Lambert: You Need the Crowd
Friday, 4th Sep 2020 15:03
Town manager Paul Lambert says football isn’t the same without crowds ahead of the Blues’ first competitive match behind closed doors at home to Bristol Rovers in the Carabao Cup on Saturday.
Fans could be back towards the end of the month, however, even then in very limited numbers.
Lambert admits that there might be less pressure on his players in an empty stadium but feels no one welcomes playing in empty stadia.
“It could be,” he reflected. “But I think if you’re a real football person, a real football player, you want to play in front of a crowd.
“You need the crowd, it creates atmosphere, it creates the excitement, it generates great times, high moments, it generates everything. You need the supporters back, but only when it’s safe.
“When you play here you feel that level but the important thing is that you can handle it, that’s the big, big important thing when you play for a club this size, that you can handle it.
“You have to remain calm and composed with everything you’re doing, if you do that and the lads perform [then you’ve a chance of being successful].
“It’ll be interesting to see what it’s like without a crowd when it’s a real game. I think that’s something that’s going to be new to me and I’m going to have to look at it as well and see what it’s actually like. But for the players it will be strange.”
Lambert admits he didn’t think he would miss football as much as he did during the enforced hiatus.
The Blues, who host Bristol Rovers in the first round of the Carabao Cup on Saturday, were last in competitive action when they were beaten 1-0 by eventual League One champions Coventry City at Portman Road on March 7th.
“I’d never thought I’d miss football as much,” Lambert said. “I’ve been out of jobs before and I really enjoyed my time when I wasn’t in it because it gave me time to do things I wanted to do. But when you’re in it and you don’t have the football for five months, it’s tough, it was really, really tough.
“You appreciate it a lot more when that sort of thing happens, I think everybody was saying the same.
“I can’t wait for it to get started, absolutely love the job and I’m looking forward to getting going again.”
He added: “The first few weeks of lockdown was OK, you got used to it but as the months rolled on it became not a nice thing because nobody knew what was happening with the league, nobody knew where it was going, nobody knew if it was going to start again.
“I was involved with Zoom meetings left, right and centre, it was actually doing my head in because I was on them all the time.
“It got frustrating not knowing if we were going to come back or when it was going to come back.
“This situation is still not normal, talking to you guys [the media] through this [Zoom] or the crowd not coming back, not getting pre-match meals, you can’t shower. This ain’t normal, but to an extent the best possible time you get is on the football field, everything else is still a bit strange.”
Reflecting further on some of the other abnormal aspects of footballing life at present, Lambert continued: “The first few weeks of training was non-contact, that was a first for everybody, so we had to split into groups and not have contact and things like that.
‘We have to get changed in the dome at the back of the training ground or we come in in our kit and we leave the building as soon as we can because you can’t really hang around it.
“You can’t have lunch, you can’t have breakfast, all those sort of things were the rules, so we had to abide by the rules and we still have to.
“We’re going to the stadium tomorrow will be strange as well. We change in an area where normally it’s quite busy [the Sir Bobby Robson Suite in the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand], but it won’t be. It’s still getting used to that side of it.
“I think going to get changed over in the dome has been quite refreshing really, rather than stuck in a building in the dressing room and the same old, same old. That’s been a bit refreshing, I think.
“But there will come a time where that will start to be the same old, same old plus it’s really cold up there! When you come in in the morning it’s really, really cold.
“We don’t know when we move back into the building either. We’re not sure when that’s going to happen.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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