Lambert on job security, his inner-fighter, Warnock rumours and his five year deal being ‘not worth the paper it’s written on’
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert spoke to the media this morning after pressure increased on him following Tuesday night’s loss to Fleetwood Town.
How have things been since Tuesday, how's the atmosphere?
PL: "Listen, even when we win we never get too high and never get too low and that's really important, how you handle defeats.
"It's the same with a winning streak, you never get too high or too low. The lads have been fine, they're disappointed with the run but the beauty of football is you always have a chance to rectify it."
What about you personally? You're not a robot, you have feelings...
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PL: "You don't know me from Adam at all. My inner strength is really strong and I never do anything to benefit myself, only to benefit the team and the football club.
"If anyone knows my career over the last 15 or 20 years there weren't many things that fazed me. I played in front of 100,000 giving me abuse and played in front of everything, in one of the biggest derbies in the world (Old Firm, for Celtic), and was abused incredibly over the course of 90 minutes. On the pitch and off the pitch.
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"I don't get involved in anything and my inner strength is my mind. That's my strength. If you're going to beat me you really need to put me down."
Has Marcus (Evans) been in touch over the last couple of days?
PL: "Aye and he's been fine. He's not happy and nobody's happy because everyone is suffering. The abuse Marcus gets isn't nice but if he comes in here and pulls the plug one day, where does it go? That's what I'd like to know. What happens?"
Has he given you assurances about your job?
PL: "A vote of confidence? I never go into it or worry about it because whatever is going to happen will happen and it's not something I will worry about.
"If you lose your job, which happens, it's not nice, but you carry on. Marcus has been really good to me.
"I can handle this guy, this guy and this guy being linked, it's no problem. I don't do social media, I love my life in football and love the game and do my best. If my best's not good enough, do problem.
"The club needs a bit of help, he (Evans) knows that and everyone knows that. We tried to bring in people in January and we tried to buy people but couldn't do it. That's the way the club is. There's no magic formula that's going to jump out of the woodwork."
Is it a scenario where you have to win Saturday's game or anything like that?
PL: No, no. We don't talk about anything like that. We talk about the game and other things and you don't get caught up in it or worry about it. You guys probably worry about it more than I do.
"What's the worst that can happen? I lose my job? There's more things in the world to worry about."
Does it hurt when somebody else is linked with your job or do you just laugh it off?
PL: "I don't worry about it, I don't get involved in it. Link all you like, I'm not bothered."
That speculation with Neil Warnock is out there so how do you react to that?
PL: (Laughs) I don't worry about it. It's no problem. What do you want me to say? I don't have one problem whether it's Neil, Pep, Jurgen or Antonio Conte, it doesn't bother me. I'm just trying to do my best.
"It doesn't bother me. When I do eventually leave here I'll always look back and think 'wow, what a club that is'.
If things happen like they did on Tuesday do you think you'll still be here on Monday?
PL: "Dear oh dear, are you married? I wouldn't like to be your wife. It's 9am!
"Ask Marcus that. Don't worry about me. I have my own thoughts about it and I'll do my best. If my best's not good enough then no problem.
We'd love to ask Marcus but we never have the chance, that's the problem.
PL: Well who's problem's that?
(Ipswich Town media manager interjects: "I'll tell you Paul will be here on Monday then... he will be.")
Do you still see yourself here for the long-term?
PL: "I hope so but I've been involved in clubs before where people say 'you're going to stay, you're going to stay' and then the next thing you're away.
"It's football for me, it's no problem."
This job isn't impossible, is it? If Pep Guardiola was here, or Jurgen Klopp, they would find it difficult wouldn't they?
PL: "Those guys are incredible. I think Pep said the other week that when you have great players the game becomes a lot easier. If he went somewhere else and couldn't invest he would struggle - that's what he said. And he's the greatest manager in the world along with Jurgen at the minute.
"Without the resources, the infrastructure or the finances to back it, it becomes very difficult. You can ask any manager that. You need to have the tools to do it."
Do you think it's going to be a massive summer here?
PL: "If it fails and doesn't go up then you're going to have to look at it and other things. The guys give you everything but they need a bit of help."
Do you think people might have to accept it might take years to get back to the Championship?
PL: "Nobody knows because you want to try and get out at the first time of asking. But I'll go back to it - Sheffield United took five years, Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest too.
"There's Sunderland too, a big club, and this is their second year. It just shows it's not easy and you have to earn the right.
"Nobody knows if it will be the first, second or third time. If somebody said to you Sheffield United took five years and all of a sudden they're sitting eighth in the Premier League you would say it's an incredible rise."
Can a club go up too soon, do you think?
PL: "It can never be too soon, I'd rather have that problem than not.
"You'd rather go up. Whether you're ready to stay up, nobody knows. It's the same as going from the Championship to the Premier League where people can say you've gone up too soon and you then come straight back down again. The difference there is you come straight back down with about £100million in your pocket to reinvest again."
Paul, when you first came in you spoke to a lot of people inside and outside the club to get a handle on why it had drifted to where it was. Did you always have a feeling that some discontent could potentially bubble to the surface again at some point? As you said earlier, six or seven years has led us to this point.
PL: "That's just what I heard but I never really thought about it. You can see what happened in the past but I don't delve into it because I know how hard it is.
"The frustration of Tuesday night... when you come to a game you want to enjoy yourself. I wouldn't come to a football game and abuse somebody because I'm paying £30. Why is that enjoyable?
"I understand the team isn't winning and everything but that's when you need everybody. It needs everybody to go the same way. I understand the frustrations but that's when you need everyone to go the same way."
Looking back on this season is there anything you would do differently?
PL: "There always is, every year and every day. The way the club is, if Marcus could spend millions on guys (then great) to give the group a hand but there isn't the finance there. He's said you have to work within the parameters."
Do you think success is achievable then, within those parameters?
PL: You need help, everybody knows that. You need to help the guys. Young guys like Tyreece (Simpson) came on the other night and just a year ago the kid was playing rugby, so that's where the club is.
"We have to keep the faith with the guys. They give us everything but it's just not happening."
You've used examples of 'big clubs' who have needed a bit of patience after dropping into League One. Sunderland are on their second manager in their second year at this level; Leeds had three in their three years; Sheffield United had five in their six years; Forest, two in three; Sheffield Wednesday, three in two... Can you buck that trend? The pressure does fall on the manager. Generally, if success doesn't happen quickly for clubs like this in League One, the manager is the one that tends to get the bullet. Can you ride that storm?
PL: "If that happens then no problem. Nothing fazes me and I'm strong mentally because of what I've been through and because I'm a fighter. I came from an incredibly hard part of Glasgow and my up-bringing was really strong, so it's no problem.
"You can ask me questions from now until kingdom come but you'll never get it because I'll just bat the negativity back to you. I don't do online or social media, it doesn't bother me.
You talk about being a fighter. Do we need to see those qualities in the players because it was the nature of the first-half performance on Tuesday night which set the tone for the crowd. It was a big, 'must-win' game and yet the performance was flat.
PL: "Absolutely because we didn't do enough. We changed the system and personnel a little bit but we were too passive in the first-half.
"We need to go for everything and just run and run and run. Hopefully that moves into the stands and people get behind us.
"The players need to not worry about anything, other than giving it everything they've got. Great teams can not play well at certain times and still do enough to win. Great teams can play really well but then come up against a better opponent and then lose.
"We're on a losing streak at the moment but we have to try and arrest it. So as long as the commitment's there that's all you can ask from any footballer.
You always said it wasn't going to be a quick fix here and that you needed three or four windows to make this your squad. Do you still feel that's the case?
PL: "You need time, any manager will tell you that. Someone told me what Tony Pulis said the other day, that one bad transfer window can set you back five years - and he's done great in jobs he's had.
"Everything has to be spot on for it to happen but it takes time. Whether you get that time is another matter."
You've been in the game long enough now to know how it works - managers get contacted while one is still in work. Marcus Evans picked up the phone to you while Paul Hurst was still in a job...
PL: Marcus picked up the phone to me?
You've said in an interview that prior to the Swansea game (three matches before Hurst was sacked) you had first spoken to Marcus, so managers do get sounded out don't they?
PL: "They will do, yeah."
So are you worried about that happening now?
PL: "Have you not listened to what I've said? I don't care if Marcus phones Pep or Jurgen, what am I going to do? 'Please don't do it, please don't do it'? No."
He did give you a five-year contract, does that mean anything?
PL: "You know and I know contracts aren't worth the paper they're written on. I don't get caught up in the whole thing. I've spoken to world class managers all over Europe since the other night and to every one I've told the same."
You've mentioned budget restrictions but the widespread view is probably that this squad should be better than ninth in League One. Would you agree with that?
PL: "Aye, I would because two months ago we were sitting top of the table.
"The last few games we've not been at it at all and we should maybe have beaten Sunderland and Oxford, so that's frustrating because we should have put the ball in the net.
"We should be higher up because two months we were sitting first. That's why, when the pressure comes on the lads, we should be able to handle it.
"Yes we've lost all the strikers but you have to come up with a scenario where you get results.
Can you understand the frustrations of the fans?
PL: "Yes, but social media isn't something I would entertain at all if I was a professional sports person - that's my opinion.
"Some people can use it to build brands, I get that, but I certainly wouldn't get into a fight with someone on a keyboard. Pick up the phone and I'll meet you somewhere, I'll do that.
"Don't go behind a keyboard and say this, this and that. That's nonsense."
Do you still feel the play-offs are...
PL: "Absolutely, we'll go for it. The top two? Absolutely, we'll go for everything. I'm not used to being in a situation where I go 'ah, I'll toss it away, toss it away'. I'm not like that as a sports person. I'll go for everything."