Writer: Mike Field
Date:Friday December 28 2012
Paul Lambert said the reaction of the majority of fans at the end of the game against Spurs was amazing, and he really appreciates the support he is being given despite our inconsistency and where we find ourselves in the league.
Speaking to the Official Site ahead of what Lambert has admitted is a must win against Wigan this weekend, he took time out to make sure the fans knew he appreciated their chanting and support in the Spurs game.
'The crowd are with us. I heard it the other night, it was unbelievable. It's the first time in a long time that I have heard a crowd like that.'
Well to be fair he did hear it last season when we played Norwich :-)
'They stayed with us and that final 10 minutes their noise was a constant thing for us. It was truly unbelievable, but I think they see what we're trying to do. They know we've had to pick it up and try to make a go of it and lift the lads. I really appreciate it, it was incredible. When you are 4-0 down the crowd normally leave but our fans stayed and sung their songs. It was brilliant.'
Now to be fair, there were plenty who spoke with their feet as the game drew to a close, even allowing for those who do leave with a few minutes spare to make the journey home a little easier, but that was a groundswell of support from the fans who remained and yes the majority, maybe even all the fans, see what Lambert is trying to do and we all want it to work out but that doesn't mean there aren't valid concerns and criticisms to be aired.
The experience issue is huge for many, injuries certainly haven't helped - and there there is the debate of those injured being capable of stepping up to the plate, performing and helping to carry the youngsters at points - and whilst I can also go with Lambert wanting to assess the team fully before making more signings in the summer, well all hoped for example that Vlaar, Holman and El Ahmadi would slot in perfectly, but the worry was what if they don't? What if they get injured?
And that worry has come to pass when you consider we have a young central midfielder, out of position at the heart of defence. Yes he has some experience as a right back, but not centre half and whilst Herd has stepped up to the role well in some games, it's a clear weakness not of his making I add, in those two recent games where he simply hasn't got the game time in that role to be disciplined enough positionally and it has cost us.
Had we had Vlaar as the effective sweeper behind Clark/Baker our defence may have been more substantially solid. I'm not sure it would've changed back to back losses, but his experience and leadership could've resulted in more palletable final results.
The January window is key for this. Lambert now should know the squad inside out, at least as individuals and those capable of creating partnerships on the pitch, he should know the players he can rely on and we need to be offloading those who whatever reason aren't producing for us, and yes continue with the young and hungry policy BUT make sure we bring in the couple of experienced players we need to take some of the pressure off the youngsters, and give them that on pitch direction that seasoned pros have. Get that balance right, and the second half of the season should be far improved.
Cause one thing is for sure, 8 and 4 nil losses will not help the youngsters' confidence and if they are too worried about making a mistake, they won't try the tricks and have the attempts on goal that will help us get results, but also give them the confidence to grow and express themselves on the pitch.
You can make a very good argument that this was what happened against Spurs, we wanted to not make a mistake, more than we wanted to try and make something happen.
So Lambert is right to praise the fans, and appreciate the support, the backing and the time he is being given by the vast majority, but he must also know that the way to keep that is by supplementing this team with the experience it needs in the window, and by continuing to go for games, and by helping to motivate the lads to put in the determined performances we saw against the likes of the Manchesters, and not the lack of determined performances where we lumber through we've seen in recent games.
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Date:Friday December 28 2012
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