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‘After a few weeks, your background as a player doesn’t inspire them’ - Ex-defender on ‘leader’ Lambert’s management style

PUBLISHED: 16:58 27 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:58 27 March 2020

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert has been called a 'leader' by former player Jens Berthel Askou. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert has been called a 'leader' by former player Jens Berthel Askou. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Stephen Waller

One of Paul Lambert’s former players has offered a fascinating insight into his management style – and suggested that the Ipswich boss perhaps hasn’t adapted his approach to move with the times.

Former Norwich defender Jens Berthel Askou, who played under Lambert for the Canaries during their rise from League One to the Premier League, said the fiery Scot had an instant impact on the dressing room when he took over an ailing club from Bryan Gunn back in 2009.

In an interview with our sister paper the Eastern Daily Press, Askou – now managing in the Faroe Islands – recalled: “He didn’t have a lot of long, inspirational speeches. He was more short and sharp. You could sense an aura, he didn’t talk b******, he just gave it to you straight.

“Pretty much everyone had a British background and then there was me and this Serbian striker (Goran Maric), he left the club quite fast. My mentality wasn’t far from British and it worked really well with him being really tough and really direct.

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Askou is currently managing in the Faroe Islands. Picture: Rene Schutze/Ritzau ScanpixAskou is currently managing in the Faroe Islands. Picture: Rene Schutze/Ritzau Scanpix

“He was a real leader. A winner. I didn’t learn a lot of football in the two years I was there. Tactically, we didn’t do a lot of work on how to build up against certain systems. We played the same and focused on mentality and performance.

“Ian (Culverhouse) was always in charge of the coaching. Almost all of it. The gaffer came in if he wasn’t happy with the performances.

“The training was good. Ian was a great coach, he was fun, he was energetic, well-prepared and a nice guy. You could see he cared about the players and put an effort in.”

But, asked about his thoughts on Lambert ending up at Portman Road, Askou wondered if his former boss has adapted his fiery style to fit today’s footballing landscape.

He explained: “I don’t know if I’m surprised. I stumbled when I saw the news he’d signed for Ipswich. I think his legend status at Norwich has probably got a few little cracks in it.

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“I think today, you need to be able to do so much more than being ruthless. To be at the top, the very top, you need to be tactically clever, curious and be very detailed in everything you do.

“You need to be an inspiration to all your players. When you come from a background as a top player, you can live on that for two or three weeks. But after a few weeks, your background as a player doesn’t inspire them anymore.

“What you do everyday in training or everyday, how you manage them, that’s what they look for. Then they don’t care who you played for or what level you played 10 years ago.

“A lot of players I coach ask me, ‘did you play?’ and it’s been four years since I retired!”


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