Paul Lambert is looking forward to a reunion with his former manager Martin O’Neill when his Ipswich Town side face Nottingham Forest this afternoon.
That was the message from the Tractor Boys boss when he spoke to the East Anglian Daily Times, ahead of the Championship contest later today.
O’Neill saw his side’s play-off chances dealt a blow in midweek as they were defeated by fellow top six hopefuls Aston Villa. The Reds realistically need to pick up three points this afternoon to keep their play-off hopes alive.
It won’t be an easy game against the Tractor Boys though. The Reds have only won once in their last six visits to Portman Road.
Speaking on his spell at Celtic under the management of O’Neill, Lambert said: “He was brilliant, five years of brilliance up the road.
“I had five brilliant years there with the gaffer. It was relentless, absolutely brilliant.
“It was a great, great time and a really, really good side.
“I look forward to seeing him.”
O’Neill won’t be the only familiar face in the away dugout for Lambert.
He also has a close relationship with Roy Keane following their spell working together at Aston Villa. Keane assisted Lambert at Villa Park for five months. He eventually left to link up with O’Neill as the Republic of Ireland’s assistant.
Lambert believes that Keane in particular is often unfairly criticised. He said: “I always got on well with him and never found him the way some people do.
“I think he’s unfairly criticised with a lot of things but he’s a proper football guy.
“We get on really well and had some really big moments. He’s a big football guy and has a real sense of humour.”
Following Aitor Karanka’s departure, those on the banks of the River Trent are hopeful that O’Neill and Keane’s unique relationship can deliver success.
Lambert isn’t particularly surprised at the success they’ve already achieved working together.
He said: “It doesn’t surprise me (they have had success together). I’ve played under one and the other has worked with me.
“Everybody on the outside maybe has major questions but, for me, it’s normal with normal guys doing a job for their team.”
Despite his admiration for the duo, Lambert will be looking to get one over on them this afternoon.