North Stander: 'We cannot blame Lambert for everything, and not all his decisions are wrong'
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller www.ste
Ipswich Town fan and journalist Terry Hunt gives his take on the Blues after the win at rock bottom Burton Albion on Saturday...
Do you know what? It won’t make me popular, but I am beginning to feel just a little bit sorry for under-fire Paul Lambert.
Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t think he is doing anything like a great job, and I suspect a different manager would probably get more from a squad which is very strong in a League One context.
It’s just that we’ve reached a point where every single decision Lambert makes is viciously criticised, or ridiculed by some Town supporters, such is the level of their animosity towards the manager, and that can’t be right.
There was another example on Saturday. The announcement of the team, and the absence of Luke Woolfenden, saw another explosion of expletive-ridden social media abuse.
Most of the critics were suggesting that Lambert had singled out Woolfenden as a punishment for his no-holds-barred interview immediately after the Swindon debacle.
If anyone should be dropped, they said, it ought to be loanee Mark McGuinness, and not our own promising academy product.
The point which was conveniently overlooked, of course, was that Woolfenden has been nowhere near his best this season. As it transpired, Toto Nsiala came in and produced a man of the match performance.
Meanwhile, McGuinness also played a big part in keeping a clean sheet - yes, I know it was only Burton - and also scored the winning goal.
So, as it turns out, it looks like a smart decision by the manager. I know it’s unfashionable, but I do believe he should be given some credit for that.
What I’m saying is this - we cannot blame Paul Lambert for everything, and not all his decisions are wrong.
It’s clear that, given the size and strength of our squad, we should be doing a great deal better. In my view, we ought to be in the automatic promotion places.
The fact that we’re not is a huge disappointment, and the way we’re playing is simply awful. Watching Ipswich Town feels more like a punishment than a treat, and has done for a while.
Whose fault is it? Of course, the buck stops with the manager. As I’ve already said, I don’t think he is doing well. But it’s not right to suggest that he gets every decision wrong. Equally, the turgid performances we are seeing are not all his fault.
The players have to have to take their share of the responsibility. There has been speculation in the past few days about a “dressing room mutiny” which I suppose would explain some of the displays.
Is that true? Who knows? It certainly didn’t look like that against Burton. It was far from pretty, but at least the players dug in and got themselves a result. Would a bunch of mutineers have done that?
Back to Lambert. The mood music from Portman Road seems to be that owner Marcus Evans is sticking by the manager. I suspect that’s true, and will remain so while we stay in touch with the promotion race. Despite everything, we are undoubtedly still in with a good chance.
Some of Lambert’s critics seem to believe that, if the demands for his head reach a crescendo, then the manager will magically be on his way.
Not necessarily so. Yes, we know that Evans takes fans’ views into account, but he has made his position clear with his recent, controversial reference to “be careful what you wish for.”
So...we are where we are. The manager will stay - at least for the time being. The team is underperforming, for whatever reason. But, despite all that, we are still in touch with the promotion race.
Now we come to the acid test with games against Peterborough and Sunderland. Yet again, the team will be asked the question: Can they beat their promotion rivals?
Failure to do so in these two games will obviously intensify the pressure on Lambert, leave us adrift of the top six, and will mean that Marcus Evans has to make a decision.
Should he stick with Lambert, or gamble that a new manager can transform performances quickly enough to engineer an escape route from this dreadful division?
One thing is for sure - after the Peterborough and Sunderland games, we will have some answers. We will know more about the manager’s ability to motivate the players, and how much the team wants to play for the manager. We will certainly need much, much better performances.
The answers we get from the next 180 minutes of action might well determine whether Marcus Evans steps in to make the change which many are calling for.