Paul Lambert says he is ready to make his return to football after nine months out of the game ahead of his first match as manager of Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Speaking to the media at Ewood Park today, Lambert described the job as both an opportunity and a challenge saying: “the challenge is to get out of the league, the opportunity is the same”.
After rumours emerged last week that negotiations between Lambert and Rovers had been scuppered by interest from other clubs, Lambert clarified that: “there was other things over the nine months” adding that he “didn’t think it was right at the time and this is a great opportunity”.
When pressed on Rovers’ current financial problems, Lambert dismissed suggestions that it should be used as an excuse for results on the pitch, saying that: “the biggest thing for us is to start winning games, a lack of money won’t necessarily make us lose games, if you use it as an excuse it’s always going to happen to you.”
The Scot also appealed for the support of the Ewood Park faithful, saying the club needs the fans, but did acknowledge that “it may take some time, but if we get the team playing and entertaining the crowd then I’m pretty sure they’ll come in and back us”.
Lambert also praised the club’s owners, confirming he had spoken to them and that “they have been great, they’ve let us come in and run it our way”, going on to add “they’ve been really supportive and they’ve told me the situation which I’m comfortable with and there’s no problem”.
Rovers’ new manager was also keen to stress the importance of top scorer Jordan Rhodes to the squad, describing him as a “massive player” and suggesting he could have a similar impact for Lambert as Christian Benteke at Aston Villa or Grant Holt at Norwich.
When asked about the club’s chances of reaching the playoffs this season, Lambert said: “there’s still a lot of games to be played and I know from experience that if you do have a run you can maybe sneak in there.”
By Toby Wilding