Chris Lakey: If Paul Lambert has lost his edge then Town really are in the smelly stuff

PUBLISHED: 14:34 02 November 2018 | UPDATED: 14:34 02 November 2018

Paul Lambert watches an Ipswich training session Picture: ROSS HALLS

Paul Lambert watches an Ipswich training session Picture: ROSS HALLS

Archant

I remember watching Paul Lambert’s Norwich City sides and thinking, ‘they won’t lose this game’.

Paul Lambert during his Norwich days - although few will remember this particular pose..Picture: PAPaul Lambert during his Norwich days - although few will remember this particular pose..Picture: PA

Just a few games into his tenure, there was an air of invincibility about his team.

That feeling appeared to infiltrate every nook and cranny – into the stands, into the dressing room: everyone had the feeling that something big was happening and nothing anyone else did would prevent it.

And, of course, it did: a spectacular reversal of fortune which took Norwich City into the top flight. It was fantastic.

Now, this is going to be extremely difficult for many of you, but imagine if you can for a moment, being an Ipswich Town supporter.

Just months after the ecstasy of finishing above Norwich on goal difference in the Championship and thus securing that crown of East Anglia’s finest for the first time since the year dot, you must be feeling sick.

Norwich are flying, Ipswich are dire. City are fourth in the table, Ipswich are bottom.

And they have had to turn to a former manager of their most bitter rivals to help get them out of the poo. The shame of it.

Lambert doesn’t see it that way.

Yes, it’s only a job to him. And yes, he has every right to regard Norwich City as just part of his CV. But if he thinks that way about Norwich, what does he think about Ipswich? Presumably he has a button he can switch on and off when it comes to loyalty.

Bitter taste time? Well, not really, because I can’t forget his time here and think good things. Mostly. It wasn’t all beer and skittles. I don’t recall him treating the media as Daniel Farke does, for example. In fact, I don’t recall one single word of warmth from him, certainly not towards yours truly. Let’s just assume that was Lambert doing his job.

Remember that great night against Derby County when City came back to win 3-2 at the very end? Great night which no one will forget. Especially if you were on the receiving end of Lambert’s sharp tongue. In the post-match press conference I asked him if he would actually have been disappointed had that fightback not ended like it did, with three points? He jumped own my throat, in front of the whole press room. And very unfairly. A legitimate question met by disdain, contempt and rudeness.

I remember a press conference when we were waiting in the media room at Carrow Road for him to appear and could hear shouting from the corridor, where Lambert was giving it both barrels to a journalist for something he had done that the manager didn’t like.

Going off at a tangent, I once discovered that a very pious manager knew a forbidden word or three when he called me into his office and gave me a verbal lashing - for something I hadn’t even written and he hadn’t actually read.

Believe me, it is hard in these instances to fight back. Do that, and you are in grave danger of not being invited back, which jeopardises your job. It’s too risky: you have to bite the bullet and it is excruciatingly frustrating.

Why do I mention these couple of run-ins with Lambert? Because he ‘wooed’, for want of a better word, some of the media at his first Ipswich press conference in the week. He pressed all the right buttons, said all the right things, didn’t get hot under the collar at anyone.

And you know what? I think they will wish he had. Because that fire, that determination and that single-minded tunnel vision that excuses anything but him and his players, needs to be there.

“He’s mellow,” was my first reaction to a piece by a colleague in Ipswich which suggested Lambert had given a five-star performance.

If he has mellowed, has the cutting edge gone? Did Lambert need that rough tough side to keep everyone at the top of their game? And without it, is he shorn of strength?

Combine that with Town’s precarious position, absence of confidence, lack of winning mentality, inability (it seems) to turn that around and an owner who doesn’t appear too keen on opening his cheque book, and it could mean a disaster for Ipswich. And Lambert. And neither can afford that to happen.

Words fail me

I saw some completely unnecessary social media abuse aimed at Matt Gill after it was announced he was leaving Norwich City to join Paul Lambert at Ipswich.

Whoever was responsible is scum. Whoever was responsible for a similarly vile post on the Pink Un message board relating to the helicopter crash at Leicester on Saturday, you are also scum.

There are numerous other instances most notably the abuse of Chelsea women’s player Karen Carney and the racist abuse aimed at Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha. Anyone responsible is scum. It isn’t a word I use lightly. I cringe when I see it, but in these instances, I can think of nothing better – certainly nothing printable. The Pink Un posting was dealt with as soon as we could, and while you would expect normal-minded people to behave themselves and act in a decent manner, there is no accounting for idiots.

Free speech is one thing; free abuse is something entirely different.

No go, Usain

Seems like Usain Bolt has had a setback in his bid to become a professional footballer.

He was offered a contract by Australian A-League side Central Coast Mariners, but turned it down. Seems he was offered $150,000 and he wanted $3m.

Either they are absolute meanies, or Bolt has been living in a world of his own for a while.

I’ve seen him playing, on TV, and he isn’t really up to pro standard. The Mariners clearly think the same way.

Commercially, they were on to a winner: but if that was dependant on him playing then they were on to a loser.

High-profile stories like this do little to help clubs in the long run: it is not about the football, and that just ends up cheesing everyone off, from the coaches to the players to the fans and, one day, to the sponsors, once they have rung their last dollar’s worth out of it.

Bolt was a supreme track athlete and I would rather remember him for that than for tripping over the ball when in sight of goal.

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