'They've watched us all season, so it was our turn to watch them' - Lambert on making his players face the North Stand after 1-0 defeat to Swansea
PUBLISHED: 18:20 22 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:34 23 April 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert said it was important his players looked their supporters in the eyes following today's 1-0 home defeat to Swansea City.
The rock-bottom Blues, already relegated to League One, decided to carry out their traditional end of season 'lap of appreciation' today due to the fact there could be a Leeds United promotion party at Portman Road on the final day.
Many stayed behind to voice encouragement, despite Town having won just four games in what has to go down as the worst campaign in the club's history.
“It's emotional because the support behind the football club is phenomenal,” said Lambert. “It's second to none the way the support is.
“That's why I made the lads stand in front of the North Stand. They've watched us all season, so it was our turn to watch them. I think it was important that we acknowledged everybody in the stadium.
“The atmosphere is incredible, it really is. It's overwhelming and I don't say that lightly. It's true.”
Town produced a much-improved display following their 4-0 drubbing at Preston on Good Friday, but ultimately ended up fairly comfortably beaten. Wayne Routledge scored the only goal of the game in the 57th minute, but the Welsh visitors always looked the more dangerous side.
“The Preston game was really strange,” said Lambert. “It was so unlike us. Everybody was way off their game. Today was a lot better. There wasn't too much in the game and we had one or two chances to score.
“It's been the same all season. We have some good moments and get punished at the wrong end of the pitch.”
Will Keane hit the post in the first half, while Collin Quaner was denied one-on-one at 1-0.
“I think the way we are playing is there for everybody to see,” said Lambert, when asked if a goalscorer was the missing part of the jigsaw. “We create chances.
“The lads have been playing under a lot of pressure for months. It's easier to be the hunter than be the hunted. When that goal is not there it becomes really difficult.
“That was taken away from us when we were relegated, but the lads deserve a lot of credit. They've kept going and kept going.
“We've now got to two games that could have a massive affect at the top end of the table (Sheffield United away and Leeds at home).”
Lambert made seven changes to his team. Four loan players were in his starting XI, with striker Will Keane and left-back Callum Elder making their returns from injury.
“We had one or two knocks before the game,” said Lambert. “Myles (Kenlock) had a little hamstring injury and Collin Quaner is just coming back from a little knock. Kayden (Jackson) had played the whole game Friday. I didn't want to risk Bish (Teddy Bishop) again. I just left Josh (Emmanuel) out because I think James Bree has been really solid for us.
“Two games in four days for Cole (Skuse) I think was a big, big ask. (Jon) Nolan would have played if he was fit. I wanted to give Will (Keane) a run out. It was a needs-must sort of thing.
“It was a good hour for Will (Keane) after being out – he showed some really good touches.”
Lambert had also changed his goalkeeper, Dean Gerken replacing Bartosz Bialkowski.
“Deano (Gerken) came in and did well,” said Lambert. “He'll play the next game (at Sheffield United), then Bart (Bialkowski) will come back for the Leeds game.
“The two lads have worked ever so hard. It's difficult for a goalkeeper when there's only one place in the team. It was always my intent to give them both something at the end of the season.”
Asked if he could see the club having two senior keepers in League One, the Blues boss replied: “I don't know what's happening until I speak to (owner) Marcus (Evans) and see where we are at. I'm pretty sure it will become clear in the next few weeks. Things will start to motorise and go quickly.”
Asked if there was a chance the club may look to keep Elder, a player who still has another year on his Leicester contract, Lambert said: “He's been out a while with a hernia injury. I thought he had a good game. He's Leicester's player. We'll see what happens. I think one or two lads will go back.”