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Lambert: We Went Toe-to-Toe With a Really Strong Team
Wednesday, 16th Sep 2020 22:39

Town boss Paul Lambert felt his players went toe-to-toe with a strong Fulham side in this evening’s Carabao Cup second-round tie and that it took a world class goal to see the Premier League side to their 1-0 victory. The Blues manager also commented on Crystal Palace target Flynn Downes's return to action and Birmingham's reported interest in Kayden Jackson.

“I couldn’t ask any more,” Lambert said of his players’ performance. “I thought we were really good. We saw Fulham’s teamsheet when we were coming in and saw they’d put a strong team out. They have so many great players there, they’re a really good team.

“They were a strong team but we went toe-to-toe with them and I thought we were excellent. We had some good play, some guys playing for the first time, which was really good and every one of them didn’t disgrace themselves, I thought there were some really good performances.”

He added: “I think you always want to test yourself against great players or great opposition, I think that’s important. I’m really proud of them, how we played, really, really proud.

“You look at the team Fulham had out, a load of stars there, but again we went toe-to-toe and there wasn’t too much in it.”

Reflecting on Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 38th-minute winner, he said: “The goal that they scored, that was world class, the switch from the lad [Maxi Le Marchand] from here was incredible and then the cross and then the goal.

“So it took a world-class goal to beat us because we were all locked in, we were all set up really good but sometimes you’ve got to hold your hand up and say the goal was top class.”

Lambert was pleased with the likes of Armando Dobra, Janoi Donacien and Oli Hawkins, who were all making their first appearance of the season.

“I just said to them that they’re playing with a lot of confidence, the guys, and we’ll try and keep that,” he said. “It’s really early doors, but the way we’ve started and the way we’re playing, I’m really pleased.”

The Blues boss was also delighted with centre-half pairing Toto Nsiala and James Wilson: “The two of them have been excellent, really good. Nsiala has been a different player this year, good on the ball, strong, not getting outmuscled. He was up against a really tough guy in Mitrovic.

“And Wilson I think got his chance with Luke Woolfenden being out and took it. I think that’s all you can ask. When you get your chance, take it. And the two of them as a partnership look really, really strong.”

The Scot says he gave Nsiala the captain’s armband as a reward for his excellent form in pre-season and in the campaign proper’s first few games.

“I just made the choice because the way he’s performed he deserves the recognition,” he said. “I think he’s played really, really well in the games since he’s come back. In training, that’s important as well, he’s trained really well, so I didn’t have a problem giving it to him.”

Regarding full debutant Hawkins, he added: “Excellent, really good, he’s an absolute handful, he is. He’s an absolute handful. He’s not fully fit yet, he’s behind but I’m absolutely over the moon with his performance because he gives you everything. He wins a lot of headers, a lot of flick-ons but he can also play with his feet. Really pleased with him.”

Asked whether it would have been good to have had a crowd behind his team in the closing minutes as they looked for an equaliser, Lambert said: “It would have been nice to have them full stop. Everybody needs fans because the game’s about supporters. We feed off it, for good and bad you feed off it and hopefully they’ll come back soon.”

Lambert admitted that Town rarely threatened to score, but he felt that was down to the quality of the opposition: “You’ve got to remember what you’re playing against. They’ve a striker [Mitrovic] worth more than this football club cost.

“They’ve got a goalkeeper from PSG. They’ve got a midfielder from Southampton [Mario Lemina]. It’s unbelievable, the PSG keeper who was [on loan at] at Real Madrid [last season]. You’ve got to put it into perspective what you’re up against. They’re a really, really good side.”

He says the game will have been a good experience for his players: “If you don’t learn from that you’ll never learn. It will be great for them.

“Emyr Huws got better as the game went on as well. Jon Nolan was excellent again, Andre Dozzell, the same. We have got a lot of guys with confidence who are playing really well. The experience will be really good for them.”

Lambert was also pleased to see Downes appear for the first time this season as a second-half sub: “We had a chat yesterday and, as I said before, just let the kid go and play and don’t mention anything else. Just let him go and play and hopefully he gives me a problem trying to get back in the team.

“He probably knows he’s got a fight on his hands with the guys in front but there are reasons for that. But just I think now’s the time just to put it to bed and let the kid go and play.”

Asked about reports that Birmingham had made a £2.5 million offer for Jackson, a £1 million target for AFC Bournemouth last week, Lambert said: “I don’t know, same scenario as what it was. Somebody has to want to buy him.

"It’s OK seeing speculation, somebody has to want to buy you and then we have to wait and see.”

Asked directly whether Birmingham have made a bid, whether there was firm interest from the Midlanders, he responded: “No, I don’t know.”

Meanwhile, Birmingham have signed another striker Scott Hogan from Aston Villa following a loan spell last season, which may indicate any interest in Jackson has cooled.

Photo: TWTD

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jayessess added 23:05 - Sep 16
Did we, though?

adeblueboy added 23:21 - Sep 16
He always says....I thought we were excellent......does he still think we all belive him, he has been saying this since the day he came here!!

Len_Brennan added 23:52 - Sep 16
I'm pleased that Downes played & I think it was significant that he came on in a game that has cup tied him for potential buyers. Hopefully that has put the transfer to bed for this window, or at worst demonstrated our resolve regarding the valuation & how we won't be bullied into accepting the pathetic offer.
Keep Downes for the session & play him, sell Jackson for £2m+ & try to replace him with Ben Woodburn on loan (far better suited to our formation & style this season). All of a sudden we'd be looking much stronger for a promotion push.

WhoisJimmyJuan added 23:54 - Sep 16
He is much, much too easily pleased.

Len_Brennan added 23:54 - Sep 16
*season, not session (it's late)

Carberry added 00:06 - Sep 17
1 shot on target, that isn't really really good is it PR Paul?

Bluearmy71 added 02:31 - Sep 17
But then Fulham had 18 shots in the end with only two being on target and one of those was the goal, you could say "that isn't really really good" couldn't you Carberry??

From what I saw of the game (about 3/4's of it) we had some good passages of play, our defending was a little shakey but solid at the same time hence only conceding the one goal, should we have had more shots defo but Fulham have good quality defenders and a very talented midfield that are all very comfortable on the ball, Fulham should have and indeed did control the match and we gave a good account of ourselves overall because they really were a tough opposition!

runningout added 02:36 - Sep 17
I think we are in our rights to have high expectations. This game was winnable with bells on

bobble added 04:39 - Sep 17
we lost to a club that is smaller and has less successful than ipswich town fc.

Dolphinblue added 06:23 - Sep 17
Fantastic performance boys Coyb....ignore #thenegcrew

JCBLUE added 06:44 - Sep 17
Agree Dolphinblue, very good performance against a Prem team & great to see us playing quick passing football. Certainly weren’t overawed, but we do need someone firing up front.

ChrisFelix added 07:21 - Sep 17
Im puzzled for a team to have so many 'excellent performances' that we lost the game.
Also one shot on target !!!!!

Terry_Nutkins added 07:25 - Sep 17
We made 7 changes which was the right thing to do and we lost 1-0 to a premier league side.who.put out a very strong team and there is mostly moaning. I'm sure itnis from the same people saying we were going to get thrashed with that defence etc and yet no we didnt. We competed and stayed in the game. We got some more game time.into the squad and we go to bristol in the league a bit more ready. Good.

ArnieM added 07:52 - Sep 17
People have to remember Lambert is trying to build up confidence and team spirit . Of course he’s going to talk the players / team up. I can’t see what’s wrong with that tbh . Town didn’t play badly last night against a very accomplished team. So to those that continually dissect Lambert’s every word and continually look to dampen down the spirit of the Team/ Manager/ Club with your relentless sniping , please just go away or at least try and be a bit more positive . It’s boring listening to same people make the same negative comments after EVERY game. Give it a rest!

Millsey added 08:05 - Sep 17
I watched the game last night and thought we made a game of it against a very good side. Well played lads👍👍👍👍

hammo56 added 08:19 - Sep 17
Usual claptrap from Lambert.
I’m sure if he had been our manager when we lost 9-0 to Man Utd he would have said in the circumstances we did well.

BlueandTruesince82 added 08:41 - Sep 17
Sounded more like they took the lead and went into training match mode but still.

itsonlyme added 09:01 - Sep 17
Leaderless Ruderless Hopeless. You would have thought our players would have wanted to put in a performance against a premier team but woeful passing and long ball tactics to a front three who weren’t up for it just pathetic. We looked what we are a poor Lihue 1 team. Bitterly disappointed all round.

Linkboy13 added 11:16 - Sep 17
Cornell excellent and after Holys nervous display against Wigan could get the nod on Saturday. Dobra showed still got a long way to go before he's ready for first team action, would like to see him go out on loan,he's not going to improve playing for the under 23s.

SickParrot added 11:45 - Sep 17
Whilst a 1 nil defeat to a premier league team is not a bad result, we could've done a lot better. With a home tie against a championship team awaiting the winners of last night's match, PL should have picked a stronger side. Fulham were never troubled and we didn't threaten their goal until injury time. Why do we always struggle against teams from lower divisions but teams from higher divisions always beat us without getting out of second gear?

NorthLondonBlue2 added 12:43 - Sep 17
It's a basic rule of management that you find ways to praise your team when they've failed and give constructive criticism when they succeed.

This is transparently Lambert's approach and it is the right one.

You have to give the lads confidence and any manager who publicly knocks his players when they're down will be out of a job very quickly.

Losing 1-0 to a Premier League side when you're in League 1 is really not that bad. We exit the Cup with our heads held high, having gained extra experience, fitness and we will demolish Bristol Rovers on Saturday!


TimmyH added 16:40 - Sep 17
NorthLondonBlue - maybe that's why we don't get anywhere, maybe he doesn't even give them bollokings in the dressing room, seems like every managers approach we've had for the last decade or so.

BeattiesBackPocket added 17:12 - Sep 17
Terrynutkins you’re right we made 7 changes what you left out is they made 9 changes from their team at the weekend. Yeah we only lost 1-0 but we’re so devoid of any creativity in the final 3rd it’s worrying for me but some of you think it’s ok? 1 shot on target at home is not ok it shows we have an issue to me in the final third. Yes premier opposition but only just and have to prove themselves it’s not like we played a decent premier league team even their manager was saying they lack strength in depth, the commentator on Sky was saying that we never threatened and we didn’t against a team only 3 or 4 years ago we were competing with and wouldn’t be happy with only one shot on target. This to me is how much we are falling and how much our fans are happy that it’s ok. I want more from my club. Better recruitment, funds etc something Brentford do no matter what manger takes over and they go and win at Southampton with 8 changes themselves, Hull very nearly won at Leeds and people are ok with us losing against what wasn’t a strong Fulham side. Take Mitrovic, their keeper and Knockeart out the side and it’s a reserve team. We had some decent passages of play against Wigan but again everyone on their bench had not even had one appearance between them and that Wigan side lost some of their better players and manager. I hope to god it gets better league wise more than anything else but I don’t see many changes from last year at the moment as I say I hope I’m proved wrong at the end of the season

Carberry added 17:22 - Sep 17
Timmy and BBP you are absolutely right. PR Paul is coming out with this BS for our benefit, still trying to convince us and the owner what a good manager he is. We've always had a sense of realism, been treated with respect rather than morons who will just lap up what the hierarchy tell us. The reality is dreadful, our best players are on the verge of heading out of the door and we will be left with those that have taken us to League 1 - you know the place some people thought it would be a good idea to drop into so we could re-group. Just don't see where the optimism is coming from.

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