Lambert tells Hoolahan he will have to get used to the attention
Wes Hoolahan has been warned to expect close man-marking wherever he goes - and it's all his fault. Hoolahan was followed everywhere by Millwall's Jimmy Abdou last week, and while the close attentions may not be to everyone's liking, it played a big part in the Londoners' victory, with the City man unable to exert his usual influence on the game.
Wes Hoolahan has been warned to expect close man-marking wherever he goes - and it's all his fault.
Hoolahan was followed everywhere by Millwall's Jimmy Abdou last week, and while the close attentions may not be to everyone's liking, it played a big part in the Londoners' victory, with the City man unable to exert his usual influence on the game.
“It's easy to be destructive than it is constructive, it always is,” said City boss Paul Lambert. “But he has created that environment himself by the way he's been playing.
“He's been nothing short of being brilliant, and people are worrying about him, and quite rightly so, because of the way he plays the game. And, yes, whatever level Wes goes to play or we go to play he has got to be prepared for that all the time because of the way he plays the game.
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“You can look at all of the best number 10s, if you want to call them that, in Europe and there are not many get the freedom to go and do what they want. If you allow people like that a bit of space you could end up in trouble and Wes has certainly done that a few times this year.”
Substitute Anthony McNamee put in some teasing crosses from the left wing and would be the only genuine alternative, along with a change of formation, to Hoolahan.
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But Lambert says he isn't tempted to use the defeat as an excuse to make change.
“One defeat in four months - I can't think of major, major reconstruction after one defeat,” he said. “I know the team I will play. Anthony has been great - he's come on and been really impressive. Some of his crosses against Millwall were terrific and if we had Grant (Holt) in there one might have fallen for us.
“He's done great - but so have the rest of the lads, that's the thing.”
Lambert has no real panic buttons to press, but knows that Holt's return from suspension is a big plus.
“You look back and you think certain things you could have done better,” he said. “We had a chat with the lads on what I thought they could have done better. There wasn't much in the game - I think Fraser (Forster) had one save, maybe their goalkeeper had one, from Russell Martin. Other than that there weren't many chances and on the day Millwall probably deserved to win the game, but one defeat in four months has been incredible.
“Grant is back, which is a major thing for us as well. I think a lot of people thought we would probably drop more than we did drop without him being there, but we never did and him coming back is a major plus.
“No disrespect to Cody (McDonald) or Oli (Johnson) - he is the captain of the football club and he is a massive player for us. I said at the time taking 23 goals out of your team is a big chunk, but we have handled it really, really well and he comes back in and hopefully kicks on.”
Holt's presence will strengthen the squad's mental resolve, and that could be vital over the next 16 games.
“If you were going to lose a game, Saturday was perhaps the best one to lose because not many won behind us,” said Lambert. “There were a lot of draws and even though you are really disappointed to get beaten the softener was there weren't many around about who won.
“We have come a long way from the time we came here, there have been so many things gone on and we have tried to get the winning mentality back. To win any league you have got to be mentally strong, because you have got to be good enough to see it through and you have to be mentally strong to get over disappointments. That's why I don't really change much if we get beat.
“Was there any real reason to be majorly hard on them? Not really. I know exactly what they're like and I know exactly what people think and they've been great.”