Revealed: What Marcus Evans said during individual meetings with Lambert, O’Neill and players
PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:05 05 August 2020
Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans held a series of individual meetings with staff and players last week to hammer home his core principles ahead of the new season.
Evans spent two days at Playford Road, watching training and then conducting one-on-one chats with manager Paul Lambert, general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill, as well as several players.
It’s understood that the 56-year-old assured Lambert that he is not looking to cash in on any of the club’s sellable assets following the financially damaging Covid-19 break – Flynn Downes, Luke Woolfenden, James Norwood and Kayden Jackson all having suitors.
Evans also made it very clear that there has to be a full committal to his five-point plan going forwards – the message being that youth must be given a chance and the team must try and develop an attractive and exciting brand of football.
In what was the club’s first season in the third-tier since 1957, Town ended up finishing a bitterly disappointing 11th after the table was decided on a points per game model. The Blues may have been denied the chance to play out a ‘kind on paper’ eight-game run-in, but their prolonged relegation form – 19 points claimed from 21 games – meant a shot at promotion had already been blown.
The mood inside Portman Road had started to turn a little sour during March home defeats to Fleetwood and Coventry, with the suspension of play taking the heat off of boss Lambert and the team.
It’s understood that Lambert has pulled no punches with his players since they’ve reconvened for pre-season training following a near 20-week break, telling them that their efforts last season were simply not good enough.
The progress of Downes and Woolfenden was a big plus in 2019/20, but they were the only youngsters to play regularly. This coming season the door may be ajar for the likes of Myles Kenlock, Andre Dozzell, Armando Dobra and Idris El Mizouni to play more, as well as the fit-again duo of Jack Lankester and Tristan Nydam.
Lambert, understood to take inspiration from Manchester City and advice from his contacts in Germany, rotated his squad for much of last season in an attempt to manage the potential workload of ‘60 games’.
The Blues boss, not helped by some key injuries, tried various formations – starting with 4-4-2, switching to 3-5-2 for a long spell and also using 4-3-3 – with 30 different players used in the 36 league games played, plus a further 10 in the cups.
The result was that Town, who had looked to be developing a playing style on their way to relegation, had no real identity, unlike the robust and direct Wycombe or possession-based Oxford, to use just two examples.
Asked if the rotation policy was something he’d change in hindsight, Lambert told the EADT: “Yeah. There’s that and other things as well. One or two things I’d do differently. I have a lot of things written down which I hope can be corrected.” O’Neill has said “We can’t make the same mistakes again”.
Lambert has said that “recruitment will change and that may well see more youth players becoming involved”, while O’Neill has said that the “first objective is to win the league” and that “we need to strengthen the squad”.