why did the players lose confidence and motivation Mr Lambert? Why does that always happen? What's wrong at the club? Some of yhis falls on your head and some 9f it on Evans' head, who's on value to the club is as life support. We need the club off life support and out of intensive care. The people who's fault it is not, is the fans. We deserve so much more.

For me we died after the play off defeat in 2005. And I don't by the way think Jim Magilton was the answer by the way, great servant as he was. We need Nash, with Hogg brought back, and someone like Mowbray supporting them. Or Klug supporting if Dyer can take over the academy.

Len_Brennan added 11:57 - Jun 10
He's laying it out there as if it was just poor form in February & March that cost us, but in reality we weren't playing well for some time before Christmas, but were managing to get some results. The signs were there & enough fans were aware of it & pointing it out.
I'll go back to the game at MK Dons, great turnout by the fans, who were almost as numerous as the home supporters & certainly louder, got a decent start, scored in the first half & then got battered in the second half, by a poor team who were heading towards the relegation places, who just couldn't get the goal/s they deserved. That was when it really struck me; but PL would only rate that by the win (a fair thing to do if our form was generally good), while our play & capitulation in the second half of games was already a worry. Luckily for us, the other contenders hadn't gotten their act together by then. But the sorted things out & improved, while we still didnt know what our best team & formation was in March.

runningout added 12:07 - Jun 10
When we were top I was watching a very vulnerable team. Cracks showed in the end and those cracks are still at club. We need players that can read a game. Not fakes

TimmyH added 12:13 - Jun 10
We've been looking at 'yourself' Paul and been thinking you're not up to it!...the litmus test was this season and you failed not next should be out of a job.

RobITFC added 12:22 - Jun 10
Yes he has made mistakes, but would give him more time next season (whenever that maybe) to redeem himself, it is not the time to change (we have had too much in recent years) and get behind him and the Club when it starts again. It is too easy to say sack him , but who realistically would we get to replace him , on a virtually "zero" budget.

Chrisd added 12:27 - Jun 10
25 points from the last 25 games is a side in a fight to avoid relegation. Lots of people need to be having a long hard look at themselves at the club, it's been going downhill for the last 10+ years generally, if not longer. Things need to change, but those in key position need to want to be part of that change and that's the real issue for me.

MickMillsTash added 12:30 - Jun 10
No mention of how he has played for a massive club.
is he ill ?

hampstead_blue added 12:31 - Jun 10
Utter codswallop.
The club lacks leadership from the Captain through Manager and owner.

We need rid of the captain and manager to start with. They add nowt. Just hot air and rhetoric.

Pilgrimblue added 12:36 - Jun 10
He just needs to lok in the mirror and there's his answer. But will he learn from his mistakes, I'm not convinced.

d77sgw added 12:54 - Jun 10
We were pretty poor from November onwards truth be told. We finished roughly where we deserved to - the 'false' position is where we were in January. For once you cannot blame Evans for this - with the resources at his disposal Lambert should have got us promoted comfortably. We may as well give him another chance next season though - Covid 19 means that now is not the time to bring someone new in a) they would not get a proper pre-season with the players and b) the financial situation is so uncertain its not clear which players will even be at the club.

delias_cheesy_flaps added 12:55 - Jun 10
All League 67 9 11 13 40 40. 9. 9. 16 31. 48
League & Cups 78 11 12 14 48 44. 10 11. 20. 36. 57

26.9% Wins - 29.5% Draws - 43.6% Lost

The atrocious stats demonstrate why Lambert the clown should be sacked or walk!!

ChrisFelix added 12:59 - Jun 10
Still making mistakes. Giving the most inspirational midfield general ever to wear the blue shirt a new contact is one.

Ipswichbusiness added 13:30 - Jun 10
Those calling for PL to go should remember two things:
1) it will almost certainly cost a lot of money to pay off him and his staff,
2) we have a consistent record of failure under several managers. Why should a new one do any better than the last few?

Alan_Handsome added 14:12 - Jun 10
No Paul, not the collective "you"....YOU have got to lookat YOURself. This isn't on us you charlatan.

dominiciawful added 14:21 - Jun 10
Please, God, just go.

Just go.

TractorRoyNo1 added 14:32 - Jun 10
How many times have we heard this same record over the past 10 years "sorry about that, will sort it and be back better" - sick of it, absolutely sick of it.

TractorRoyNo1 added 14:36 - Jun 10
RobITFC - Dyer and Burley would do it FREE for 12 months if asked.

ThaiBlue added 14:51 - Jun 10
Come on lambert your a nice guy but a crap football manager,just go please you had your chance and ballsed it up,11th with respect is not anywhere good enough no exuse.

tractorboybig added 15:14 - Jun 10
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz turn the record over zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

ChrisR added 15:23 - Jun 10
PL has won ; 2 games of last 25 in the Premier League
4 games of last 21 in the Championship
2 games of last 20 in League One .
Will never get another Management Job ( like most of MEs appointed managers) so no wonder he is hanging on for a final pay off. No one is convinced by his PR Bull*** . Was originally hired just to stay up in the Championship , but ended up below Bolton , a club in freefall. Five more years of this will see the club extinct !

busterjames1 added 16:08 - Jun 10
Put Nigel clough in charge and put someone like Burley or Mills as an advisor.

Cloddyseedbed added 16:08 - Jun 10
Poor squad balance of team. Weaknesses not addressed in midfield, at the back and upfront. Too many of the squad players too similar. No motivation for players to get into the team, to stay in the team and to make sure the team win at all costs. Too many players just getting an easy life and going through the motions. Squad rotation, what a joke that was, that had the adverse effect on players and supporters, another season doing that and Lambert will be hounded out by supporters. Too many youngsters will not win you promotion. Yes it is nice to say they are one of our own but they must be good enough and show enough, only one or 2 do and I watch them a lot. Most are simply not good enough. We need a solid core of good pro's throughout the team that are good enough to play week in week out and build a momentum and not get injured or get too tired, bless them. They need to want it or get rid! Far too many players on the books that are getting a far too easy ride for what they are taking out of the club. Lambert, so far you have talked your way into a job, but your management skills of managing a squad of professional players has fallen far short of what is necessary to get us out of this division. You need to learn from your mistakes since you have been here, if you don't expect to be gone by end of next season, if not sooner.

dirtydingusmagee added 16:24 - Jun 10
he repeats himself over and over again in interviews , he should take a quote from Allo Allo, listen very carefully i will say this only once . Sadly i think he will repeat his performance in the new season too, and the failure will be put down to Covid , we couldnt do this ,we couldnt do that, yer and come back in your thousands again fans, we need you ,ive given up any thread of hope that Town will rise up again .

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