The Verdict: 'Don't worry about a thing, cause every little thing, is gonna be alright'… hopefully
PUBLISHED: 12:00 31 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:01 31 March 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
After another defeat at home to Hull and post-match comments sparking fears over Paul Lambert's future at Ipswich Town, Andy Warren gives his verdict.
‘Don’t worry, about a thing, cause every little thing, is gonna be alright’.
As Bob Marley’s iconic ‘Three Little Birds’ rang out around Portman Road during the closing stages of Saturday’s game, it really did feel as if everything was going to be alright.
The song, started in the lower North Stand, was one of acceptance.
Acceptance that Ipswich Town’s relegation fate has been sealed, albeit not mathematically, taking the club down to a level they have not played at in more than 60 years.
But also an acceptance of Paul Lambert and his staff, an acceptance of their attempts to play and produce entertaining football, if not results, as well as an acceptance of the plan to reshape the club around its impressive young core and rebuild from the third tier.
But that acceptance and a new-found togetherness, which has bonded all areas of the club in its darkest hour, is why Lambert’s comments less than an hour after the final whistle were so confusing and worrying.
Lambert’s joint January statement with owner Marcus Evans, in which it was declared the manager would remain in post next season regardless of the outcome of this one, is what has underpinned all the good will his side have been shown of late. A feeling of togetherness, of taking a step back to hopefully take two forward and building something for the future.
His presence is the reason the club has felt as if it is sailing into uncharted waters with a captain who has his hand firmly on the tiller, rather than a ship drifting away aimlessly into the night.
So to hear him speaking so vaguely and cryptically about his future during a BBC Radio Suffolk interview was concerning.
Those comments took many by surprise, both inside the club and outside. That’s because every expectation remains that Lambert will be in charge come the end of this campaign and the start of the next.
Owner Marcus Evans, who was at Saturday’s game and has spent an increasing amount of time at the club in recent months, is understood to remain committed to Lambert, his staff and the plan to rebuild the club. He’s certainly not considering any changes to the club’s management.
For Lambert’s part, a source close to the Ipswich Town manager insisted on Saturday night that there has been no change in his desire to remain at the club and restore the Blues to their rightful place.
There has been no fall-out with Evans and no overtures from other clubs.
Lambert has been instrumental in ensuring the futures of Ipswich Town’s youngsters are secured, has driven the agenda on ticket pricing and fan engagement and has planned a pre-season trip to Germany.
He’s ensured captain Luke Chambers will remain at the club for a further two seasons and is working to tie Alan Judge down to a multi-year contract.
He is building for the future and has given no indication of a desire to leave.
He attended the ex-players dinner at Portman Road on Friday night and, by all accounts, came across as being firmly committed to rebuilding the club.
Why would he want to leave?
Lambert needs stability as much as Ipswich Town do right now, given his last three jobs have all lasted less than one season.
So did his post-match comments come from a place of frustration?
Frustration that his side failed to back-up the positive second-half display against Nottingham Forest, with defeat against Hull following an all-too familiar story?
Frustration for the club’s supporters, who he speaks of so highly, that he and his players were once again unable to deliver the victory their backing truly deserves?
A misinterpretation of the motive behind a question regarding his record as manager, which he is fully aware doesn’t include enough victories?
We must remember managers (and few are more emotionally invested in their team’s games than Lambert) speak to the media just minutes after the final whistle and have little chance for their frustrations to dissipate. This certainly wouldn’t be the first time a football manager has said something they regret, or that their words are misconstrued in the heat of the moment.
What Ipswich Town can’t afford right now is more uncertainty and another ‘will he, won’t he’ saga regarding the manager’s future. We’ve seen what damage that can do during the final months of Mick McCarthy’s reign.
There is no indication behind the scenes that Lambert is looking to move on so, when he addresses the media and supporters in his regular Thursday press conference, let’s hope he is able to assure the fans everything really is going to be alright.