‘You never give up until it’s impossible’ – Lambert insists fading Ipswich are still aiming for automatic promotion

PUBLISHED: 11:16 28 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:19 28 February 2020

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert has been called a 'leader' by former player Jens Berthel Askou. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert has been called a 'leader' by former player Jens Berthel Askou. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Stephen Waller

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert insists his side are still aiming for automatic promotion from League One.

The Blues have slipped from first to ninth in the space of a month. They head into tomorrow's game at Blackpool three points adrift of the play-off places and nine points off of the top-two of Rotherham and Coventry.

It looks as though at least six wins will be required from the final 11 games if Town are to secure a top-six spot. For context, they've won just four of their previous 22 across all competitions.

Asked if he was confident a top-six place would be secured, Lambert replied: "Yes, I always am. We have everything to play for and a lot of games to play. Let's see what happens come May."

Asked if he felt a top-two finish was beyond his side now, he said: "No, you go for everything. Until somebody says it's not mathematically possible then you go for it. If we can get in the top two, great. If we can get on a run, great.

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"There are going to be a hell of a lot of twists and turns in this league before anything's decided so you never give up until somebody says it's not possible."

He continued: "We have to break that barrier of the fear factor at home, but the away form's been really good. Football-wise, I've watched the Oxford game back and we had four clear-cut chances to put the ball in the net but we lost the first goal. When you have that dominance you have to score in that moment and if you don't you put pressure on yourself. We have to take our chances and handle expectancy level.

"I said at the beginning that there was going to be bumps and bruises along the way and we've only just dropped out of the top six the other week.

"We've been there all season so I knew we were going really well, but I also knew there were twists and turns going to happen and I knew we weren't going to be able to sustain the start.

"Injuries and the amount of games we had were going to have an impact but we're still in a position to do something ourselves - we don't need to rely on anybody else.

"As a football player and manager you want things in your own hands and if you have that it's half the battle.

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"We'll tick the games off game-by-game - we try and win Tuesday, try and win Saturday. You want the guys to be free in their heads to go and play and just enjoy it. If you do that the results will come."

Asked what he thought the biggest factors were in his team's slide down the table, Lambert said: "I think the expectancy level of the club.

"If you look at the games we've dominated a lot of them but you have to score when you have that dominance. There's a level of expectancy, especially at home with the amount of people coming, and some of the players aren't used to that.

"You can include experienced guys in that as well, so you have to be used to the pressure of trying to win something. Football-wise there's been a lot of good stuff and an incredible amount of chances, so it's just fine-margin stuff really. If you take care of that you'll be up there."

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He added: "The way I view Ipswich Town, even if I wasn't the manager here and was somebody coming to the stadium to watch a game, is that you know it is a huge club because of the stadium, the history and the level it's been in the past.

"When you sign here and when you play here you have to be able to handle that whole scenario because that's what comes with it. If you play here, you have to handle that.

"For me it's not a problem because I've had it all my life but for a lot of them it's new - the big club, the big fanbase and the big expectancy level. Once you master that you can get through anything.

"Will they be better for it? 100% they will be."

IPSWICH TOWN'S REMAINING FIXTURES

Sat: Blackpool (a)

Tues Mar 3: Fleetwood (h)

Sat Mar 7: Coventry (h)

Sat Mar 14: Bristol Rovers (a)

Sat Mar 21: Portsmouth (h)

Sat Apr 4: Southend (h)

Fri Apr 10: Bolton (h)

Mon Apr 13: Shrewsbury (a)

Sat Apr 18: Rochdale (h)

Sat Apr 25: Doncaster (a)

Sun May 3: MK Dons (h)

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