Lambert on calls for him to be sacked and reports of a 'mutiny'
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Ipswich Town have lost nine of their last 15 games. Manager Paul Lambert has the public support of owner Marcus Evans, but has come under increasing pressure from supporters. Here's what he had to say at this morning's press conference ahead of tomorrow's game at rock-bottom League One side Burton Albion.
To Brenner Woolley (BBC Radio Suffolk)
Q: I’m sure you can imagine the reaction to last weekend’s defeat (3-2 at home to lowly Swindon). Have you had any assurances from Marcus (Evans) that he is going to ignore any outside noise?
A: Number one, I don’t listen to all that stuff. I don’t get involved in all that. Marcus has been good with me.
Saturday wasn’t good enough. We never fought, we never ran, we never done the hard yards, we never did the other side of the game. It doesn't matter what time of footballer you are, you have to put the work in and I don’t think we ran hard enough on Saturday.
Q: How worrying was that?
A: I think that’s the worst we’ve played, that 45, all season. The lads know.
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To be fair, I’ve never labelled that at them before during my time here. They’ve always given me everything they’ve had. I just thought Saturday’s first half wasn’t good enough.
Q: Do you think Marcus will continue to back you? You don’t feel your time is coming?
A: I don’t really care to be honest. What can I do? What can do you do? I said this to you last season. If Marcus says go, you go. If Marcus says stay, you stay.
I get on really well with him. I don’t really have a problem with all that stuff.
Q: You can’t afford to lose at Burton tomorrow, can you? Surely? You can’t lose to the bottom two on successive Saturdays...
A: No. You’ve got to go out and get a result. Burton are a hard team, they’ve got a new manager and got a good result last week.
We’ve got to put the hard work in. If we do that then we’ll be fine. But you’ve got to win a battle before you win a war. That’s always been the case.
Q: I suppose you would say ‘judge me when all of these injured players are back’?
A: It’s up to other people to judge. I just pick the team, try and get the best out of the guys and try and get them to win games. That’s all that’s in my mind. The guys are my focus.
The guys hopefully give me everything. And apart from the first half on Saturday they’ve been fine.
To Donovan Blake (ITV Anglia)
Q: Has having the virus and, as you say, nearly being hospitalised, given you more of a perspective on football and work?
A: Well my life is more important. I still feel tired. It wasn’t nice. I still get headaches.
I guess everybody gets it differently and there are a lot worse off than me. There are people dying.
Q: If you’ve been affected by this badly, surely some of the players are still feeling the after affects too? Could that be a contributory factor to last week’s first half?
A: It could be. Everybody gets affected differently from this. Some have mild symptoms, some get it extreme and some are obviously dying.
The lads said they felt fine, but when you’re asked to go and play football and run at a high intensity for 90 minutes then it could have an affect. You’re never quite sure.
We lost a game and you don’t want to make excuses, but it could have an impact on the fatigue factor.
Q: How is it affecting you being able to do your job?
A: At the minute it’s difficult being hands on because I still get tired and I still get the headaches.
I’m getting better, which is good. I’ll be at the game tomorrow and can hopefully be in the technical area.
To Stuart Watson (EADT/Ipswich Star)
Q: What do you think the mood would have been like inside Portman Road last weekend had there been fans there?
A: They wouldn’t have accepted it. Not just that game. There have been games where we’ve not performed. When you’re at a big club you don’t expect to get a round of applause when you lose. That’s normal.
I was fortunate enough to play at big clubs. I know what it’s like. You’ve got to win more times than not. That’s the nature of being at a big club in a division where everybody expects you to get out of it.
It would be different if Ipswich were in the Championship, or something like that, and it’s like ‘we’re just up and we’re finding our feet again’. But when you’re in a division where people expect you to win, you have to cope with that criticism.
That’s when you have to be really mentally strong and see it through, because you will come through it.
Q: I guess that’s the point isn’t it Paul... You’re not winning more games than not. It’s four straight home defeats, nine defeats in 15, it’s 16 points from 13... How would you describe this run of form? It’s not just one or two games.
A: Aye, we’ve lost too many games. Hopefully the guys coming back will help us. We’ve been really light. We’ve had far too many injuries. But the other guys have to step up.
We’ve just lost too many games.
The good thing about it is that nobody is running away with it. Everybody is feeling the same sort of things. It’s a different type of season just because of schedule, the injuries and the lack of fans.
That’s football. I never surround myself with negativity. I never never surround myself with worry. I know how to handle it and I know how to deal with it.
The players, we have to get them in the mindset of ‘don’t worry what happens on the outside, just concentrate on what’s happening on the field’.
Q: For everybody reading these words, what is your message to convince them that this season will be different to last? Because there have been lots of similarities in terms of how things are tailing off again.
A: We speak to the lads about that. We did the exact same last year. We got off to a whirlwind start and in January time it tailed off. The same thing is happening now, but the good thing is that nobody is running away with it. It’s quite nip and tuck.
We’re hoping that the guys coming back from injury are going to give us something. We’ve had too many injuries. There have been times we’ve not had any strikers, we’ve missed the wide guys, the midfield was depleted. Ultimately you have to work hard. You can’t hide behind anything. Do the hard yards and you won’t go too far wrong.
Q: You’ve obviously got your playing principles and philosophy this year – the possession approach centred around the same system every week. Will you keep sticking to what you’ve been trying to do?
A: I learned my lesson about five, six years ago just trying to change systems left, right and centre. It never got me anywhere and I’ll never do that again. I spoke to loads of managers. They asked me ‘why do you keep changing the system?’ and I said ‘I’m just trying to get a win’. They told me ‘you just confuse people’ and they were 100% right. And I'm talking about top managers. I’ll never make that mistake again.
We have our own beliefs in how we want to play. I’ll never make that mistake again of just trying to win at all costs. Yes, you want to win, but my job is also to try and help players become better. I won’t change.
Q: You did change systems a lot last season though didn’t you Paul? So you’ve decided to move on from that?
A: Yeah...The guys coming back from injuries will give us that help. I think that’s important.
Q: There’s been a report this week that there is a ‘mutiny’ in the camp, that players aren’t happy. Can you address those reports please?
A: Well, I'm pretty sure you can ask any player. I’ve never had a fall-out. I have a laugh with them, I never have any arguments with them, as such. I tell them when I don’t think they’re doing well.
There's a tweet and you guys believe it. I can’t do anything about that.
Somebody told me once that people were talking about Bart (Bialkowski) arguing with a steward in the tunnel, something about a fight, but Bart left here two years ago!
It’s bizarre. I just laugh at all that nonsense. I don’t read anything, I don’t get involved. I just laugh.
Q: Can I take you back to one of your comments earlier about potentially being sacked. You said ‘I don’t care’. People might read that a certain way. Can you clarify?
A: You’re trying to misconstrue that...
Q: No, I’m giving you the opportunity to add some further context.
A: Well... What can I do? If somebody comes to me and says ‘listen, you need to leave’, what can I do? I’m not going to beg. You say ‘okay, no problem, thanks very much, see you later’.
You’ve got to remember I was at the highest level of football. I know how it works. I worked with unbelievable managers. No stress, no nothing. Pure stone cold focus on what I had to do.
If Marcus said ‘Paul, you need to move’ well what can I do? Beg? That’s what I meant when I said that whole thing.
Q: Marcus has been pretty clear, publicly, that this is a project and he’s backing you. But if ever did come to him sacking you, that would hurt you, wouldn’t it, if you had to leave this club having not achieved what you set out to achieve?
A: After any defeat in football, as a player or a manager, you hurt. That competitive thing never leaves you.
If I was playing you in a one-v-one situation now, well, excuse my French, but I would put you on your arse. And I would. Because there is no way you’d beat me. No way.
And that’s the same with a manager. When you lose it absolutely hurts you. The same as a player. It absolutely hurts you. That’s the way it works.
But when you get a decision that you can’t control... Okay, no problem. There’s nothing you can do. That’s down to the hierarchy.
Marcus has been great. I think he’s said to you guys what’s happening. He knows the constraints we’re under here.
I hope you write this the right way.
When we lose, that hurts. That’s always been the case.
Q: Just one more from me. There have been various supporters’ groups who have come out with statements calling for you to go. Do you think that’s fair? How does it make you feel? And what do you say to them?
A: Do you know what, you’re telling me something I don’t know.
The amount of letters you get from people saying ‘stick with it, stick with it, stick with it’ is incredible. But that never gets highlighted.
There’s been a lot of support.
All fans want their team to be successful. There have been too many years here without success.
Forty years ago was an incredible time at this football club. Then the promotion teams and all that. There have been great times and it’s been too long. This club has not had anything to celebrate really.
It’s not had anything for a long, long time, so I can understand how it works with supporters. If things don’t go their way, the first thing they come for is the manager. That’s what always happens.
We just hope that we can give them something. We have to give them something. We have to get that feeling back.