Stuart Watson’s Sunday Verdict: Lambert’s making us overlook the glaring plot holes and believe in the Christmas miracle
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Ipswich Town are now eight points adrift of safety at the foot of the Championship table following yesterday’s 2-0 defeat at Stoke City. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
And so, the suspension of disbelief continues.
We keep the faith, despite so much contradicting logic, because we want to.
Paul Lambert constantly injecting a semblance of truth into a fantastic tale ensures that we can keep buying into the implausibility of the ‘Great Escape’ narrative.
His relentless positivity and utter conviction that ‘it will turn’ is the equivalent of putting down a plate of mince pies and carrots on Christmas Eve. It keeps the magic alive.
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‘Play like that against lesser sides and will we win’, we tell ourselves, conveniently overlooking the fact there have been draws against Preston and Reading since Lambert arrived.
We overlook the glaring plot holes because the story is so engaging. Not so long ago Town fans were switching channel. Not anymore.
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The number of fans in attendance and their reaction from the stands is always the truest barometer. The fact more than 1,000 made the long trip to Staffordshire and sang their hearts out throughout said it all.
Homegrown kids are developing, the team is trying to play on the front foot and the green shoots of recovery are there to see.
Deep down, we know that Lambert’s reflections on his time at Stoke – ‘the lads gave me everything’, ‘we just fell short’, ‘it’s a club I thought would never go down’ – could well be repeated come May. Too much damage has been done.
Then again, it might not.
Somehow after every hammer blow – losing at home to Bristol City after twice leading, Bartosz Bialkowski continuing to make costly errors, Cole Skuse getting injured in training – the Scot picks you up again.
Saying his young, inexperienced side ‘dominated’ the game at the bet365 Stadium yesterday is certainly overstating things. They did, however, go toe-to-toe with a team they really had no right to.
Strangely, this defeat has the potential to be looked back upon as a real turning point.
The Blues boss was seen in a lengthy, hushed tones conversation with the Potter’s director of football after the final whistle.
This spirited performance may have just persuaded a watching Stoke fringe player or two to be reunited with their former boss at Portman Road in January. Or any player for that matter. It’s understood the foreign market is being looked at too.
‘We are so, so close to being a right top side’, said Lambert, with a twinkle in the eye akin to the kindly bearded shopkeeper who turns out to be Old Saint Nic himself at the end of a festive flick.
A Christmas miracle is certainly needed. The power of collective belief might just make it happen.