‘Everybody is suffering’ – Lambert on loss to Fleetwood, Marcus Evans protests and League One slide
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town’s poor run of form continued with a 1-0 home loss to Fleetwood tonight, Here’s what manager Paul Lambert had to say.
Q: What's your assessment of tonight?
A: Everybody is suffering. Without a doubt everybody is suffering. The whole football club, the supporters, players, staff. Everybody is suffering. You press guys. Because the club is not winning. First half I don't think was good enough. Second half was better, we had a few chances to get a goal back, but it never happened. They controlled the game in the first half. I don't think we penetrated enough first half. We changed it second half.
But we'd lost our whole midfield from Saturday through injury and suspension, which never helped us. Young Brett (McGavin) came in and done well. He was only drafted in this morning.
We have to win games. The expectancy levels on us are huge and we're finding that hard to deal with.
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Q: You said this was a 'must win' game. What do you make of the situation now?
A: We have to win most of the games to give us any sort of chance to get in the play-offs, but you never quit and you never give in. When adversity hits you have to get through it. It might not feel that way at the minute, but when they do come through it they will be better players for it. That's especially the case for the younger guys, but even the older ones have taken a hell of a lot of responsibility on their shoulders.
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The weight on your shoulders to win a title is a hell of a lot different from just trying to stay in a league. The pressure between going to win something and having to win something is totally different.
Q: You could feel a change in mood tonight. You took the players over to acknowledge the fans at the end but they weren't really having it...
A: Even though they weren't having it, we had to go and appreciate the support. The support comes in its numbers. You have to take it. I said to the lads 'take what's happening at the minute and come through it' . As long as you never ever quit, that's the most important thing. Don't quit. They'll come through it, whenever that is - one month, two months, three months, four years, five years. If you come through it, you'll be a better player for it.
Q: How painful was it to hear the crowd's reaction tonight, with the chants about the owner and yourself?
A: It's not the first time I've ever had that in my life. I played for massive clubs where your life, not just the football, your life was under scrutiny. So for me as a person, I can handle nearly most things.
For some of the players this is the first time they've had this. I've told them they need to experience this suffering. When they do come through it they will be 100 times a better player, because they'll know what to expect when they don't perform, especially at a big club.
When you are going for a title, and you're expected to win a title, it doesn't matter what league, the pressure is totally different to staying in a league. Survival is different. Sitting middle table is totally different. When you are asked to go and win a title it's a totally different thing, especially if you've not experienced that before. Especially with a fan base that is big.
You have to have a strong mentality, you have to be strong willed, through adversity and through good times. Even when you do well and you get praise - let it go. When you get criticised - let it go. Never, ever dwell on things, good or bad. If you dwell on good things you might think you've arrived. if you dwell on bad things it takes you under. We've got young guys and older guys experiencing this for the first time.
You have to learn through adversity. That's what makes you as a footballer and as a person. One thing you never do is give in. You still have to keep going.
Q: I know things have gone against you this season in terms of injuries, but four wins in 24 games across all competitions - you could drop into the bottom half if others win their games in hand - that's not acceptable for Ipswich Town in League One is it?
A: Absolutely not. You asked me that last week and I give the same answer. It's not good enough that for the football club. It's not good enough for the football to get relegated to the Championship. That wasn't good enough. But that's where it is. You can't change that. The club should be 100 times better than what it is in this moment without a doubt.
Q: If you don't finish in the top six, which is increasingly looking like it could happen, then how big a failure would that be?
A: Huge. But as I said before, even at the start of the season, we never had a divine right to say we were going to bounce straight back up. All I said was we were going to give it a right good go and that it was going to be really, really tough. The guys haven't experienced this type of pressure before. The guys are young. The level of expectancy is huge. The only way to deal with that is through experience. It's not just going to be given to them.
Everybody suffers, but when you do turn the tide you don't forget what that feeling's like. Because it's always around the corner.
Q: Do you feel like the players are playing for you at the moment?
A: I think you're looking for unbelievable negativity with it all, alright. All I can say is the guys give me everything. In training they give me everything. When they go over the white line they have to go and play. One thing I'll never do is chastise them because I know how hard the game is.
Those guys are giving everything they've got. They're busting a gut to try and turn it around. I'll back them to the hilt. I'll never, ever chastise them. Yeah, we lose, but I'll never chastise them.
Q: Luke Chambers looked fairly disconsolate at the end. You had your arm around him walking all the way back to the tunnel. What was that chat about?
A: Luke has been here a long, long time. The young guys will feel it, but so will the experienced guys. It will be a new thing for Luke this as well. You just see how disappointed they are.
I counted eight first team players out tonight. Freddie (Sears) and (Teddy) Bish just coming back as well, who are not quite ready to start two games back-to-back. When you wipe out your whole midfield from Saturday it's a big, big chunk of your team.
We have to win games, I'm not disputing that at all. We haven't performed. Two months ago we were in the top six.
Q: You were top at the end of January...
A: Yeah, so there you go. I knew this would happen. Once guys started to see the finishing line, and it gets ramped up and ramped up, they have to handle that. This club will always have that. It's never going to go away. It's always going to have that fan base. You have to take the criticism when it comes. You take the praise when it comes. You should never get carried away by either.
Criticism unbelievably hurts, but you bag it up and once the tide turns you have to throw it back. Hopefully that's what will happen.
Q Do you feel you are capable of turning this form around? It obviously goes back quite a long time now.
A: Yeah. Listen, I've come through adversity before. The guys give us everything. We have to start to win. That's not rocket science that. We have to start to win games. Fleetwood, that attack can score. It was a similar goal to the one against Oxford. Second half was slightly better. Freddie came on and gave us an impetus down that side, but you're asking someone who has just been out for a year to do that. I couldn't really risk him starting again.
Q: Have Cole Skuse and Emyr Huws got a chance for Saturday?
A: Cole was a strange one. We never knew until after the game he had a gash on his shin and needed stitches in it. We couldn't take the risk unless it opened up again and got infected. Emyr was right out the blue this morning. He went for an x-ray on his toe, so that was a major blow. Flynn (Downes) was obviously suspended. That's the whole midfield from Saturday. Hopefully we get one or two back for this Saturday (Coventry at home).
Kane Vincent-Young is hopefully not too far away, same as Danny Rowe, but they've been out for a long, long time. The bonus is getting Freddie and Bish back. Is that too little too late? We'll have to wait and see.
Q: Have you seen Marcus Evans since the end of the game?
A: I saw him before the game. I didn't see him after. I very rarely see him after because he leaves early and he's got people he's with. I'll speak to him later tonight or tomorrow, which I always do.
Q: A lot of the anger was directed at him tonight. There was a banner about 'unambitious, underachieving' etc. What are your thoughts on that?
A: I don't like seeing like that for anybody. I don't think it's conducive to help, it's not nice. As I said before, if Marcus Evans wasn't here and nobody is going to take the club on then where does the club go? What actually happens to it? The same as Bury maybe? I don't know. Maybe.
He's been here, how long? Twelve years? I don't know what level of money he's put in over that time - but it's a lot. People saying 'don't own the football club' is not the answer. Everybody is suffering. There's not just one guy to blame. Over the years there's not blame attached to one person. It happens. Sheffield United were in this division for five years. Nottingham Forest have been in it, Leeds United have been in it, Sunderland, Southampton. You don't always get out at the first time of asking. It can take time. You have to take the hit while you're in it.
The thing is you have to stick everything together. You have to try and get recruitment, everything, right to bounce back up. The lads need a little bit of help, no two ways about it. The lads need a little bit of help.