‘We’ve taken absolute nonsense criticism...’ – Angry Lambert hits out following goalless draw at Oxford United

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert speaks to owner Marcus Evans and general manager Lee O' before his side's 0-0 draw at Oxford United. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Brenner Woolley, BBC Radio Suffolk

Q: What did you make of your side’s performance tonight?
A: I’m really pleased because of what’s happened. We’ve taken absolute nonsense criticism. So for them to be the way they were, with half a team of kids and nine injuries, I’m really pleased and proud of how we performed. Because the criticism those guys have took has not been right. It’s going to make or break them, We’ve got a lot of young kids and if they don’t handle that then the club is going to lose good players.

Q: Has it bothered them?
A: Well you stoke it. I don’t know what you say or write, but I know that they feel it, without a doubt. They’re really young kids. It’s really hard playing football, it’s not easy when the expectancy levels at the club are huge. It’s not right. It’s not right. There’s a lot of negativity attached to the football club. A hell of a lot. And it’s not right.

Q: Is the criticism not fair? It has come from the fans too, not just the media.
A: I’m not blaming anyone. I’m just saying there’s a lot of negativity attached to it. We’ve lost two games. We’re sitting four points off first place. That’s not bad for a team with nine guys out injured.
You’re telling me fourth and four points off top is bad? There’s a hell of a long way to go. So I’ll put that on record. You ask me a question and I’m giving you an answer. It’s unfair. You’ve got to watch that you don’t break those kids.

Q: Were you concerned about a lack of goal threat tonight?
A: Brenner, everything you say to me is negative. I’d hate to be married to you. Honestly. 
That’s what we’ve got (in terms of players available). As long as they are giving me effort I’m totally fine with it. We’re up against brick walls with the guys that are injured.
We’ve lost all the strikers, the whole midfield, we’ve lost centre-backs. Every position has gone. We’ve got nine guys out at the minute. I’m not going to sit here and criticise those guys one iota. I’m the manager and I’m proud of them.

Q: Good to have Jon Nolan back tonight?
A: Maybe he shouldn’t have played, because he’s not done anything since the Shrewsbury game. But I had to play him because Brett McGavin was taken ill during the night. We had to play him.

Q: What did you make of Armando Dobra’s full league debut?
A: I thought he done really, really good. He’s a young kid who will make mistakes like everybody else. What you do get with Dobs is great endeavour. There’s a devilment there that will stand him in good stead. Hopefully he’ll be another good player in the coming weeks, months, years.

Q: Pleased with the clean sheet?
A: I am. I can’t ask any more from them. Half those guys are academy guys. The two centre-backs are 19. Woolfy is 20/21, Lankester is a kid, Dozzell is a kid, Dobra’s a kid. Gibbs is on the bench. We are so lacking in depth due to injuries. I’m really proud with how they played.

Q: Oli Hawkins and Kayden Jackson gave you extra threat when they came on.
A: Oli gives us something different. I thought Aaron Drinan and Jack did well for the first hour. Then we put Oli and Jyaden on and they looked lively. I’m happy with how we played. We came to a difficult place.

Q: And now Andre Dozzell is suspended for Saturday’s game at Plymouth (for a fifth booking).
A: Yep, and that’s the way things are going. The point is it stops that two defeats thing. We get a point. We’ve got a long journey on Saturday and we’ll go and try and win.

Q: Will Eymr Huws be available at the weekend?
A: I don’t know. We have too many. They are all out. Every one. I’m not sure who will come back. We’ll have to wait and see.

Q: So has the criticism bothered you?
A: Did you see what happened at Celtic the other day? I played in front of it. I know exactly what it’s like. Does it bother me? No. Does the press bother me? No. I’ve played at big clubs. I’ve been the manager of big clubs. I’ve had a career where the pressure is incredible, absolutely incredible. I’ve never wilted once. I don’t expect to wilt again. Unless Marcus (Evans) says something different. 

Stuart Watson, EADT & Ipswich Star

Q: I’ve just seen (owner) Marcus Evans in the tunnel area. Did he go in the dressing room afterwards?
A: No, no, he doesn’t come in the dressing room. He’s pleased. We had a good chat. No problem. There’s no stress. He was happy.

Q: It was a young side tonight, seven players aged between 19 and 22, but...
A: We don’t have anything else. We have to play the guys. We have to. We played against a really experienced team, a good team. They were in the play-off final last year. The point is good.

Q: But your team didn’t produce a shot on target until the 90th minute against an Oxford side that hadn’t kept a league clean sheet in 18 games before today. Is it not fair to say that the team didn’t create enough chances?
A: Yeah. But we’re doing everything we can. The big thing for us was not to lose. Definitely not to lose. We gave it everything. Maybe that little bit of quality is lacking at the minute, but the endeavour and work rate – I’m really pleased.

Q: You must understand some of the criticism. That’s now 41 games in the league where you’ve lost more than you’ve won. In League One. That’s not a good stat is it Paul?
A: You’re one of the guys that the guys have got a gripe with because the negativity you write is incredible. I don’t read your stuff. You’re probably better hearing it from them. They’re certainly not happy with you and I get it, because the negativity is incredible. They are at a big club, some of them are young. It’s a massive club Ipswich Town. But the negativity attached to it is huge. That’s just my opinion on it.
There are a lot of young guys in there that have to perform. But the negativity attached to it...

Q: You’ve just said it’s unfair on the young players...
A: And the older ones.

Q: But in a recent press conference I asked you about being more critical of the younger ones than the senior players...
A: No I wasn’t. I tell you right now... That (squad) photo thing you wrote was a lot of nonsense. Stuart Taylor told you what happened. We couldn’t get the kids in because of the NHS thing. We couldn’t get them in. But you write a negative thing about it and it filters right through. How does that work? How does that work? Tell me how it works?

Q: I don’t know why we’re going back to that. But ultimately you chose to leave those young players out the squad photo. That’s fact.
A: Yeah, because we couldn’t. It’s NHS! Unless I’m wrong that’s only three words. Or three letters. Am I right or wrong?

Q: I don’t think we need to get into whether a few more players could have been squeezed into the shape of the letters NHS tonight Paul...
A: You write the negativity and it goes right through the club. I tell you what I will do. I’ll stick up for them. I’ll stick up for every guy and the dressing room and I’ll put you in you place. Because what you’re writing is garbage. I’m telling you, you are creating something incredible.

Q: We are people who have covered this club for a decade or more. When you first came in we chatted about the mood that was surrounding the club and the history behind it...
A: Yeah. There was no anger behind it. No anger. Because people had switched off from supporting the club. I spoke to the Blue Action guys. They told me about the apathy.

Q: Do you think we’re feeding the negativity or reflecting the mood?
A: I think you’re feeding it. That’s my opinion. You can have a go at me all you want. I’ve been in the game a long time and it’s not helping those guys.