Lambert plotting U's revival

PAUL Lambert was a winner as a player - he has a sack full of medals from his days as a combative midfielder in Scotland and Germany.

Carl Marston

PAUL Lambert was a winner as a player - he has a sack full of medals from his days as a combative midfielder in Scotland and Germany.

Now the 39-year-old wants to translate that success into his managerial career, by starting to propel Colchester United up the League One table.

Lambert guided Wycombe Wanderers to the League Two play-offs last season, so he has the experience to mount a promotion challenge. He certainly impressed U's chairman Robbie Cowling, and the rest of the club's directors, during his interview this week.

“I had a terrific time at Wycombe. I loved it, but there is always a time to move on,” explained Lambert, who resigned over the summer following Wanderers' play-off defeat to Stockport County.

“I know all about Colchester and their dramatic rise up the league, at a great rate of knots. The last manager (Geraint Williams) did terrifically well, but now it's a new start.

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“There's a great group of players here. I've had them watched in the last three games, although I didn't go to the matches myself, because I didn't want to put any pressure on anyone.

“They have done well under Kit Symons (caretaker manager), but the home record has been a little bit of a problem,” confirmed Lambert.

The U's have still to win a game at the new Weston Homes Community Stadium, since their summer move from Layer Road. They have drawn two and lost the other three of their home league games.

Lambert will not take over from caretaker boss Symons until after tomorrow's game at Cheltenham Town. His first match in charge will be at Stockport the following Saturday, and his first home game will be the following Tuesday, October 21, against Millwall.

“The new stadium wasn't the only reason why I wanted to come here, but I've only been here a couple of hours and already I can see that the place is buzzing. The people here have got as much enthusiasm as the day is long,” continued Lambert.

“I've been watching so many games since I left Wycombe. I've spent a few days at Aston Villa and also at West Brom, and I've been taking in a lot of League One games.

“Now I'm going to enjoy having a go at Colchester. We've only had a handful of games, and there's miles still to go this season.

“There's still plenty of time for clubs to have a real run at it, and for others to have a dip in form. And of course the fans are the most important people at any club. Hopefully, we can bounce off each other,” added Lambert.

Scotsman Lambert won his first Scottish Cup winner's medal, with his first club St Mirren, at the tender age of 17 in 1987.

But the midfielder's career really took off following his switch to Germany, from Motherwell to Borussia Dortmund in 1996. He quickly settled on the continent, and his crowning moment came in the UEFA Champions League Final, when he overshadowed French star Zinedine Zidane in the midfield battle to help secure a 3-1 win over Juventus.

A glamorous £2m move to Celtic followed. The medals then started to flow, with four Scottish Premier League titles, in addition to a couple of Scottish Cups and two CIS Insurance Cups.

Furthermore, Lambert also played in the 1998 World Cup, and skippered Celtic in the 2003 UEFA Cup Final against Seville.

U's fans, though, will be most interested with how he has fared on the managerial merry-go-round in England. And his two years at Wycombe were fairly impressive.

In his first season, the Chairboys reached the semi-finals of the Carling Cup, where they held then-Premiership champions Chelsea to a 1-1 draw at Adams Park before losing the away leg (4-0).

And last season, he guided the Buckinghamshire club into the League Two play-offs. They were beaten 2-1 on aggregate by Stockport, who went on to win promotion.

So that will give added spice to his first game in charge as U's boss, at Stockport's Edgeley Park next Saturday!