'The club has shown its class...this is the football club I know' - Klug on Town's turnaround under Lambert
PUBLISHED: 06:00 22 March 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
ANDY WARREN spoke to Ipswich Town’s head of coaching and player development Bryan Klug about the state of affairs at both youth and senior level.
Can you explain your current role at Ipswich?
BK: My title is ‘head of coach and player development’ so for the last year or so I’ve been trying to not only work with our players but also our young coaches coming through.
That’s right through from the academy down to the lads working in the community and that’s a big part of my role.
But, as ever, what I see as the most important is the work I do with young players at all age groups.
How has this season been for you? It’s obviously been difficult at first-team level…
BK: How the first-team is doing obviously affects everyone at a football club so it’s been a difficult year from that point of view, but a very encouraging one with the progress we are making with the young players. That’s right the way through from Under 23s to the schoolboy teams.
The progression and improvement we’re seeing is brilliant.
Is the aim to get all age groups playing the same style of football?
BK: Yeah, of course it is and hopefully good football.
That comes in all different shapes and forms and there is no right way or wrong way of playing the game. It’s just about being effective.
We have to look at it strategically as an academy. Our main aim is to get players through into our first-team but there are also players we produce who might not be what we look for but will have a value. We have a twin aim there.
At academy level we have always had a reputation for playing whatever good football is but, generally, we go where the players take us.
If we’ve got the best players we have to make the best of them.
It’s a great goal to have every team playing in the same way but that’s not always possible.
It must delight you to see the number of kids who have broken through into the first-team this season?
BK: It’s always nice for everybody because there are so many people in the academy who put in so much hard work to the players.
You can’t put a price on that and it’s a great reward for them, their parents and everybody associated with the players.
Until they have played 40 or 50 games it’s not as if they have really made it yet but it’s nice to see people get a taste.
They aren’t just being thrown in because it’s a cup match and they’ve been able to hold their own.
I watched the game at Bristol City on the TV and to have six players in there on merit is brilliant. There’s a lot to be said to that and not many clubs can say that.
And are there more to come through? The Under 18s and Under 23s are doing well…
BK: There’s more to come from all of those and below that, in the group coming in and in the Under 15s, without putting too much pressure on them we have some good players.
The gap between academy and first-team football is massive and people have to appreciate that. The skill of bringing people through and playing them at the right time is really important.
That’s what the manager and his team are excelling at in my opinion.”
There is a clear pathway now, isn’t there?
There is and that’s the plan for the future of the football club, with the younger players.
The way we handle all of them and the way we introduce them to continue their progression is going to be a defining factor for us.
There aren’t many football clubs where you can sit down with parents and say there is a real pathway here. Clearly everyone can see that now.
The number of minutes and number of appearances from young players speaks for itself and the skill now is for those players to be able to continue improving.
I’m confident we’ve got enough to do that.
Nobody wants relegation of course but could there be a slight positive in that it’s easier to drop these lads into a League One side?
BK: I’m not sure about that to be honest.
It has worked for one or two other clubs but, whichever league we’re in, the big step from academy to the first-team is still there.
League One is not as high a standard as the Championship but it’s still a very, very big challenge for young players.
With a nice combination of the right senior players and good management, it could be great. That’s the plan, no doubt about it.
Is there still a threat of losing the likes of Ben Knight (Manchester City) or Charlie Brown (Chelsea) to clubs higher up the pyramid?
BK: Always will be I’m afraid, that’s the reality of it.
We’ll do everything we can to avoid that but that’s the nature of the game.
Part of our job is to provide revenue and if it’s done in that way then that’s the way it is, although we would obviously rather they were playing in our first-team first.
There’s very little we can do about that.
How impressed have you been by Paul Lambert’s impact since he arrived?
BK: It’s been quite remarkable in many ways.
Obviously we haven’t had the results that any of us wanted but, as a supporter of the club and someone who lives in the town, morale is remarkable.
We know where we were when Mick left and how low we were but this club has shown its class. That’s down to the manager and his team.
Credit to them on that.
We know the club needed an identity and it’s got that now.
It must delight you that the connection between the club and supporters is back?
BK: There is no doubt about that.
If you go to the stadium now you would think we are going for a play-off place rather than being where we are. That’s brilliant to see.
That’s the football club that I know. I arrived a long, long time ago and these are the principles of us.
We want to turn the results around and give everyone the results they deserve.
How important is it the club comes straight back up if the worst does happen?
BK: It’s important, of course it us.
We’re not a League One club but if we find ourselves in there we have to find a way of getting out.
That’s going to be very, very important but the rebuild isn’t going to be easy. People might have to be patient and if it does take a little bit longer then we’re all going to be ready for that as well.
With the players we’ve got we can expect a real good effort at it.