The Verdict: Beware false dawns... the battle was won but Lambert's men must now win the war
PUBLISHED: 13:00 16 December 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Following Ipswich Town's 1-0 victory over Wigan Athletic, ANDY WARREN gives his Sunday verdict.
That’s the first battle won, but now Paul Lambert’s Ipswich Town have to set about winning the war.
Relief was the buzzword once again following the Blues’ victory over Wigan on Saturday, ending a run of 250 days and 12 games without a win on home soil.
That was the feeling after the Blues broke their duck under Paul Hurst at Swansea in October, with Luke Chambers’ long overdue fist pumps evoking a feeling of group therapy in the rain on Saturday, just as they did in South Wales more than two months ago.
It was brilliant to see.
But the reason Paul Lambert is in charge at Portman Road and the reason the Blues are still adrift at the bottom of the league is because the relief released in Swansea was never built upon. Seventy one days separated those two victories – that’s why Ipswich Town are where they are.
Ipswich fell flat on their return to Portman Road following their success at the Liberty Stadium, going down to a limp 2-0 loss to QPR which set the wheels in motion for Hurst’s sacking and Lambert’s arrival.
Five days, and another defeat later, the change was made and Lambert’s rescue mission began.
The Scot has brought renewed belief and a feeling of togetherness to Portman Road, with the gap to safety cut to five points following this long overdue victory.
Ipswich have played significantly better than this and lost games under Lambert’s management – they should have beaten Preston, Reading and Bristol City.
But the reality is, the gap of five points to safety is the exact same position the Blues found themselves in when Lambert took control after the miserable loss at Millwall at the end of October.
That’s the challenge they face now.
For all the good Lambert has done in terms of creating an ‘us against the world’ mentality, the Blues are no better off statistically than when he arrived.
But do you feel Ipswich have a better chance of pulling off a miracle under his management? You bet.
That will only happen if the Blues are able to build on the foundations they have managed to lay for themselves and that must start next weekend against Sheffield United.
From what we’ve seen of Ipswich under Lambert, you have to think there is a real chance of doing that.
An Ipswich Town employee suggested to me recently that the biggest game of the Blues’ season will be the one following the long-awaited first victory and he was absolutely right.
It’s about setting a tone. Battle the Blades with heart, passion and intensity and the belief of a miracle will grow. Perhaps even in defeat.
We’ve had one false dawn already this season and, while Lambert and his players have brought a smile to so many faces this weekend, it’s up to them to ensure there isn’t another.