Lambert’s the man tasked with reviving Ipswich... so how does the new boss’s style, recruitment and past fit at Town?
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town are set to appoint Paul Lambert to replace Paul Hurst in the Portman Road hotseat. Andy Warren looks at what the new man brings to the table
Lambert played 500 games in Scotland for St Mirren, Motherwell and Celtic as well as 40 for the Scottish national team, but his most memorable moment arguably came during his one season in Germany.
He was the best player on the pitch as Borussia Dortmund beat Juventus 3-1 to win the Champions League in 1997, making him the first British player to win the famous competition with a foreign side.
On the ball at City
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Lambert’s career in management got off to something of a false start but has since been characterised by promotion chases and relegation battles.
He departed Livingston after less than a year with only two wins to his name, but headed south to Wycombe in the summer of 2006 where he took the Chairboys to the semi-finals of the League Cup and had them in the thick of the League Two promotion race before ultimately resigning in 2008.
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He then replaced former Ipswich midfielder Geraint Williams at Colchester and, on the opening day of his first full season as U’s boss, presided over a stunning 7-1 victory over Norwich at Carrow Road.
That was his last game in charge of the Essex club, though, as he sensationally joined the Canaries just days later and set about sparking a revival in Norfolk as he guided his new club out of League One at the first attempt. Norwich were on a roll and Lambert kept them rocking as, now back in the second tier, they stormed through the Championship and secured back-to-back promotions thanks to the goals of Grant Holt.
He was inducted into Norwich City’s Hall of Fame in 2012 as they finished 12th on their Premier League return, before offering his resignation. That was rejected but, just three days later he was appointed manager of Aston Villa.
His two full seasons at Villa Park brought two 15th-place finishes as he struggled to inspire supporters at a time when the Midlanders often found themselves looking over their shoulder. He was fired with them in the relegation zone in February 2015, but gave young players a chance during his time with the club.
All three of his roles since have seen him take over at clubs in relegation trouble.
He was successful at both Blackburn and Wolves, as he maintained Championship status for both clubs after arriving at a time of real struggle and working with squads lacking unity.
Both finished comfortably in the lower reaches of midtable before he departed after just one year – opting out of his deal at Blackburn before making way for the big-money era at Wolves.
He was back in the Premier League with Stoke last season, taking over from Mark Hughes with the Potters in the relegation zone.
He won just two of his 15 games in charge as he failed to keep the club in the Premier League before being sacked in May.
In total he’s taken charge of 521 games as a manager, winning 200 at a win percentage of 38.4.
Style of play
His biggest successes have come north of the border (that’s Norfolk, not Scotland) and upon his arrival at Carrow Road he was seen as something of an innovator.
Deploying Wes Hoolahan at the tip of a midfield diamond set the side up to attack and probe the opposition, working around a big frontman in Grant Holt.
As Norwich moved up the leagues the playing style became more compact, as you would expect, but his sides were still set up on the front foot.
He was accused of tinkering too much and changing his approach in a bid to find results at Villa, while it was a needs-must approach at times at both Blackburn and Wolves. He got the job done at both but didn’t return for a second season, where you would have expected things to evolve.
Lambert’s seen as a practical manager who clearly understands the financial parameters in which he works and takes great care with the money he does spend. He looks for extra value where others don’t see it.
His Norwich side was built on taking players unwanted elsewhere and turning them into the best versions of themselves. He has a history of getting the best out of players he inherits, too.
Grant Holt had toured the lower leagues and ended up firing the Canaries to the top flight while Russell Martin left as a club legend last summer having followed a similar trajectory.
Hunger is what Lambert looks for in players as he searches for those looking to prove people wrong.
You would think there are plenty of players in the current Ipswich squad looking to prove people wrong.
There are no frills surrounding Lambert.
He is not a manager striving to be heard and has no urge to play to the crowd.
There are few soundbites but he says what he thinks. There will be no ‘bonkers’ catchphrases and press conferences figure to be significantly shorter than the half-hour fare Ipswich fans have come to know in recent months.
One of his big plus points has been forging positive relationships between players and fans, often to the point of downplaying his own role.
He’s animated on the touchline, too, often kicking every ball along with his team.
Lambert is expected to bring at least two members of staff with him to Portman Road, following the departure of Paul Hurst’s assistant Chris Doig and fitness coaches Nathan Winder and Chris Skitt.
His great highs came alongside Ian Culverhouse, who assisted him at both Norwich and Villa before departing Villa Park following a disciplinary process in 2014. Since then Culverhouse has managed King’s Lynn and is now out of work after leaving Grantham last week. Andy Marshall, a former Ipswich and Norwich goalkeeper, served on Lambert’s staff at Villa.
He appointed former Ipswich boss Roy Keane as his Villa assistant in 2014 – a move the Midlands media have since described as ‘road rage waiting to happen’.
Lambert was assisted by Alan Irvine at Blackburn, who was Norwich caretaker between Alex Neil’s departure and Daniel Farke’s arrival. He’s out of work after leaving West Ham after David Moyes moved on.
His Stoke assistant, Stuart Taylor, is also out of work.