Lambert on goalless draw at Wimbledon, Norwood's low confidence and his failed attempt to bring Wickham back to Ipswich
PUBLISHED: 22:48 11 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:28 12 February 2020
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert admitted James Norwood's confidence is low following tonight's goalless draw at AFC Wimbledon, then revealed he tried to bring former Blues striker Connor Wickham back to the club in January.
Norwood hit the bar and saw two other chances saved by the keeper in a game Town dominated without ever really banging the door down. The Blues remain seventh in the League One table with plenty of sides above and below them all with a game or two in hand to come.
"We dominated the game," said Lambert, who also saw home keeper Joe Day make a super stop from a Will Keane volley. "It was the same as Saturday (1-0 loss at Sunderland). We had enough chances to win two or three games. It's about taking chances when on top. We dominated the ball, but you've got to score. We've got to be more ruthless.
"Look at James Norwood for example - he scored goals for fun at Tranmere. Okay, it's at a different level, but there were chances gone there for him tonight.
"Listen, when your team-mate has a hard time you get your arm around them and pick them up and try to make them feel good about themselves. That's what we'll try and do. Okay, he's a bit low on confidence at the minute, but his goals at the start of the season were excellent for us. He had his injury, he's fine now. He had chances on Saturday and again tonight but was just not able to take them. Normally he is more clinical than that."
Asked if he regretted not adding a striker to his squad during the January transfer window, the Blues boss said: "We couldn't get one. We tried for a lot of guys. I enquired about the lad Connor Wickham who was here. Dear oh dear... Lee (O'Neill, general manager of football operations) spoke to his agent and the money was *puffs cheeks out*. It was incredible. We don't have that money.
"Did I want to get some people in to help? Aye. But we couldn't get anybody in our bracket. We thought we needed a little bit of help in certain areas to get us through it but it just never materialised."
Asked if he thought his squad had what it takes to score goals and get a promotion push back on track, Lambert replied: "Yeah, because they've shown it before. I know it's in them. They've got goals in them, we just have to bring it out. It's not as if we're not creating. I'd be more worried if we weren't creating chances.
"Listen, we have to start to win. Everybody knows that. We have to start to win. You can't play that well and not score."
That's now 22 points claimed from 20 games. Only four teams in the division - Bolton, MK Dons, Tranmere and Southend - have claimed fewer in that time.
Quizzed on that record, Lambert said: "We've had a hell of time. We turned the corner a bit in January. In the last four games it's been three defeats and a draw. The draw stops the rot. But you can't dominate the game and not score. You have to score goals when you are on top. You have to come through it."
Asked of the pressure was getting to his players, Lambert said: "At any big club the expectancy is always there. You have to stand up to it. You like to think people have got the mentality to stand up to it. We've got some young guys in the side, some experienced guys in the side. This is probably the first time they've had this expectancy level on them to try and achieve something.
"It will be good in the long run for them, though they might not feel like that at the moment."
"You have to find it within yourself. I've told them to stick together, that there's a long way to go and nine games to come at home still."
Can his team still finish in the top or get promoted via the play-offs?
"Absolutely, aye, because there's a long, long way to go," said Lambert. "But we have to start to win games. We're creating things, we're on the front foot, dominating games and should have had more out of today and Saturday."
How will he turn things around?
"You have to win - winning does it," he said. "We're playing decent football, we're playing good football at certain moments. But you have to score when you are on top."
Asked what the mood had been like among the 789 fans who were stood directly behind the away dugout at the Kingsmeadow Stadium, Lambert said: "The fans are brilliant here. Some of the things they've been through... They've been brilliant for me. Everyone is disappointed we're not winning - I get all that. I can never say a bad word about Ipswich fans."
On the progress of Freddie Sears, who is yet to start a game following his recovery from a long-term knee injury, Lambert said: "He's doing alright, but you have to remember that kid's been out for a year. I've not seen one major tackle he's gone into, jumped up and gone again. We've got to watch him. But he's doing really well."