|Ipswich Town 0 v 2 Portsmouth|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 12th December 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Lambert: You Can't Just Play Football With the Ball, You Have to Do the Other Side First
Saturday, 12th Dec 2020 18:44
Town boss Paul Lambert admitted his side never played well during their 2-0 home defeat to Portsmouth, Ryan Williams having netted both the visitors’ goals in the first half.
“We never deserved it, we never played well,“ Lambert said. “Maybe after 15 minutes or so when Dobs, who I thought had a good game, does well and made the goalkeeper make a save but other than that we never did the other side [of the game].
“You can’t play a game of football without doing the other side first. Once you do the other side first, everything else follows suit and if you don’t do that, ultimately you lose.”
How do the players change that, is it a case of improving aspects of the game like competing and winning more 50/50s?
“The guys know that, we spoke about it,” he said. “That was a good thing, you can’t just play football with the ball, you have to do the other side first.
“And if you do the other side first you tend to find things will fall into place. Today we never did the other side.”
Lambert didn’t emerge for his post-match press conference until 5.30pm, much later than usual. Asked if there had been harsh words in the dressing room, he said: “To an extent, to an extent. Listen, we need players back as well, that’s important. Yes, there were harsh words and also some common sense words but we never deserved to win.”
Given the quality of the opposition, Town couldn’t afford to put in a display as lacklustre as today’s.
“Any game, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing against,” Lambert said when that was put to him. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against, you have to earn the right to win any game of football.
“If you think you can just turn up and things are going to happen, without doing the other side of the game, and I mean being aggressive, intense, so hyped up in your own self, taking responsibility in your own self, you ain’t going to win many games.”
Town once again fell well short against a side towards the top of the table and are still to defeat anyone in the top nine in the division.
“We have to beat the top teams,” the Blues boss admitted. “We have to get our big players back. We’re going to need a magic wand to get those guys back because it’s important.
“We need them back, Teddy Bishop, Flynn Downes, Cole Skuse, you need that engine room back. And at the minute it’s not coming back any time soon.”
Town’s record when playing against sides in the top 10 in the last two seasons - in last year's final table and as the division stands at present - makes chastening reading, with only three wins from 25 fixtures.
“We need to be better but we need the guys back, without a doubt,” Lambert continued. “You’ve seen Portsmouth, they’re a team of men. We’ve got young lads in there as well. They’re doing everything [they can] and that will do them good for the future but at the moment it’s hard for them, they need a bit of help from the guys coming back. If Bishop and Downes come back, it’s a different animal.”
Is he worried the season might trail off with the Blues down to sixth but with three of the four teams directly below them having played fewer games?
“Well, we can’t [let it],” he said. “As I said, there have been harsh words in the dressing room on that side of it. You cannot let it trail [off], without a doubt.
“We’re still in the mix, there are so many games left to play. If we get the bigger ones back to crack on but you cannot turn up thinking you’re going to win a game of football playing like that.”
Quizzed on whether the players had their say in the dressing room afterwards, he added: “Yes, they know. Everybody knows, everybody says things, everybody hears it, everybody knows what’s going on and sometimes you need that.
“You definitely need that. Before you wake up and the horse has bolted, you need to realise what you’re involved in.”
There were boos at the end of both halves from the 2,000 fans returning to Portman Road after nine months away.
“Everybody pays a lot of money and during what’s happened, the pandemic, you can’t grumble because we lost, we didn’t play well, you can’t grumble, you just have to get on with it and move on to the next game,” Lambert said when asked about the booing.
“It’s not nice for anybody but that’s football. Can you imagine if it was a full house. It’s a little bit different, or you’re playing in front of 60 or 70,000 people then it’s who’s got the biggest cajones, as I call it.”
Town have a chance to get back to winning ways very quickly with Burton Albion at Portman Road on Tuesday.
“That’s it but if we play like that, we’ll lose again, that’s the reality of it,” Lambert admitted. “Hopefully Tuesday everybody regroups, maybe we will get one or two back, I don’t know if they’re ready.”
Jon Nolan rejoined the injured list having picked up a knock in the first half but Lambert isn’t sure how serious the problem is.
“I don’t know if it’s his calf or hip or anything like that, I don’t know how bad it is,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Lambert had praise for Armando Dobra’s performance, the Albanian U21 international how having started the last three league games.
“He did well, I thought he did really well, energy, tenacity, all those sort of things. I thought he was one of the bright sparks,” he said.
Lambert’s double second-half substitution also drew boos with Kayden Jackson swapped for Aaron Drinan.
“Kayden, as I said to you before, we’ve got to really watch him, he’s missed a helluva lot of games and we can’t afford another injury,” he said. “We have to watch and protect him because we’re playing three games a week.
“Aaron hurt himself the other week so we’ve got to watch him. Oli Hawkins has not played many games and James Norwood is obviously out. There are that many games and nobody coming in to help at this moment.
“Young Tyreece Simpson is out injured at the moment, so out Aaron on. Dobs I thought was playing well anyway. I thought Aaron needed a bit of game time, Oli came on. It’s just what we think is the right thing to do.”
The booing fans wanted to see the Blues move to two up front, as they did during last week’s 2-1 win at Plymouth, but that isn’t the way Lambert wants his side to play.
“I don’t want to go to route one because you’ve got Oli up there and just launch it from back to front,” he said. “That was one of the arguments when I first came in - we play 4-4-2, we bang it up front, it’s boring, it’s not good football.
“We try to play a different way and that’s the philosophy we try and play. When you change your shape to 4-4-2 it can become really, really ragged. That’s why Aaron came on and as I say, Kayden I’ve got to watch.”
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