'The worst performance in my time here... It was not good enough' - Lambert on FA Cup exit to Coventry
PUBLISHED: 22:37 10 December 2019 | UPDATED: 22:48 10 December 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert delivered a scathing verdict of his team's performance following tonight's 2-1 home defeat to Coventry City in an FA Cup second round replay.
Luke Garbutt's late goal flattered the Blues on a difficult night in which they were outclassed by their League One rivals. Plenty of the small crowd (6,515) left early amidst heavy rain and swirling wind, while many of those that stayed aired their frustrations at the final whistle.
"Not good enough, without a doubt," said Lambert. "That's the worst performance we've turned in during my year here. We never deserved to go through. All credit Coventry, they were better than us, but it's the worst performance in my time here.
"Listen, we were poor. We never turned up, we never got going and never did the basics of the game. You cannot mask the fact that we didn't deserve to go through. Coventry were better than us right from the off. We were marginally better in the second half, marginally, but we have to be better than that.
"If we'd have got an equaliser we wouldn't have deserved it. There's no hiding from that. A lot of fans had a really terrible night. It was not good enough."
Asked why he thought that was, Lambert replied: "There are loads of things that can happen. I've been involved in games like that as a player where you try everything and nothing comes off. It's just one of those things that happens. Our game just wasn't there. The intensity wasn't where it has been. It just wasn't good enough."
Lambert made eight changes to his line-up and again switched formations. His team may have been looked good on paper, but they played like strangers. Asked if his squad rotation policy had contributed to a drop in cohesion, chemistry and momentum in recent weeks - Town have now won just one of their last nine (excluding penalties) in all competitions - the Blues boss replied: "It doesn't matter what system you play - three at the back, four at the back, five at the back, two at the back... If you don't do the basics of the game it doesn't matter.
"The principles are always the same. If you don't want to work and don't want to run and do the basics of the game then it doesn't matter what system you play. You can play like Pep's team, you can play like Arrigo Sacchi's team, whoever, but you have to do the basics and work. It doesn't matter what system you play! If you don't want to work and make tackles and fight, then it doesn't matter.
"The principles of the game of football is you have to run and you have to be aggressive. Pep, Klopp, they will all tell you they are the basics and the principles of the game. We let ourselves down with that tonight. That's what's frustrated me."
It was put to Lambert that many of the players that featured tonight had only made one or two outings over a period of a month or more. Asked if a stop-start schedule had led to them becoming rusty, he replied: "No. Because we train at a high intensity. We train really hard. It's a good standard of training. Tonight it wasn't there.
"As I said before, it doesn't matter what system you play - the basics have to be there. This football club, with the history it's got, you have to work and earn the right. The basics are working hard."
With a smattering of boos greeting both the half-time and full-time whistles, and ironic cheers and chants following a rare shot on target, Lambert was asked if such audible frustration was understandable.
"Yeah because it wasn't good enough," he said. "There's no masking it. I'm not going to make excuses. I understand the game and that wasn't good enough. The lads know it wasn't good enough. Everybody recognises it wasn't good enough. But one performance in over a year like that is... I'm not saying it's okay, but I understand how it happens."
Ipswich now host Bristol Rovers in a top-six League One clash on Saturday.