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DROP-OUT LAMBERT’S OPTIMISM

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PAUL LAMBERT insists Ipswich “have great things to look forward to”, despite the club’s relegation from the Championship at the weekend.

The former Celtic and Scotland skipper saw the East Anglian outfit topple into the third tier of the English division for the first time since 1957 following their 1-1 home draw with Birmingham City.

Lambert, 49, who experienced the same sinking feeling at Stoke City last term, was handed the gaffer’s job at Portman Road in October last year to replace Paul Hart who was axed after just one win in 14 games.

However, with four matches still to play, the Suffolk outfit have failed to escape the drop with the Scot achieving only three victories in almost six months..

The much-travelled manager, speaking to BBC Sport, said: “You saw the reception at the end of the game, that was incredible.

“I’ve been involved in some unbelievable moments in my career, that’s as good as it gets for me, that’s how emotional it was.

“The support is unbelievable, I’m gutted for them, I’m gutted for the players and I’m gutted for all the staff here at Portman Road.

“Everyone who knows me, knows I’m a realist, but I’d always believed we could do well. You’ve got to analyse the disappointment and then try to plan what will happen next year.

“It’s gut-wrenching, it’s horrible. But we have great things to look forward to.”

Lambert’s side went into Saturday’s crucial encounter knowing that anything less than a win would see their 17-year stay in the second tier come to an end.

They fell behind after just seven minutes when Lukas Jutkiewicz scored for the Midlands side, but Gwion Edwards levelled immediately after the restart.

However, Town just could not get a second goal and relegation means they will face Lincoln City in a league game next season for the first time since 1961 after the Imps made certain of promotion from League Two with a 1-1 draw against Cheltenham Town.

A year ago, Lambert left Stoke City after the team lost their Premier League status.

A Champions League winner with Borussia Dortmund, he also played for St Mirren and Motherwell while kicking off his managerial career at Livingston in June 2005.

He went on to take charge of Wycombe, Norwich, Aston Villa, Wolves and Blackburn as well as Stoke and Ipswich.

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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