O'Neill on Lambert: 'He did the best job he could do with the players he had'

Manager Paul Lambert and general manager Lee O'Neill have both tested positive for coronavirus

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert and general manager of football operations Lee O'Neill. Photos: Steve Waller - Credit: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town general manager Lee O'Neill has said Paul Lambert did the best job he could with the players he had.

O'Neill was speaking to the press today, less than 24 hours after Lambert departed Portman Road.

And while he acknowledged Lambert didn't achieve what he or the club wanted during his tenure, there were circumstances that contributed.

Ipswich Town's general manager of football operations Lee O'Neill. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown

Ipswich Town's general manager of football operations Lee O'Neill. Photo: Archant - Credit: Archant

So, did Lambert underachieve with the resources he had?

"That's always difficult," O'Neill said.

"It's not easy to say it is down to one thing. We as a club had a lot of injuries. We had the Covid situation in the last 12 months, the salary cap situation. You have got to look at everything at the club and we need to make sure we can strive to be better than what we are at the moment. Because we need to be up the league.

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"He did the best job he could do with the players he had."

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The clamour for Lambert to go had been building among many fans for awhile, although ironically Town have just hit some good form with back-to-back wins over play-off-chasing clubs. Was the timing right for Lambert to go?

"I think it's never a great time or good timing when you are looking to make a change in the manager," O'Neill said.

The new salary cap will give Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans and general manager of football operations Lee O'Neill some...

The new salary cap will give Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans and general manager of football operations Lee O'Neill some food for thought. PHoto: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

"It just got to a point from Paul's perspective and the club's perspective where it was difficult to continue. It's been great the last couple of weeks, some of the performances and results, but you know it has been ongoing for a while, with his frustrations, so the decision was made to make that change in the manager.

"Paul is a person with high standards and he wants to achieve things and for things to be done in a certain time frame and obviously that's difficult.

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"But he was great, very professional along the way. Great with the players in trying to get the team set up to get results every week. It was just an ongoing relationship. These things get to  a point where it is best for the club to look for a new manager."

Was Lambert backed enough by Evans?

"We added players in the summer," O'Neill said. "Obviously the last window we were restricted, having to go for a certain type of player, salary cap side of things and age. Hitting the right criteria, we managed to bring players in.

"So, from that side of things Marcus has been supportive. Of course any manager would like more. But he definitely tried to support him with the best he can and if you look at our squad I do think it's competitive and a healthy one that can compete for promotion this year."

But does Evans regret giving Lambert the five-year contract?

"It hasn't worked our for that length of time, we get that and understand that," O'Neill said. "It was to try and implement a long-term strategy.

"Marcus' thoughts were to try and secure a manager looking at a long-term plan to bring through home-grown players - that isn't going to happen overnight.

"It's a project and all of those things on reflection we needed to do better. But it hasn't worked out, but we are positive on moving forward."

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