Dave Gooderham: Lambert’s nailed the PR – now he has to start winning

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert has rebuilt the relationship between the club and its fans - but he h

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert has rebuilt the relationship between the club and its fans - but he has to start winning games, and quickly Picture: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town fan and former sports journalist turned PR expert Dave Gooderham looks at the League One season ahead in the first of his new weekly Blues columns.

James Norwood during the Ipswich Town open day at Portman Road Picture: ROSS HALLS

James Norwood during the Ipswich Town open day at Portman Road Picture: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Think positive thoughts.

On paper, there should be many reasons for Ipswich Town fans to enter another #newera with some optimism.

A proper goal-getter, a healthy reliance on some hugely promising young players and a genuine sense of positivity on the terraces - to name a few.

So why is it that I keep going back to a nagging nine words?

"How long does Lambert have until the fans turn?"

I don't want to start my first Ipswich Town column - coming to you every Thursday folks - with a wave of negativity.

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But we also can't ignore the stats.

Paul Lambert's competitive win record currently stands at four wins from 32 games. Paltry, at best.

MORE: The day I nearly left the Blues - part one of our Luke Chambers exclusive

On the flip side, his public relations have been a campaign of almost award-winning standard and certainly worthy of a dissertation for any PR student stydying how to overcome a crisis.

To see his relegated side virtually applauded off the pitch in the last throes of last season was uncomfortable, as I know it was for the players.

Credit must also go to Lambert who took on a tough gig, made little impression on it but got everyone back onside.

Luke Garbutt hits the side netting at Cambridge Picture Pagepix

Luke Garbutt hits the side netting at Cambridge Picture Pagepix

But as an esteemed colleague said, the PR campaign can only a short-term measure. Start this season badly and fans will quickly look up the 2019 win record, rather than analyse what is a tricky opening to a new league.

All eyes, all attention, will now be focused on 3pm on Saturday.

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Ipswich must get off to a good start. Maybe not winning every game, but not losing too many is essential, as is, for me, playing in a more attractive style - and there have been glimpses of the latter in pre-season.

I, for one, can't wait for this new journey. My club, and my love for it, had got stale. I was bored of the Championship, bored of Mick (though largely thankful for what he did) and I wanted a change.

Of course, I would have preferred that change to be more upward than downward, but we are where we are.

Another thing that I quickly grew tired of, more recently, was pre-season. Actually the pre-season drama and overreaction that comes with every whisper and snippet.

I'm mainly referring to Alan Judge who has gone from ITFC darling to public enemy number one to now a man that our hopes cling to once more. 'Irish Messi'… well things certainly got messy as QPR's flirtations became public.

Now that unwanted link has seemingly ended, a lot of Ipswich's hopes are again linked with the Irishman.

The sight of seeing Judge, Emyr Huws and James Norwood on the same pitch at the Abbey Stadium was enough to give even the most half-empty Town fan a positive feeling. Keep those three fit and we will have a chance.

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Any promotion push will need to be made without Bartosz Bialkowski after he finally completed his move back to the Championship with Millwall.

As for so many, Bart has been one of my favourite players in recent seasons.

One look at the compilation of top Town saves that greeted his departure is testimony to what he has given to our club - often single-handedly.

But we move on, we have to, starting with the imposing figure of Tomas Holy in goal and an untested defence in front of him.

Moving up the park, there are real signs of positivity - both in Saturday's ranks and among those waiting in the wings of the treatment table.

So why do I suggest Lambert is against the clock?

I do fear a minority - and I stress a minority - might remind themselves of Lambert's past, and indeed the scene of his greatest triumph, if we are languishing in 16th a couple of months into the League 1 unknown.

He needs to quickly start improving his win record.

More likely, the pressure would intensify further on owner Marcus Evans.

I've got bored of talking about basement bins and loan signings but here we are again. Evans dipped his hand in his pocket in funding Norwood, wages-wise, but that is almost it.

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Everyone can see that Lambert needs a centre back and most believe that he is unsure about his right-backs, a position that could be filled by Cole Skuse on Saturday.

Lambert has the PR sewn up but now needs help on the pitch. All eyes remain on the owner.

For now, 48 hours before Saturday matchday returns, we can only focus on the football.

Shaky at the back, exciting going forward, it all adds up to an intriguing and hopefully entertaining start to the season.

Get everyone fit, and keep them that way, and Ipswich certainly have a chance.

I, for one, can't wait.

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