Lambert: I'm Sure the Fans Will Get Right Behind Us
Friday, 11th Dec 2020 12:02
Portman Road welcomes fans back for the first time in nine months on Saturday for Portsmouth's visit with 2,000 season ticket holders set to watch the game, and manager Paul Lambert says they’ve been missed.
The last time supporters were at Portman Road was on March 7th for the 1-0 defeat by eventual champions Coventry City.
Having played in front of 1,808 Plymouth fans at Home Park last weekend, the Blues will be watched by their own supporters this Saturday, 2,000 season ticket holders having been drawn from the overall total of a little under 9,000.
“The one positive thing the club has got is its fanbase behind it,” Lambert said when asked about their return.
“You’re hoping them coming is going to drive us on again because I saw it at Plymouth, their support was really good.
“They get right behind them, drove them on and even when they went down to 10 men you could still feel the little bit of an atmosphere that was in the stadium.
“But for me the fans coming back is a great thing, albeit it’s going to be 2,000 people there. They’ll certainly help us and that’s what we need, we need the support behind us, and I think it’s a great thing for the fans to get behind us.”
What sort of atmosphere is he anticipating? “I think it’ll be really good. I think everybody is desperate to come back to football. I saw it with Plymouth last week.
“Obviously, you [the media] were at Plymouth as well and you saw the impact it gave them.
“I stood outside when the Plymouth lads came out in the warm-up and the reception they got was great, really, really good.
“You would have thought there was more than 2,000 in the stadium. Even when we were winning, they still drove them on and drove them on, and I think our fans will do the same.
“One massive positive is as a crowd the fanbase the football club has got. Albeit, as I said, 2,000, but it is a start and I’m sure they’ll get right behind the guys.”
Will fans being present change the dynamic of games, perhaps leading to greater urgency on occasion? “That could happen with some individuals. Some individuals might think ‘Oh the crowd is on us again,’ or ‘The crowd are willing us on,’ and might try something.
“The crowd can affect any footballer, it’s an individual’s mindset and how they handle a crowd and how they want to take the ball, how they feel when it’s really tight, and you’ve got people around about you.
“Some guys might just think we’ll kick it on and some might think it’s no problem for me I can comfortable bring it down and manoeuvre it.
“So it’ll affect individuals differently but as a team you’re hoping that everyone gets together with it and hold it together and stick to what you believe in.
“I think that’s important. We don’t have the players to play long ball or anything like that, so we have to try and play the way we want to.
“But the crowd certainly give you that drive to go forward, to go and press, to go and do the other side of the game because it has been tough.”
Lambert feels that the games behind closed doors haven’t felt like proper football.
“As I said before, in my lifetime I’ve never experienced this, nobody has experienced this, playing professional football when there’s nobody there, and [players have got to be] self-motivated because you don’t have that nervy feeling.
“And I think you’ve always got to have a little bit of nerves coming into a game and a little bit of trepidation of what can happen and what might happen and what will happen.
“I think you’ve always got to have that and without it, it’s definitely not the same game, you need that [to be generated] fans without a doubt.”
Fans have been critical of Lambert in recent weeks with many calling for a change of boss. However, if he hears a bit of abuse coming his way or that of the players from the stands, will that feel like an aspect of normality returning?
“Well, that comes from you, so I’m alright with that,” he joked. “I’ve managed massive clubs, I’ve played with big clubs and that’s been my life since I was 15 years old, that’s been my life.
“It doesn’t affect me and it really doesn’t. I don’t think the fans will do that all, I’ve had so many unbelievable well-wishers, an unbelievable number that have written to me and been great, really good.
“The ITFC supporters group [sic] and all that, they’ve been absolutely brilliant and I don’t have a problem.
“I just don’t want it to affect the players, that’s the important thing is the players. And I’m sure the Ipswich fans will come tomorrow and get right behind us.”
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