Lambert's love affair with Ipswich goes on - although where, no one is quite certain
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Paul Lambert says he will stay on as manager of Ipswich Town – whether they survive the drop or not.
Town are four points adrift at the bottom of the Championship and although the one-time Norwich City manager signed a contract until 2021 when appointed last October, there was uncertainty over whether he could trigger a relegation release clause.
Lambert has gone on an extraordinary campaign to get local fans behind his struggling team, including penning an open letter to them this week, but on Friday, Town cranked up the charm offensive even further.
With the East Anglian derby at Carrow Road just three weeks away, Town issued a joint statement from Lambert and club owner Marcus Evans.
Whether it proves to be a winner is open to debate.
The statement reads: “Marcus Evans and Paul Lambert have reinforced their desire to turn Town’s fortunes around together after allaying any concerns over the manager’s future should Blues not beat the drop.
“The owner, Paul and recently appointed general manager football operations, Lee O’Neill, have been involved in a series of meetings over the last two weeks to discuss plans for the future right across the club.
“The first of which was to ensure Paul, assistant manager Stuart Taylor, first-team coach Matt Gill, fitness coach Jim Henry and goalkeeper coach Jimmy Walker will be at Portman Road next season regardless of the club’s league status.”
Lambert added: “Marcus made it clear he wants me and my staff here next season whatever happens over the next four months and I made it clear we want to be here so it was a pretty easy conversation to have.
“I’m fully committed to this job. I don’t know any other way. This is a fantastic football club. It’s just lost its way a bit. I’m here, my staff are here, to help it.
“I want to see this job through, help turn the club around. I’ve said before, it’s not normal to see the support we are getting from the fans when you are bottom of the league. Imagine what this place would be like if the team was winning games every week. It would be crazy.”
“I want to be here to see that. It’s my job to try and help make it happen and get the club back competing where it should be.
“Marcus has committed himself to being here as much as he can be and that’s important for all the staff, not just the playing side. We need him here. The club needs him.
“We’ve got a really good working relationship and I have nothing but praise for the backing he has given me.
“Our immediate concern is this season but, working with Lee as well, we are putting plans in place for the future. Things have to change here and everyone is committed to making that happen.”
Evans added: “I have been hugely impressed by the impact Paul has made in his short time here and I think it’s important to reinforce the message to our supporters that Paul and his team are here for the long term.
“This has been an incredibly tough season so far, however despite everything I feel positive that we have a manager and structure at the club which provides us with a clear identity going forward.
“The evolution at the club that I started last summer was never going to be easy and obviously we are all disappointed to be where we are in the table but I urge supporters to continue to stay with us as we strive to achieve our goals.
“Above all else I wanted to create a structure – and still do – whereby every aspect of the club’s plans focus on us winning football matches but, as importantly, doing this in an attractive and entertaining fashion.
“The start of that journey was delayed but I now feel we are on our way.
“It will take time to put the pieces in place that enable this to happen but in the end the rebuilding process will be worth it.
“Paul is leading that with my support, Lee’s and everyone at the club – but, as always, the fans are a big part of the team effort as well and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for the support they have given Paul and the players.
“The atmosphere at the Rotherham game was electric and we need that support more than ever at every game through to the end of the season. Having spoken to the players, I know how much that backing means to them.”