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Lambert: Really Encouraging, We're Still in the Mix
Saturday, 20th Feb 2021 18:41

Blues boss Paul Lambert insisted Town are still “in the mix” after their 0-0 home draw with Oxford United, having been encouraged by the display.

Town are now 12th, six points off the play-offs and 14 behind Tuesday’s opponents Hull City in second.

Despite the game ending in the same result, the Blues were much better than they were against Northampton on Tuesday.

“I thought so, I thought it was really encouraging,” Lambert said. “The team fight, I said that yesterday, the team fight and still we’re in the mix if they keep that level, there are a lot of games to go. But a lot of encouragement in there and the fight was there for everybody to see.”

Lambert felt his side had chances to win it in both halves: “Even in the first half, Keanan [Bennetts] when he cuts in I think it’s a really good chance and Troy [Parrott]’s one I think he’s just dragged it. His touch was really good in the box and he’s just dragged his shot.

“In the second half we started really well, there was Keanan’s shot and then we had Nors [James Norwood] and Troy. A lot of good moments, but we’ve just got to try and finish that good work.”

Asked whether there was a conscious attempt to hit Norwood with early balls, Lambert joked: “You guys are wanting the long ball back! Just hoof it and boot it, that’s what you call it, may as well use your analogy for it.

“No, listen, we played good, I’m really happy, really encouraged how they performed.”

Lambert made seven changes, adding experienced players such as skipper Luke Chambers and centre-halves Toto Nsiala and James Norwood to his line-up.

“I took your advice yesterday, I’m surprised you never tweeted it!’ he laughed with reporters.

“James and Toto haven’t trained, because of the number of games that called off with the U23s we couldn’t get them any game time, so you’re always a bit wary when you throw them into something where they can hurt themselves and you lose them for another three or four weeks.

“I spoke to the lads yesterday and I asked them how they felt and the two of them were really, really strong.”

Wilson, arguably Town’s man of the match, last featured at Lincoln City back on October 24th.

“His knee injury was a really strange one as well, it was just a challenge in training and he found out his knee was giving him a problem,” he said.

“Really pleased with the other guys, the back four was really strong. If we can keep that all the way through, then we’ll be in the mix.”

A tall order for the two of them to play again at Hull on Tuesday? “Maybe these guys, maybe we just go ‘OK, we play, we’ll play right through it’. It’ll take a big effort but the way they played, I think they’ll be champing at the bit to go again.”

Regarding Bennetts’s lively display, he added: “Really good. He’s got a great thing that nobody wants to play against - speed. If you have speed and you’ve got a little trick in your locker [no one wants to play against you].

“That’s his first game since Burton here on December 15th, even he hasn’t played much [in the U23s] because of the weather.

“He can make things happen, he’s an explosive player. It’s difficult to single anybody out because I thought they all put a helluva shift in.”

Asked about Josh Harrop’s important injury time block, he said: “Yes, but when you’re not taking your chances, things like that happen. But, as I said before, if that’s not a team fighting for me, then you’ll never see one. They give you everything and that’s all you can ask for.”

The Town boss sees the draw with the division’s form side as something to build on: “I said that to you yesterday, it only takes one result to kick on and hopefully that’s the case.

“Oxford are a good side, Karl [Robinson]’s got a good team, but with the performance level I don’t think anybody could begrudge us. If we’d won, I think everybody would have said ‘OK, that’s what you deserved’.”

James Norwood was a danger throughout for Town and Lambert admits it’s been frustrating having the former Tranmere man in and out of the side due to injury, out more often than in.

“It’s been frustrating because he’s injured, then he comes back, then he’s injured,” he reflected. “If we can keep him fit and he plays like that consistently, then he’s a handful.

“It’s keeping him fit and the way he is on that side of it. There have been times when he’s not performed and there are times when he plays like that and he’s a handful. He and Troy, with Troy just in behind him, they linked up really well.”

Regarding limiting Norwood’s minutes in recent games, he added: “It was what he could give us. Hopefully he recovers so he can play game after game after game.”

Asked about his planned meeting with owner Marcus Evans, which he revealed at his press conference yesterday, and which was erroneously reported to have happened yesterday rather than in the week to come, Lambert said: “What the massive, massive, massive crisis meeting I’m having?

“That big meeting I’m meant to have? I don’t know, maybe it’s coming, maybe it doesn’t happen. I need to speak to him.”

Asked whether there was a meeting, he responded: “Who was I meeting with?”

When Evans, whom we understand he spoke yesterday, although is yet to hold the face-to-face meeting he previously mentioned, was the response, he referenced the latter stages of yesterday’s press conference when he was clearly unhappy that journalists had spoken to people around the club.

“Did you call someone from the club, somebody tell you?” he said, before adding: “For God’s sake, no.”

Asked whether, after an eventful week, he was coming out fighting, he said: “I’m a fighter, if you want to take me on, I’ll fight you. Same with my team, they’ll fight. I’ve never had anything thrown at me easily, I’m a fighter and if you want to go fight, then we’ll go and fight. The same with the team, they fight and that’s a great thing.”

In his post-match press conference and in national radio interviews Lambert referred to wider and deeper problems at the club which go back beyond his time as manager, with the structure in place at Portman Road.

Quizzed on how a manager overcomes that, he said: “You just have a chat with the owner and see what’s going to happen. He’s a good guy, no problem that way.

“Me and Marcus talk, it’s not unusual that I talk to Marcus, his business is way, way above mine.

“We get on well, I don’t have a problem with him, he doesn’t have a problem with me on that side.

“These meetings that people fabricate are bang out of order. There’s nothing there. I’ll speak to the guy like I normally do whenever he’s available. I don’t know where he is, but I get on well with him.”

Asked further about his previous comments on the structure, he added: “That will remain private. I’ve been at huge football clubs, massive European, top level football clubs. I know how a structure works, but that’s between me and Marcus.”

Oxford boss Robinson felt a draw was a fair result with little in the game.

"It was one of those afternoons when I don’t think either team did enough to win," he told the Oxford Mail.

"We can’t say that we’ve played well and you’d argue there was nothing in the game, other than Alex [Gorrin]’s mistake.

"If you take that away, it was two teams who cancelled each other out.

"We’ve come a long way if we’ve come to Portman Road and we’re disappointed with a point.”

"We know we can play better, we have to play better. At half-time the players were frustrated with each other, which is great for me.”

Regarding his side's best chance headed over by Matty Taylor, he said: “I don’t think we got close enough to Matty. It’s come at him so quick and it’s a bit high. If it’s a foot lower, it’s a tap-in."

Photo: TWTD

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bluelodgeblue added 18:45 - Feb 20
Surely the headline is a joke?

sospier added 18:46 - Feb 20
Are you still here.🙈

davetheblue added 18:47 - Feb 20
We won’t be in mix by the time we have played Hull and Doncaster
Time to move on and concentrate on next season

FrankMarshall added 18:47 - Feb 20
Vastly improved performance which wouldn't be difficult given how dreadful we were in the last match against Northampton. Wilson outstanding in defence and we looked more balanced as a team. Not a great result (two 0-0 draws at home is hardly great) but good to see an improved performance.

bluearmy4life added 18:47 - Feb 20

jas0999 added 18:48 - Feb 20
We didn’t win. Again. We didn’t score. Again. Our record under Lambert is atrocious. Why is Lambert still here? Drawing at home to Oxford isn’t something to celebrate.

Hamish1979 added 18:50 - Feb 20
You were so close to not mentioning the huge clubs you've been at. Last paragraph... So close...

ArnieM added 18:51 - Feb 20
“ still in the mix “..,,, yes of course we are Lambo....,, my arse 🙄

muhrensleftfoot added 18:51 - Feb 20
Odd that he should mention huge football clubs he's been at. Not like him at all. What a complete xxxxxx

itfctilidie added 18:53 - Feb 20
you lost me at "Paul Lambert insisted". Boring cretin

northernblues added 18:55 - Feb 20
Totally deluded! We got a point at home to oxford! Youd think we drew with spurs! What would be encouraging is if you and Evan's left!

abandon_hope1978 added 18:58 - Feb 20
So, after gaining a point at home against a team above us, you decide to face the cameras today instead of pushing your assistants or players out to face the public after the usual humiliating performances. What a set of balls you have. Bet you would’ve hid if we had got stuffed as we expected. As for “still being in the promotion mix”, are you delusional? That’s over long ago.

BlueBlood90 added 18:58 - Feb 20
These comments make me nervous that he’s not getting the boot any time soon. I’m praying I’m wrong!

Tufty added 18:59 - Feb 20

itfchorry added 19:00 - Feb 20
Word on the street is that he has had a package
sorted out and will be gone in 2 weeks or less.


tractorboybig added 19:01 - Feb 20

Saxonblue74 added 19:02 - Feb 20
Yes, we could have won the game....but could easily have lost it too! A better performance doesn't make it a good performance. Just feel he's lost lost any scrap of credibility he had left now, no going back for me.

BcarefulwhatUWish4 added 19:11 - Feb 20
Better performance but we really struggle to put the ball in the net, don't we? Was looking at the league table- Burton, Swindon, Rochdale have all scored more goals than us.

Big game coming up at Hull. I'd take a 0-0 there at this point (not something I want to say but 0-0 would be a great result).

Suffolkboy added 19:12 - Feb 20
What comes next ? Long time to the official pantomime season ; will PL be leaving the ball ?

afcfee added 19:13 - Feb 20
Just pay him off he is costing more than the contract

midastouch added 19:15 - Feb 20
We're so far out of the mix we haven't even made it on to the shopping list. We've got all the wrong ingredients with Chef Lambert making a big awful meal of things! It's like Hell's Kitchen but without a Ramsey (Sir Alf would be far preferable to Gordon) to save us!

midastouch added 19:17 - Feb 20
He's not very good at mix and match. It doesn't how he mixes it, as we hardly ever end up with 3 points by the end of the match!

midastouch added 19:18 - Feb 20
* matter

moggasnotebook added 19:19 - Feb 20
itfchorry - word on the street? Please do explain what you mean by that. I assume there is no actual facts behind that idle comment? Or are you good friends with Marcus or bumped in to him on your world wide travels and shared a few casual beers with our owner Marcus?

As much as we have some lovely and wonderful staff behind the scenes at the 2 x PR sites I am certain none of them would be in the loop on any pre arranged severance package for our manager.

Tell your ‘street source’ TO DO ONE rather then their rubbish end up on this site.

TimmyH added 19:24 - Feb 20
Asked further about his previous comments on the structure, he added: “That will remain private. I’ve been at huge football clubs, massive European, top level football clubs. I know how a structure works, but that’s between me and Marcus.” - he really is full of spin is our Lamberk, so all those clubs he managed and failed, Villa, Wolves, Stoke etc. weren't well structured?...sadly I've got a feeling this is what the meeting will be about in mid-week not his sacking.

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