“Why would any club give any manager a five-year deal?”
It’s a reasonable question, raised by Caroline Barker on this week’s Totally Football League Show, but that’s exactly what Ipswich Town did with Paul Lambert a few weeks ago.
It was a decision that looked odd at the time but looks utterly tonto now, with Ipswich having won just four of their last 20 games, slipping down from the top of the table to now outside the playoff places, and their chances of making it back are slim, to say the least.
“It has to go down as one of the daftest decisions in the recent history of English football to give Paul Lambert a five-year deal, in the middle of a winless run,” said Adrian Clarke. “It’s got worse since then, and I hope for their sake there’s a clause in that contract that means they won’t have to pay up the full five years of the contract.
“I look at the team and I look at his decisions – it’s changing all the time. 3-5-1-1 last night against Fleetwood, changed it at half-time and hauled off the kid, Brett McGavin, who was making his debut. He picked the wrong team basically.
“I think a lot of the supporters think he’s been picking the wrong team for a while.”
The latest defeat came on Tuesday night against Fleetwood, which Simon Watts watched:
“Fleetwood absolutely outclassed them. Ipswich were flat and outclassed again against Oxford a few weeks ago – it’s happening time and again.
“The contract: doesn’t that just underline the level of common sense we’re dealing with here, with people who are running football clubs?
“They were booed off at the end, and they were calling for Lambert and Marcus Evans [the owner] out: the atmosphere is toxic.”
An incredulous Adrian Clarke just kept coming back to that deal, and the idea that Lambert has, as the old cliche goes, lost the dressing room.
“I don’t know – was Marcus Evans starstruck or what? They talk about the ‘connection’, Lambert repairing the relationship between the fans and the club, and the fans have been turning out.
“But Ipswich should have been at the top end of the table in the first half of the season anyway. I don’t think he’s done anything special. He did a good job earlier on, it’s definitely going wrong now and he’s getting himself into more and more of a mess.
“There’s a lack of intensity, not a lot of fight: these are all signs of a team that aren’t really in it for the manager. Have they lost faith in his ability to guide them back into the Championship? It looks to me like they have.”
You can listen to the latest edition of the Totally Football League Show here, or even better you can subscribe here. If you wish to reproduce any of the material in this article or from the podcast you are very welcome to, but please credit The Totally Football Show and include this link.