Lambert wins manager-of-the-month prize... so does history mean the Blues are cursed at Blackpool?
- Credit: Archant
Paul Lambert has won the manager of the month award for September. ANDY WARREN looks at the much-discussed ‘curse’ which comes with the prize.
So, here we are again. Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert has won his second manager of the month award with the Blues and it’s time to discuss whether this weekend’s visit to Blackpool is now cursed.
The curse is a real fear amongst fans and it is founded in at least some level of statistical reality, with the recent histories of Lambert, Town as a club and League One showing that teams don’t have things particularly easy once a boss has won the award.
Lambert shut down all talk of a curse a year ago, though, the day after he picked up the award for August as the Blues’ fast start was recognised.
“I’ve never been superstitious or bought into any of that,” he said last year. “I think if you’re like that you’re maybe a bit weak in the mind.
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“I’ll go and try and win and it doesn’t matter, that kind of thing.”
Town ultimately drew their next game 0-0 with Doncaster but he’s likely to say the same again after winning this year’s award for September, with his Town side topped the table following three 2-0 wins and a treble of clean sheets.
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But should he fear the curse? Let’s take a look.
Ipswich managers have only previously won manager of the month awards four times since the EFL was re-structured in 2004, creating what we now know as the Championship and League One.
And the good news is the curse has never completely struck.
Joe Royle was the first to pick up such an award, claiming the second-tier prize in November 2004 following a month made up of four wins and one draw. His first game after winning the award was away at Crewe, with the Blues coming from 2-0 down to secure a 2-2 draw thanks to Richard Naylor and Darren Bent.
Mick McCarthy picked up the prize in both September 2014 (when Tyrone Mings also won the player of the month award) and then again in November 2015 (alongside Daryl Murphy). These were followed by a 1-1 home draw with Blackburn and a 1-0 victory away at MK Dons.
Lambert’s previous win was followed by a draw with Doncaster but, on the basis of this evidence, there’s no curse to worry about.
However, George Burley had a less successful time after picking up individual prizes. The November 2000 award was followed up by a 1-0 defeat at home to Derby, August 1999’s prize brought a 1-1 draw with Portsmouth and the five-successive wins which won the March 1998 gong were rewarded by a 2-1 defeat at promotion rivals Nottingham Forest.
All-in-all that’s a bit of a mixed bag in terms of Town’s history.
But what of Lambert?
The Town boss has now won six monthly awards during his career in the dugout.
His successes with Colchester were recognised in January 2009 but a 1-0 loss to Tranmere followed, before he secured back-to-back awards with Norwich in December of that year and January 2010.
That stunning run saw the Canaries go 12 games unbeaten and win the final eight of those before, you guessed it, the men in yellow lost their first game in February as they went down 2-1 to Millwall.
They still won the league, though, and followed that up with a second-place finish in the Championship to secure Premier League football. Lambert’s success in the second tier was never rewarded with a monthly award but he did ultimately pick up the LMA Manager of the Year award for the Championship.
His only monthly award in the second tier came with Wolves in March 2017, which was again followed by a defeat as the men from Molineux went down 3-1 at Bristol City.
Then, when bringing the draw with Doncaster into the equation, Lambert’s post-award record really isn’t all that promising.
The League One picture
Looking back over the third-tier winners over the last four years shows a mixed bag when dealing with the ‘curse’.
The 34 monthly winners followed up their success with 12 wins, eight draws and 13 defeats – with one figure missing from those totals given Mark Robins and Coventry didn’t play another game after winning the February prize, with the season called off due to the pandemic.
Only 35% of winners followed up with three points, with 58% avoiding defeat. If you want to look at those numbers a little more negatively, 61% failed to win and 38% ultimately lost.
Last season’s numbers are a little more positive, though. Only Accrington lost their next game (4-1 at Portman Road) following John Coleman’s win, while four of the seven winners won their next league match (Sunderland beating Ipswich in February was one of those). Lambert was the only man to draw, while Robins and Coventry didn’t play.
If you were hoping to get to the end of this article and have conclusive proof regarding the existence of a curse, then I’m sorry to disappoint you.
What the histories of Town, Lambert and League One show is that it’s entirely possible for teams to win, lose or draw the game immediately following the manager of the month award is handed out.
But the stats also show teams are far more likely not to win the following game than they are to pick up three points.
Stacking up all 44 monthly winners mentioned in this article gives an overall record of W14 D12 L18.
Does a curse exist? That one’s up to you to decide.