|Ipswich Town 0 v 0 Gillingham|
SkyBet League One
Thursday, 26th December 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Lambert: If They Want to Go and Employ Another Manager, No Problem
Thursday, 26th Dec 2019 19:09
Boss Paul Lambert appeared to call his Blues future into question following his side’s 0-0 home draw with Gillingham.
Lambert’s press conference after the game started relatively uneventfully with the manager expressing his pride in his players for not hiding during a frustrating afternoon.
“I’m really proud of them because they kept on playing the ball, that’s what I’m of, I’m really proud of them,” he said.
“Difficult conditions, the crowd was edgy, one bad pass and it gets edgy. I’m really proud of them.
“I said to them at half-time, it doesn’t matter what you do as a footballer, keep taking that ball. I don’t care, take the ball in a phone box when there’s five guys around you, you keep taking it. Keep taking the ball because that shows bravery in itself.
“And I’m proud of them that they did that. A lot of young guys out there and it’s not easy when you’re a big club and you’re expected to win every time. You need people to take the ball.
“In the second half I thought we did that, towards the end of the first half, 15 or 20 minutes at the end of the first half we took the ball and that’s something I’m really proud of.”
Asked why he felt his team had started the game so slowly, he said: “It can happen, it can happen. You don’t have a divine right, you see the table, we’re sitting second. It’s incredible, sitting second and the support’s fabulous, 22,000 here, absolutely unbelievable.
“As I said before when I first came in there was 12 or 13,000, now we’ve 7,000 more which is incredible, season tickets are flying through the roof.
“There are a lot of good things happening, everybody wants us to win, but there are a helluva lot of good things here, that’s for sure.
“But because of the size of the club and the name of the club, if it was that easy Sunderland would have got out of it, Sheffield United would have got out of it in less than six years.
“It’s a difficult league, but we’re sitting second, so we’re in a good place. We just need to finish it off.
“But what I’m really proud of, as I said before, is everybody taking that ball and nobody hiding. That for me is the mark of a footballer.
“When you do that and there are people round about you and there’s an expectancy level, incredible. I know that because I played with huge, huge clubs.”
Although Town didn’t register a shot on target they had one or two decent chances and Lambert says the players might have made different choices.
“We had good opportunities, we had great chances to pull the trigger, especially Kayden and Judgey, they had great chances to pull the trigger,” he said.
“But the lads made decisions that only they can see. They have to make the decisions, that’s decision-making, that’s all that is.
“I think if you said to Kayden to go and do it again he’d probably shoot, if you said to Judgey he’d probably go and shoot but the guys are trying not to be selfish, which is good. They see their team-mate in a better position maybe to score and they try to make the right move.”
Was there some nervousness in those situations given the current run of form with the Blues without League One in six?
“As I said before, we’re sitting second, that’s the thing I can’t quite get my head round,” Lambert responded.
“It’s how you want to view it, we sit second, we’re in a really good place, there’s a helluva lot of football to be played here.
“The lads will come back strongly. This stops that run of two defeats in a row. Clean sheet, really incredible conditions as well.
“But regarding the bravery with the ball, I’m delighted with that. Not happy with the draw but it’s a start, it stops that mini [run of two league] defeats. Really happy that we never hid from the ball.”
After it was pointed out that Town have now taken only 10 points from their last 10 matches, which is hardly the form required to win promotion, Lambert seemed, out of nothing, to call his Blues’ future into question.
“If they want to go and employ another manager, no problem,” he said, surprising reporters. “I’ll go, it’s not a problem for me to go. I’ll leave tomorrow or I’ll leave the next day, it’s not a problem.
“Ipswich Town is the most important thing, not me. So if I go tomorrow or next week or whatever happens, the club is in a really good place. It’s sitting second in the table and we’re not even halfway through.
“What the lads [have done since] the start of the season has been incredible. From being relegated and the club being like an absolute morgue with 12,000 people in it, to where it is now.
“If I left tomorrow, I don’t know when I’ll leave, Ipswich Town is the most important thing. So if they bring in someone else that’s not a problem.”
It was pointed out that him saying that would raise a lot of questions, he added: “No it doesn’t, it doesn’t raise questions. I’m a realist in football. I’m not going to sit and tell you lies, I’m not going to sit and tell you anything else. I’m a realist, I’m not a fantasist. I’m a realist because I’ve won things.”
Asked whether he was saying he believes he is in danger of the sack, he said: “Maybe. Maybe, you don’t know. It’s not something I’ll lose sleep over, put it that way.”
Why wouldn’t he lose sleep over it, surely his pride would be dented? “That happened long ago, that. Football management you just get on with it. I don’t lose any sleep whatsoever. If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
Has owner Marcus Evans has given any indication that that might happen? “Marcus has been brilliant, Marcus is a brilliant owner, nothing like that. But I know how football works, I’m not silly.”
Is he speaking in a wider context rather than specifically about his current situation, knowing that managers on bad runs lose their jobs?
“Ay, absolutely no worries,” he added. “I could get my jacket today and leave. Who is going to stop me?”
Asked what that would achieve, he responded: “Ipswich trying to win the league.”
Is he getting exasperated with the atmosphere around the club? “No, the club has come a long way in the year we’ve been here. It’s come a helluva long way. There was so much wrong with it. There was so much wrong, you only see the surface of it.”
Questioned on whether he was contradicting himself to some degree, saying that and but also that he could get his coat and go tomorrow, he said: “Yes, if Marcus wants me out, that’s no problem. That’s what I’m saying, I don’t have a problem. If Marcus says to go or [general manager of football operations] Lee [O'Neill] says go.”
Asked why he is even talking along those lines, he said: “Because it might happen. Nobody knows. Nobody knows, do they?”
But is he anticipating that? “I always think you’re one game away from the sack. I always think that.”
That’s just his fatalistic view? “Because I’ve been in the game since I started football when I was 15.”
But nothing in the conversations that he has had with Marcus or with Lee have suggested that that’s on the cards? “No, those two guys have been really good. They’ve been really, really good.”
And he’s not thinking of picking up his coat of his own volition? “I don’t know. I’ll wait and see.”
Asked whether he is considering his position, he said otherwise: “No, no, no.”
Lambert previously left Blackburn out of the blue, but he says he’s fine: “No, I feel good.”
When it was pointed out that it was odd to say what he’s said when he’s done a lot to turn the club around, put thousands on the gate and are second, although without a win in the league for a while. All that and yet he’s talking as if you may not be here.
“Nobody knows,” he added. “I’m not important to the club. The football club is the most important factor. A manager only helps to a certain point and they drive it. It’s not a big issue, it’s not an issue.”
After it was pointed out that it would be an issue with supporters, he responded: “This is what I’m saying to you, the support is brilliant, absolutely brilliant. And they’ve been brilliant to me since I’ve been here, so I don’t have any qualms about that.
“I’m not the most important factor. If I’m not the guy to take Ipswich up, somebody else comes in - brilliant, absolutely brilliant.”
He must believe he’s the man to take the Blues up? “I’ve got my own thoughts on things. I’ve got my own thoughts on things, I’ve got my own ideas on things. Some things I agree with, some things I don’t agree with.”
When he says some things he agrees with and some he doesn't, is he referring to the way the club is run?
“No, what I say about Marcus is that he’s been great since I’ve been at the club,” he added.
“We have a good laugh, contrary to what everybody thinks. We have some good laughs but we also have some serious moments. He’s been really fair with me, really good with me on a lot of things.”
And he hasn’t mentioned him leaving the club, hasn’t said he's two games away, needs to win next two or anything like that?
“I think he gave me one and a half games," Lambert joked. "No, he’s never said anything like that. He’s been as good as gold that way.”
When Evans’s record of sticking by managers and giving them time was cited, Lambert said: “He didn’t with Paul Hurst, did he? Big Mick did a fabulous job here, fabulous job.”
Before that Paul Jewell and Roy Keane were given time - “Paul did great” - and Ipswich is a club where managers are allowed time.
“Don’t say secure because there’s no such word as secure in football,” Lambert interjected.
But is it not unsettling for fans and players if he is calling his position into doubt? “The fans and the players will always go on, that’s always the case. They’ll always go on.
“They’re the most important factor at the football club, it’s not me, it’s the players and the supporters, and I always say that, and I always will say that. That’s the most important thing. My time as a player has gone, I don’t know, 2005.”
Asked whether he would you like to stay to the end of the season if he can to see what happens, he said: “I’d love to see the club go up in any factor, whether I’m here or not. I’d love to see the club in the Premier League, it’s that good with the support it’s got behind it.
“And hopefully one day that will happen, because it’s a brilliant club, it really is, it’s a great club and I hate seeing the way it is in the division it’s in, but it is. It’s a brilliant football club to be at, definitely.”
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