‘The future of the club is about the young players’ – Lambert on short-term signings replacing homegrown players
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
There wasn’t a single homegrown player in Ipswich Town’s starting XI at Blackburn last weekend. STUART WATSON asked Paul Lambert about his youth policy following the addition of six January signings.
Q: You said after the Blackburn game that Callum Elder (on loan from Leicester) would learn from experience. Some have said that it would be more beneficial for Myles Kenlock to be getting that experience at left-back over the coming weeks. Where do you stand on that debate regarding short-term signings blocking the path of homegrown players?
A: The club has to get back to (developing) its own, but if Jonas (Knudsen) says he wants to go then we have to go and get somebody to help Myles (Kenlock).
If anything were to happen to Myles there would be no real left-back at the club apart from Bailey Clements, who’s only a kid.
They are only kids and that’s a big burden. We had to go and get somebody to help.
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Myles has done really fine, he’s in the reckoning, but he’s a young guy. There’s that fine line and balancing act.
Q: There wasn’t a single homegrown player in your starting XI at Blackburn. Is developing players from within still very much part of your long-term plans?
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A: A million per cent. Oh for heaven’s sake the club can’t keep doing what it’s done. That’s an impossibility. It has to have a structure right the way through. We’ve got to have a clear identity where the fans know what’s going to happen, you guys (the media) know what’s going to happen; ‘this is the way Ipswich Town is going to go’.
We can’t keep loaning people every time. It stops the pathway for young players coming through. You might not get instant results (by playing youngsters), but you’ll get an identity back within the club.
Once that keeps growing and growing and growing then it will take care of itself. But you can’t keep doing what you’re doing. As I said before, you may as well throw your money out in the street.
Q: So what your saying is that signing six players this month wasn’t really what you wanted to do in an ideal world. You felt it was needs must?
A: They needed help. The lads needed help. I think everybody recognised that.
Ideally you don’t want to go through that every single summer or January. It’s too much, it’s far too much.
The turnaround in the summer, either way, is going to have to be big. You have to get your own players in.
But there has to be a pathway for the young ones to come through.
As I said before, this club has got some really good young players here, really good, and that’s gone under the radar.
I could go through them all – (Andre) Dozzell, (Flynn) Downes, (Teddy) Bishop, (Jack) Lankester… You could go through to the 18s, the 16s, the 15s...
But they need a pathway. And they need a manager who’s going to say ‘I’ll give you a chance if you’re good enough’.
Q: Can you damage young players by giving them too much game-time in a relegation battle?
A: Yeah. It’s not fair. That’s unfair on them. I got thrown in when I was 15 myself, but that was a team and a dressing room where everybody was a man. I had great players around me.
We’ve got young guys trying to help young guys. It’s too many. We needed Collins to come in, we needed (Collin) Quaner, (Will) Keane, (Alan) Judge... Guys that had done it.
But the future of the club is about the young players. It’s one of the most exciting set of young players I’ve seen. It could be unbelievable.
Q: How bright is the future?
A: This club has undersold itself with the young players it has here. These lads are handling themselves at a high level under me. They are getting into a way of playing and getting to know me as a person and the way I work. Next year they will be stronger for it, miles stronger.
Young players have to get thrown in at some point to see whether they sink or swim. They just need a manager to take a chance on them.
I was fortunate I had a manager like that when I was growing up and I’ll be the same. That’s the way I’ve always done it. Any club I’ve been at I’ve always given youngsters a chance.
Q: Do you feel the academy coaching here matches your football philosophy?
A: No. They don’t play my way. We’ll try and implement that and sweep it right through. Everyone has to play the same way as the first team.
Results don’t matter at that age, it’s about getting players through to the first team. Everybody has to play the same way so the transition is smooth.
When they do hopefully hit the first team everybody needs to know the patterns of movement and exactly what’s going on.
We will have a coaches meeting really shortly to say how this club is going to play. Everybody who comes to this club has to play that way. That’s important.
Then you can try and get players who fit your way and system.