Big interview: Luke Chambers on League One standard, squad rotation and chasing records
Ipswich Town are top of the League One table following a nine-game unbeaten start. STUART WATSON spoke to captain Luke Chambers ahead of Saturday’s visit of Tranmere Rovers.
CHAMBERS ON NINE-GAME UNBEATEN START...
Things are going really well. You always have to say the right things, 'we're not getting carried away', but I think we're playing with a lot of confidence.
To keep five clean sheets in a row and be unbeaten in nine just breeds confidence.
He (Paul Lambert) is making four or five changes every game and everybody is coming in and stepping up. They're thriving off the opportunities.
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Maybe last year, when we were making changes, it wasn't quite working for us.
The big positive that we've spoken about in the dressing room, and I've said this to the lads, is that we've changed from that losing mentality to a winning mentality *clicks fingers* just like that.
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To almost cruise the first nine games is a massive credit to the gaffer, the staff, the players, the club, the fans - everyone. Even you are reporting positively now! Things are good.
CHAMBERS ON DITCHING THE LOSING HABIT...
I'm not going to lie, the first five/six games were nervy. The whole squad felt really prepared, but there was... not an edginess... but certainly a feeling that there was an extra something on those first few games.
The good thing is we've had games where we've drawn and no-one's got too carried away by that. The fans haven't over-reacted and gone 'oh, we're not very good', instead they've had a realistic outlook.
We've played against Doncaster and Peterborough sides that have been in League One for quite a while. Sunderland are obviously a solid team in this league too. All three of them will be looking for promotion.
And we've come out of all of those games undefeated having played as well as, if not better, than them.
We've got no given right, as the manager has said. We do have a target on our backs because we are a big club in this league.
We are a team who have been relegated from the Championship and we have to earn our right to be up there - so far we've done that.
We haven't had any set-backs yet. They will come and it's about how we handle them.
We came off with a draw against Doncaster, feeling like we'd been beat, so to respond with two wins was nice.
CHAMBERS ON OPPOSITION RAISING THEIR GAMES AGAINST TOWN...
You watch the analysis of the opposition on a Thursday/Friday, see things that go on in their games and think 'this shouldn't be too difficult'. Then you come out and it's a completely different kettle of fish.
How often do teams and players in this league get to play at somewhere like Portman Road in front of 20,000 people? How do they react? It's a massive opportunity.
If they play well then they could potentially end up at Ipswich Town because we'll try to sign the best players in the league, come January, if we need a little bit extra and push on.
It's their opportunity to have a big day out and try to take a big scalp. Because that's what we're seen as now.
We've look very comfortable and we've ticked off the big challenges as they've come.
CHAMBERS ON FANS' POSITIVITY...
We needed them massively over the summer. It would have been easy for just 12-13,000 to turn up and not really be bothered about playing in League One.
They just want to see winning football and that's what we're giving them. They want to be a part of that. Everyone is buying into the same idea.
Twenty thousand plus at home, two thousand at Gillingham, three thousand on a Tuesday night at MK Dons… It's unreal. They want to travel home and away and see us completely smash records for attendances in this division.
It doesn't feel like they are waiting with bated breath to jump on a bad pass. There are no murmurings.
They've been fantastic and deserve a season like this we've had so far.
You want to win for yourself, but you want to win for those fans as well.
CHAMBERS ON PAUL LAMBERT...
He has got to take massive credit because he's reconnected the club with the fans and he's made it an enjoyable team to play in again for the players.
But it doesn't just come from the manager, it comes from the dressing room - we wouldn't accept certain things.
As long as I'm captain of this football club the players will realise they always have to give 100%.
Last year we fell short because we just didn't have enough quality, not because we didn't have enough experience or because of a lack of effort of because there were prima donas not putting a shift in.
That's why the fans stayed with us. That can be the only reason. And we're repaying them at the minute.
They are continuing to enjoy the League One tour. Long may the wins continue and the positive vibes continue.
CHAMBERS ON TOMAS HOLY...
He's a humble man. You can see in his interviews those endearing qualities.
You can forgive mistakes in football if they don't happen every week. He hasn't made any yet. Even if he did make one, it would be 'don't worry Tom, you've been absolutely brilliant'.
Every single ball that comes in the box in the air he comes and claims. What that does for a defender is absolutely incredible.
We know that if the ball coming in isn't of the right quality then he is going to come and catch it. That means, as a defender, you don't have to get involved in things you really shouldn't be. That's a huge, huge bonus.
And those big goalkicks are a massive weapon two. They allow us to play in their half more often. They are the two things I've noticed really.
I spoke to one of the Gillingham players at the weekend and they told me he only had goalkeeper specialist training twice a week there.
The improvement I've seen from day when he arrived at the club to now is massive. Huge credit has to go to (goalkeeper coach) Jimmy Walker and to Will Norris for pushing him and keeping on his toes. Every day he is getting better.
For me, I don't think it will be too long before people are having a look at him.
CHAMBERS ON LUKE WOOLFENDEN...
Woolfy brings a special air of confidence - he's certainly got his own personality!
He's done very, very well and fans always like to see players coming through the academy.
The manager has shown that if you're good enough, you're old enough.
In my opinion, it was the wrong decision to send him on loan last season. But perhaps that's done him the world of good for this one. It got him away from the negative season that we had.
He did well there (at Swindon), has come back with a freshness and he knows that if he continues to do what he's doing then he'll play. He's got the backing of everyone.
Mind you, it probably helps that I'm doing all his heading for him! He can just sweep around.
CHAMBERS ON JAMES WILSON...
James Wilson came in and took his opportunity on trial. He was maybe looked at as a stop-gap signing, but there's no reason why we shouldn't be looking to keep him here for the rest of the season with the start he's made.
Five clean sheets in a row and we're looking to break a record on Saturday against Tranmere. He's been a major part of that.
He's a fantastic professional and a great guy to have around the place. I'm enjoying playing with him. He's no nonsense.
CHAMBERS ON KANE VINCENT-YOUNG...
We could stand here all day and go through the whole 11 and the whole 18 at the moment because everyone who steps into the team at the moment is playing well. There's not one player you could say isn't.
Kane has taken us to another level. I think it's a fantastic piece of business.
Again it's a decision that we - actually not we, but someone (Paul Hurst) - got wrong last summer in not signing him.
To have him here now is a fantastic signing for what we got him for (£500k from Colchester). He's another one people will be looking at soon.
He's an absolute weapon. You can play him on the right hand side on his own and he's still getting in at the back post to score and creating chances.
He's driving forwards, he's winning tackles he's winning headers.
He's settled in really well and we're enjoying having him here.
CHAMBERS ON POTENTIAL INTEREST IN PLAYERS...
You can't worry about that. As long as I've been here we've always sold our best players - rightly or wrongly.
When you're playing well and you're top of the league then teams are going to want to buy your players because you're not at the top level.
Now the main objective is to get out of the division. I don't think you could offer Marcus (Evans) enough money, this year, to get any of our players.
It's not something we're worried about.
CHAMBERS ON WHETHER HE'S GETTING THE SAME BUZZ IN LEAGUE ONE...
I think I'm more competitive. I wouldn't say, playing in the Championship for the last 10/11 years, that I was comfortable, but you're playing against the same players every season, you're going to the same grounds every season, you're playing in a team that's going to finish mid-table every season…
It's like an air of refocus that I've got, a refound enthusiasm to go and smash teams. I hadn't enjoyed my football for a while and I've made no secret about that. Now I'm enjoying us winning games.
I'm enjoying being part of this group of players, seeing them grow in confidence and embrace the pressure that comes with being an Ipswich Town player.
CHAMBERS ON LEAGUE ONE STANDARD...
I don't want to talk about it disrespectfully, but it is League One.
There is a difference in quality in this division. That's undeniable. In the Championship, if teams get half a chance they score or you're having to make a block.
You want your achievements in the game to come at the highest level possible.
We're just taking it one games as it comes. We've played good teams, we've played poor teams.
The main thing is that, when the opportunity arises, we win games. That's what we're doing at the moment.
CHAMBERS ON POTENTIAL TO KEEP A CLUB RECORD SIXTH STRAIGHT LEAGUE SHEET ON SATURDAY...
I don't think we should change anything we're doing at the moment.
We're not looking stretched, I don't think. The way we've played the last two games, with the 3-5-2 and the extra man in midfield, we've controlled games a lot more.
It's not happened for 90 minutes, obviously, and that's something we need to work on, to try and nail down a 90 minute performance.
We're winning our headers, we're winning our battles, we're covering around each other, we're playing as a team not individuals...
Yes, we can break a record, but that's not the be-all and end-all. We want 10 clean sheets in a row. We want to win 10 games in a row. We want to be unbeaten as long as we can. That's the aim.
The whole team have been fantastic defensively. Set-pieces we've been really strong. Everyone's doing their jobs.
When we have been under the cosh, at MK Dons and maybe at Gillingham a little bit, everyone has really got themselves in good positions.
We have that mindset of 'you're not going to beat us, you're not going to score a goal'.
Maybe we had a mentality last year where we got through one corner and the thought was 'oh no, there's another one coming'. There was maybe a negative thing in the back of heads that we would concede. I don't see that happening now.
As long as we're not complacent that will continue, I've got no doubt.
CHAMBERS ON HIS GOAL-SAVING TACKLE AT GILLINGHAM...
I love it! The good thing is that there haven't been too many occasions where we've had to do amazing pieces of defending.
The lads are defending well in front of us. Jon Nolan came running back on Saturday and made a great slide tackle.
Willo and Woolfy are getting a lot of praise and I'm doing my job. All I can do is try to make the boys next to me look as good as they are.
CHAMBERS ON SQUAD ROTATION...
I got left out for the Wimbledon game and that was hard to be watching, not playing. I'm not used to that.
At the end of the day the manager is the manager. He picks the team and he's got a very, very good squad that is the envy of the league.
He's got two players for every position of very, very good quality. We all know the score. I understand the games will come thick and fast.
I don't like being rotated and hopefully it doesn't happen for me.
I'm fit enough, I'm strong enough and I've proven over the last few years that I can play 46-50 games in a season.
But at the end of the day I will do whatever is required for this team to be successful.
If you're keeping five clean sheets in a row you can say 'not this week gaffer, I've got another game in me'.
I like to think I'll be playing Saturday, but that's the manager's decision.
We've got a good relationship. It is what it is. If I'm rested then I won't be happy, and he'll understand that.
If my stats drop or the fitness coaches tell him I need a rest then so be it... But I don't need a rest!
CHAMBERS ON BEING THE ONLY PLAYER INVOLVED IN BOTH THE FIVE SUCCESSIVE LEAGUE CLEAN SHEETS OF 2013 AND 2019...
Yeah, the one who's not good enough any more and too old!
We've had some good defences in the past. That season (2012/13) we really had to dig in.
Getting this record on Saturday would be a nice thing to be connected with, but we are where we are and I still don't enjoy talking about us being in League One. We want to get out of it as soon as possible.
If we can keep over 25 clean sheets this season then we'll be right up there.