Lambert is right man for the job

FORMER Colchester United defender Sam Stockley is convinced that new boss Paul Lambert is the right man to guide the U's back into the Championship.Stockley was a regular in the Wycombe Wanderers team during Lambert's two seasons at Adams Park, and the 31-year-old has nothing but admiration for his former manager.

Carl Marston

FORMER Colchester United defender Sam Stockley is convinced that new boss Paul Lambert is the right man to guide the U's back into the Championship.

Stockley was a regular in the Wycombe Wanderers team during Lambert's two seasons at Adams Park, and the 31-year-old has nothing but admiration for his former manager.

Lambert took charge of his first training session yesterday, after officially taking over as the new Colchester boss following the disappointing 4-3 defeat at Cheltenham Town over the weekend. His first game is at Stockport County on Saturday.

Full-back Stockley, who made 172 senior appearances during four years at Colchester, is in no doubt that the Essex club have recruited an excellent manager in Lambert.

Speaking to the EADT last night, Stockley enthused: “Paul (Lambert) is undoubtedly one of the best managers that I have ever played under.

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“His man management skills are about as good as I've known, and his coaching sessions are always enjoyable.

“It was he who signed me when he came down to Wycombe from Livingston.

“He didn't know much about me, but he assembled a really good squad and I had two great years with him at Wycombe.

“During the second season, he took more of a back seat. He left it to coach Ian Culverhouse (the U's new assistant manager) to take most of the sessions, but he oversaw everything,” added Stockley.

Former Southampton trainee Stockley played more than 200 games for Barnet, and a further 44 games for Oxford United, before moving to Layer Road in 2002.

He played most of his football for the U's under managers Steve Whitton and Phil Parkinson.

He fell out of favour during the second half of the U's promotion-winning season of 2005-06, and had a spell on loan at Blackpool before Lambert signed him on taking over at Wycombe.

And after Lambert resigned as Wycombe boss over the summer, following the League Two play-off semi-final defeat to Stockport County, Stockley also moved on.

He is now the club captain and regular right-back at Port Vale.

Stockley continued: “I always found it a pleasure to play football under Paul Lambert. Too often in League Two it is all about lumping the ball forward. But there was never any pressure to do that at Wycombe.

“We played some good football, and the gaffer always knew that the players only had a split second to make decisions on the pitch. He had faith in us, which is important. He trusted us.

“I found him the most approachable manager that I have ever played under. He always tells it how it is.

“We reached the semi-finals of the League Cup (losing to Chelsea) in my first season at Wycombe, and I reckon that run really cost us a chance of winning promotion.

“Likewise, we were unlucky to lose out in the play-offs last season, although I thought Stockport were the best team throughout the season.

“Colchester United is always deep in my heart. I had some great times there, and many of my favourite memories are from those days at Layer Road.

“It's a wickedly good club, and I think that Paul Lambert is the right man to not only get them climbing the table, but also get them back in the Championship. I honestly believe that.

“It was always going to be difficult for the club on moving to a new stadium. We always had such a hell of an advantage playing our home games at Layer Road, but now they have to get used to playing at a proper stadium.

“Geraint Williams did a fantastic job at Colchester, he really did.

“But the club now has one of the best managers that they could have got. The players will enjoy the training, because the sessions are usually short and sharp, and always football related.

“Ian Culverhouse will also play a massive part. He and Paul always worked as a team at Wycombe,” added Stockley.

Ex-Tottenham and Norwich City defender Culverhouse was at Wycombe for three years, initially as a youth team coach. He became first team coach during the summer of 2007, and stayed on when Lambert resigned this summer.

Stockley is now enjoying life at Port Vale. He added: “We've had an indifferent start, but we have a very young team. I'm still the club captain, although I'm not the team captain at the moment.”

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