‘The next few weeks are massive’ – Lambert on fresh start, pre-season and Town’s opening fixtures
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town fly to Germany on Thursday for an 11-day training camp. Manager Paul Lambert has been outlining the importance of pre-season, moving on from relegation and his League One expectations.
"You have to," said Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert, when asked if this summer represented a good chance to draw a line under last year's tortuous relegation campaign.
"I think that's important. You can't change the past.
"We've had chance to regroup, we're a really young side and have some really good players who I think will do really, really well.
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"I'm looking forward to it. It's a difficult league. We know what's coming and what to expect with the amount of games. It's a challenge, but it's a good one.
"We finished last season on a high with the Leeds game. The three games prior to that was just an overhang of relegation, but prior to those three we'd played so well and dominated a lot of games without getting our rewards.
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"We had some great chances to put games to bed, but that never materialised. There's no blame attached to anybody there. That's football.
"Anxiety creeps in. Young guys maybe don't know how to handle the occasion and certain situations.
"It was what it was. We move on. We'll now give everything we can to get out of this league.
"The break seems to get shorter and shorter every year and that's great because the boredom kicks in after a few weeks and you're itching to get back.
"We're looking forward to going away to Germany. We'll be prepared when the season comes around."
IMPORTANCE OF PRE-SEASON
Town's players reported back for pre-season at the start of last week. The squad flies to Germany on Thursday for an 11-day training camp at a remote location near the Dutch border.
The first friendly fixture is against newly-promoted Bundesliga side SC Paderborn 07 on Saturday. Next Sunday the Blues face Fortuna Dusseldorf, then either FC Utrecht or SV Meppen, in the four-team Interwetten Cup.
Upon their return to England, Town have further warm-up games against Colchester, Notts County and Cambridge United (all away).
"The next few weeks are massive," said Lambert, who never had a pre-season in charge at previous clubs Stoke, Wolves and Blackburn.
"It's important to try and get in the lads we want before we go away - I think that's important.
"Germany will be tough, there's no getting away from that. We'll play two Bundesliga sides, so it's good opposition. Really hard games.
"The place we're going has no real distractions. We're there to work and work hard.
"The time out there will be huge for us. The players will be living in each other's pockets. You have to respect each other."
He added: "Pre-season is what it is. It's not changed over the years. It prepares you for the whole season.
"Everybody has to buy into what you're trying to do. If they don't then it's no good for the individual or for the team. Everybody has to buy into it.
"The lads have come back in really good shape, I'm really happy about that, and I'm looking forward to working with them."
Town start life in League One with a trip to Burton Albion on August 3. They host title favourites Sunderland the following weekend, travel to newly-promoted Championship side Luton in the first round of the Carabao Cup three days' later and then head to Peterborough, a club who have made ambitious moves in the transfer window.
There will be at least seven games in August, eight if progress is made in the cup.
"Listen, every game is hard," said Lambert, when asked about his side's opening fixtures.
"It doesn't matter who you are playing in any league. Whoever we played in the first game was always going to be hard.
"I'm looking forward to get going. Let's just see what happens. As I say, we'll be ready for it."
Ipswich have been made the second favourites for the title behind Sunderland. This is a level of football the club has not played at since 1957.
Asked if anything less than promotion would constitute failure, Lambert replied: "We'll try for that. But I'm not going to put any expectation levels on the players. They are young players, they are still learning the game and still need time to develop over the next six to 12 months.
"We need everybody - staff, players, supporters - all together. We had that last season. If we have it again, start to turn some draws into wins and get some momentum then let's see what happens.
"We're a good side, I've got no doubt about that. An everybody is behind us, which is a great thing to take into the season."
Lambert, who guided Norwich City from League One to a mid-table Premier League finish in successive seasons, added: "All I can say is we'll try everything we can to get out the league.
"Then if we are lucky enough to get in the Championship then we need to try and get out of the Championship. That's what you want, but the momentum has to be with you."