‘Sometimes the table does lie... I honestly believe we’re going to be fine’ – Lambert on Town’s 2-1 home defeat to West Brom
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert is confident his team will beat the drop following last night’s 2-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion at Portman Road.
Goals from Jay Rodriguez (26) and Harvey Barnes (77) put the impressive Baggies in control, but it was a gutsy second half display from Town and Kayden Jackson’s late goal (85) set-up a grandstand finish in which teenager Jack Lankester hit the post.
The Blues remain five points adrift at the foot of the Championship table and that gap could widen to eight prior to Wednesday night’s visit of Bristol City.
“West Brom are a top, top side that have just been relegated and not lost many players,” said Lambert. “I’ll stick up for every one of my guys. They’ve been brilliant for me every day in training. Every game I’ve been involved in they’ve given me everything. Honestly, I’m delighted with how they are playing.
“This football club was really low when we first came in. We had to lift everybody – not just the actual team.
“I remember getting asked at the (Supporters’ Club) AGM ‘how do you lift a team full of League One and League Two players?’ Well I think everybody’s perception is a little bit different now.
“We went toe-to-toe with West Brom. I think second half we were outstanding. You always judge it by the crowd’s reaction and I didn’t see many leaving. They got right behind us.”
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Having issued a rallying cry to the fans earlier this week, Lambert was delighted with the backing his team got from a crowd of 22,995.
“I want to put on a record a big thanks from myself to the supporters because they were brilliant right from the off,” said Lambert. “The atmosphere was outstanding. That’s the way it should be. That’s football.
“Hopefully we can start attracting the next generation of supporters. The support tonight, my God it was brilliant, so a big thanks from me to them.
“I’m proud of the players too. We’ve got a really young side and academy kids coming off the bench whereas they’ve got a guy coming off the bench who has actually won the Premier League (Gareth Barry). They are a hell of a side.”
He added: “Sometimes the table does lie. It didn’t really annoy me (that people were writing Ipswich off). Did anyone think I could go and win the Champions League with Borussia Dortmund? Probably not. I’ve proved a few people wrong. And I intend to prove a few people wrong here.
“We need a little bit of help in January, but if we keep doing what we’re doing I honestly believe we’re going to be fine.”
Reflecting further on the game, he said: “I think they were a little bit tentative first half, we still knocked the ball about pretty well without being aggressive with it. We got to half-time, regrouped a little bit and had some words with them and they played the way they did and the way we have been playing. We gave a really good account of ourselves.
“The players are the ones that take the credit. They were great. The crowd as well, they drive you on.”
With academy graduate Lankester clipping the outside of the post with a fine free-kick effort in stoppage-time, Lambert said: “Eighteen years old and having the bottle to step up and take that in front of a big crowd – fantastic. Another yard inside and it would have been a goal and I don’t think anybody would have begrudged us that if that had happened. But that’s football. I’m really happy with the team.”
On the return of Teddy Bishop, who stepped off the bench to make his first league appearance since Boxing Day 2017, Lambert said: “He is (a talented footballer). I’ve spoken to him and he’s got to stay fit. He’s got to train every day and not break down. Sometimes it’s out of your hands, it’s your own body, how your body copes with the training and the stress of it.
“But if you want to play top level football you have to train the way you play. I’ve never been involved in any team where you don’t train the way you play. Low key doesn’t work. Your body breaks down.
“But to be fair to the kid, he’s trained virtually every day since I’ve been here and he’s got a talent, as I’ve said before. He goes by people and he makes things happen.
“This club has got a really good structure here with the young players. There are a lot of good young players here and if you can keep nurturing them and they grasp it then the club’s in good hands.”