'I'm a little less scared of him now... I see his softer side' - Gill on Lambert
PUBLISHED: 17:00 01 October 2019
Matt Gill played under Paul Lambert at Norwich City, now he's the Scot's first-team coach at Ipswich Town. STUART WATSON spoke to the 38-year-old about how the pair's relationship has developed.
Ipswich Town coach Matt Gill says working with Paul Lambert isn't necessarily how people might imagine.
Gill played under Lambert at Norwich City before returning to the Canaries as an academy coach at the end of his playing career.
The 38-year-old was then head-hunted by Lambert after the latter took the Town job last October, swapping his role as Under-23s boss at Carrow Road for a first-team coaching role at Portman Road.
"I'm a little less scared of him now than I was before!" laughed Gill. "I think our relationship is slightly different now, but only slightly.
"Has he mellowed? No, but I think probably see his softer side slightly more than when I was a player, although I better make sure the players don't know there's a softer side to him!
"Stuart (Taylor, assistant manager) and I challenge him quite a lot, and the discussions can become pretty heated, but that's what it's about.
"There's no separation once the decisions are made, which is vital within a working environment, and I think that it's really healthy that sometimes people have different opinions on stuff.
"He's been really open as far as allowing us our opinions on team selection and the way we should play, so that's been really good for me."
Lambert joked recently that he rarely picked Gill during his time in charge of Norwich.
"He didn't!" said the former midfielder, whose career also saw him play in the lower leagues for Peterborough, Notts County, Exeter and Bristol Rovers.
"I actually signed for Gunny (Bryan Gunn). The gaffer then came in pretty quickly after that and I found it hard to get in the team, I'll be brutally honest.
"They went on an unbelievable run, I think in the two years I was there they never lost two games on the spin, so you can hardly go knocking on the manager's door. But obviously he saw something in me to stay in contact and eventually work for him."
Gill, who hung up his boots in 2014 following a player/assistant manager role at Tranmere, says he had always remained in contact with Lambert after leaving Norwich.
"I was 30 when I left there (in 2011), I signed for Bristol Rovers, we kept in contact, then he went on to Villa.
"I was starting to prepare for coaching and he allowed me to go into Villa to watch him work. I went in to watch him at every club he went to after that too.
"He helps a lot of young coaches like that. He helped me with a few decisions I had to make, gave me advice on my coaching, so that's how the relationship grew."
Gill worked with the likes of Jamal Lewis, Ben Godfrey and Max Aarons at Norwich, but isn't keen to talk too much about his time at Town's bitter rivals.
"We probably shouldn't dwell too much on that," he says with a look that is both reassuringly warm but also indicates that a line has been drawn under the Canaries chat. So we discuss his transition into senior coaching instead.
"I'm really enjoying it," he said. "It was a steep learning curve to start with, but I took loads from last season. I think that experience will help us all this season when things may be a little bit tougher."
On his dismissal from the touchline at Burton on the opening weekend of the campaign, the red card shown for kicking over a drinks cooler after keeper Tomas Holy had almost gifted the Brewers a late equaliser, Gill explains: "I don't know where that came from if I'm totally honest. Everyone builds up the first league game and I perhaps did a little bit.
"You'll be pleased to know it wasn't aimed at an official, it was at one of our own players. Tomas was going to help me out paying half the fine but he hasn't done that yet. He's making out he can't speak very good English when I go and speak to him!
"It's unlike me. I normally leave it to Stuart and the gaffer to get pretty fiery. I'm normally the calm one."
On the challenge of third-tier football, a level he played at himself, Gill said: "There's always been one or two big clubs or bigger clubs in this division, the likes of Leeds, Charlton, Forest, Southampton.
"We're going to come up against teams that are going to be hard to play against, away from home there's going to be some really important fixtures, but at the moment we just need to do what we're doing, take one game at a time and keep churning out those results.
"It's important that we make sure we stick to doing what we're doing."
He continued: "The lads are going to have to show loads of courage this year. There are going to be times where teams come and defend really well and we'll have to keep believing and sticking together.
"Everyone's going to need to show bravery and show courage to get on the ball when maybe things aren't going great just to get those important wins and goals that we need."
With Town having scored 20 goals in 10 league games so far - James Norwood and Kayden Jackson with five apiece - Gill added: "It does give a massive lift, knowing that you've got goals in the team.
"At times last year, I'm not speaking out of turn, we probably felt that if we conceded then we were going to struggle to win games because we were struggling for goals a little bit.
"This year to have loads of firepower is superb. We've got loads of options, so it's an opportunity for everyone to be really forward-thinking and attack-minded."