‘Don’t get too comfortable’ - Lambert’s message as Town players embrace playing in empty stadiums

Paul Lambert has warned his players not to get too comfortable playing in front of empty stands. Pic

Paul Lambert has warned his players not to get too comfortable playing in front of empty stands. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Archant

Paul Lambert doesn’t want his players to get too comfortable performing in empty stadiums, despite Ipswich Town’s perfect start to the League One campaign.

The Blues have won each of their three matches 2-0, the most recent coming against Rochdale on Saturday, and are now top of the table alongside fellow 100% sides Lincoln and Hull.

Those games, of course, have been played in empty stadiums due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with the Ipswich players adapting well to their new surroundings.

Lambert and his coaching staff have previously spoken about some members of his squad struggling to cope with the expectation that comes from playing in front of big Portman Road crowds, but the Town boss doesn’t want his players to get too used to the current situation.

“It could help some of the players but you don’t want that, you don’t want to see a player want to play in front of no crowd or want to play in front of 2,000 people,” he said.

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“I don’t want that as a manager. I want my players to want to play in front of 50,000, 60,000, or 20,000 at Portman Road.

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“That’s the game, the game is not playing in front of nobody, that’s not normal. To be a footballer and have that mindset of wanting to have that pressure of playing in front of people, of wanting the pressure where if you make a mistake people criticise, wanting the pressure of doing something great and people saying ‘well done’. That’s football. Football’s not playing in front of nobody, it’s not professional sport.

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“And when the fans come back, enjoy it, express yourself. Play in front of the people, play in front of everybody, get the enjoyment, take the criticism when it comes, take the bad moments when they come, take the good moments when they come. That’s professional sport and professional football, we need the supporters back when it’s safe.”

With voices from the stands absent for the foreseeable future, self-motivation is vital as the Blues look to continue their winning run.

“That’s it, I think self-motivation is huge, you have to motivate yourself to play in front of the lack of crowd,” Lambert said.

“That is vital. As I said before, I think we’ve handled it really well.

“The coaching staff have a role to play, too. That comes in the dressing room, before the game, at half-time, when the game starts, you’re always like that, you’re always animated.

“It’s just strange, everything’s strange. You can hear your own voice carrying as well, that’s the other thing. But for the guys, that has to come from themselves.”

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