The Wolves View: Lambert the right choice?


Paul Lambert –

Wolverhampton Wanderers have hit something of a brick wall. Following a progressive two seasons, they stagnated in the Championship last term, due to a combination of an unambitious board, key player exits and dull football. All three of those things arguably changed in the summer, yet head coach Walter Zenga’s reign lasted just 87 days. Fosun International cannot be criticized for a lack of investment, so is stability the required ingredient? Is Paul Lambert the man to provide it? Answering these questions and more is supporter Reg Probert (@Reg1981).

I saw you beat Brentford 3-1 in September and there seemed to be a positive vibe around the club. After that you had a bad five games, most of which against good teams and the board sacked Walter Zenga. Has he been harshly treated?

With so many signings in the summer without Championship experience I always felt it was going to take time for things to settle and in truth we were massively inconsistent with a few good performances (Newcastle, Blues, Villa, Brentford) but mostly we looked not surprisingly poor. Without massive fan protest I would have given him until December but there was an inevitability that it wouldn’t work out.

Yourself among a lot of other Wolves fans were unhappy with Steve Morgan’s ownership of the club, due to the lack of investment in the squad. Do you think the club is in better hands now?

I think so yes, they are new and there are a lot of unknowns and they have certainly made some early mistakes but I do think they’ll get things right. It’s hopefully just a question of how long it will take.

Lambert’s seven signings at Blackburn had played all or most their careers in Britain, five of which over 26. He went for a similar route in his last season at Aston Villa. Eight of the 13 additions under Fosun International’s regime are under 25, eight had never played in England, many were Jorge Mendes’ clients. With limited power in recruitment, is there a danger Lambert won’t get the types of players he wants?

I don’t think we are many players away from being decent and Lambert has to have a greater say in transfers than Zenga clearly had. A couple of experienced players in the spine of the team (at least one centre back is a must) and a goalscorer would improve us no end. For me the guy who gets stick when we lose has to have the final say on who we sign.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson looks like a powerful striker. Given that Lambert has worked with big, strong goalscorers such as Grant Holt and Christian Benteke, is he a player he will take to?

With Nouha Dicko and Bodvarsson we have two powerful strikers and I would love us to get both in the team but fear our midfield is too poor for a 4-4-2. Bodvarsson is a managers dream as he works so hard and will hopefully improve and benefit under Lambert.

By contrast, the likes of Joao Teixeira and Helder Costa are small, skilful technicians. Would they suit a more expansive system than the types Lambert favours?

Teixeira needs to work much harder to earn a starting place. He drifts out of games and is too lightweight. Costa on the other hand has improved and looks a decent player who will surely feature under Lambert in an attacking role. I’d be disappointed if he didn’t.

12 different midfielders have been used this season. Is more tactical consistency required?

We signed so many players in the summer it was difficult for Zenga to know his best team by October. Chopping and changing didn’t help him but there are some decent midfield players in the squad. Conor Coady and Romain Saiss are good sitting midfielders and Jack Price can pick a pass, Dave Edwards works so hard and gets forward well but we lack a real quality centre midfielder who can get up and down, create and score. We have too many players in the squad and some need to leave in January.

For all the investment made, there are still question marks about the defence. Will it be important to sign an experienced centre-back?

Absolutely key, no matter where we are come January. I’m assuming Mike Williamson is not coming back as he hasn’t got a squad number and no one mentions him but he made the other centre backs better. Danny Batth, Dominic Iorfa, Kortney Hause and Richard Stearman all need someone better next to them to organise them so this should be Lambert’s number one transfer target.

Goalkeeper Carl Ikeme has recently picked up an injury. After Andy Lonergan had made some good saves in the Derby game, is there an opportunity for him to work his way into Lambert’s plans?

For me Ikeme is number one and surely Lambert will see his quality. Always thought Lonergan is a great shot stopper and a great back up but hopefully Ikeme won’t be out for long.

Which opposing team has impressed you most at Molineux? Who do you think will make the Championship’s play-off places?

We’ve been so bad in some games it’s hard to tell how good the opposing teams are. Perfect example – Derby on Saturday looked great first half but pretty sure that was partly down to how bad we were. Again I’m sure we contributed to Barnsley looking good. Newcastle are nailed on for promotion, I like the look of Brighton and think Leeds will do well and I reckon Bruce and Villa will still get top 6.

You said in the summer you were hopeful of a top six push. Is it looking more like a season of struggle now?

I felt in the summer with the right investment we could make top 6 but then all but a handful of teams probably thought the same. We’ve probably got too much to do now and the squad still looks short.