Andrew Abbott's Blog

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Cometh the hour cometh the man.

And boy do we need him. Yes Gary Simpson has been named as successor to David Holdsworth at Lincoln City. In an announcement that City fans were probably expecting, given that Simpson seemed to tick all the boxes the board set out in their wish list one presumes all that remained to be done was to agree terms once the former assistant boss expressed an interest in the job.

There is a fair degree of magnanimity in Gary Simpson returning to Sincil Bank particularly after the “Gardening Leave” fiasco that was never fully explained which resulted in the break up of the successful partnership with Keith Alexander and, many fans believe, heralded the decline that would see the club slump to its present desperate state. Simpson was the sacrificial lamb sacked to bring an end to a sorry and mysterious episode in Lincoln City’s history.

It will be a fairly historic feat if Simpson can steady the ship in time to escape relegation, perhaps not on the same scale as way back when the club needed to engineer a series of wins to avoid the drop but nevertheless a stiff test of the new boss who I notice was not making light of the task when interviewed on BBC Radio Lincolnshire.

We can no doubt look forward to a somewhat more uncompromising style of football, backs to the wall belligerence and, hopefully the sort of never say die attitude that was the hallmark of previously happier days, sadly missing from Holdsworth’s team. Strange that as I’m sure that’s exactly what the former boss wanted but was unable to deliver.

The “new” manager will have the benefit of something that Holdsworth never enjoyed, goodwill from the terraces and hopefully the fans will attend home games in larger numbers to take a little pressure off our beleaguered board, they could do with that.

All in all then, difficult though our situation is I can’t but help feel a new optimism. Simpson has experience as a manager and did well at Macclesfield before falling victim to the old problem of having to sell off players but then paid the price for lack of success due to doing so. He will have been toughened up by that experience and will need a thick skin but finally, finally, we have one of our own at the helm, someone we can all unite around as we embark on the Herculean task of getting our football club back to where we all want to be.

Good luck Gary.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Now we know.

Another funny old week in Impdom, well funny’s not the word where a man’s livelihood is at stake but let’s say a very rare occurrence. We found out exactly what happened behind the scenes at Sincil Bank.

Following on from the mid week press conference we are now all aware that David Holdsworth was sacked effectively but it was decided to call it mutual consent. Just how much consent was in evidence is a moot point but Leigh Curtis’ column in yesterday's Echo seemed to indicate that the great communicator had probably run out of steam. We learned that the board had first discussed the managers position after the Stockport game, as well they might, and this ties in with the previous assertion that the board were satisfied with the situation (as opposed to the fans who seem to have decided some time ago that Holsdworth was not the man to lead us back to civilisation)

It was also revealed that Holdsworth was given another game, Hereford, to reverse the alarming tailspin the club had gone into but that game went the way of the others, null points. The coup de grace was delivered by telephone on Sunday. It was probably a relief although, like others, whether Holdsworth will find his way back into football management after his experience at Lincoln is debatable.

Talking of Leigh Curtis’ musings in the Echo, his lunchtime kick off feature was a real insight for me. As he alludes, among all the managers who have tried and failed, since Keith, there are two constants, ourselves the fans and the board. The managers have come and gone. Success has eluded them, so we look at the other factors to deduce why we are so spectacularly bad. Now we have on occasions had the finger pointed at us for lack of support, a charge I would vehemently deny, that was just a smokescreen. So who are we left with? Just a thought.

So to business, Barrow are the visitors this weekend followed by an equally tough fixture against Mansfield, who we are getting to know well this season. I’m going to quote verbatim from dutch1585 writing in this weeks Vital Lincoln, because I couldn’t have put it any better myself :-

“The pressure is really on this Imps squad who could easily be accused of letting Holdsworth down massively since the turn of the year and they should be feeling very guilty that he has been sacked. The individual and stupid errors have cost the managers job."

Exactly, but life goes on and I shall close by wishing Messrs Brown and Moyses all the best in their quest to bring stability back to the team.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Another one bites the dust.

So farewell then David Holdsworth. I’ve no scientific basis for this but I would guess that your win ratio is among the worst of any Lincoln City manager. Whether this is entirely or indeed even slightly your fault we shall never know.

Holdsworth certainly talked a good game and if the instruction for last season was slash the wage bill and keep City in the division then he did all that was asked of him. Another manager goes falling on his sword with, for me, echoes of someone else who tried and failed, Chris Sutton. Sutton could see which way the wind was blowing and chose to depart rather than face the day to day struggle for survival that is the hot seat at Sincil Bank. At least City were still in the Football League when Sutton took his leave. The Imps are virtually where they were when Holdsworth took over. He may argue that is in itself an achievement given the resources at his disposal but ultimately (cliché alert) football is a results business and Holdsworths were poor. Desperately poor.

Until recently all the vibes coming out of the club were that the manager would be awarded a new contract and the club were just sorry that, given the paucity of resources, it would be a short one. Holdsworth, master of publicity, pronounced himself satisfied with that. The trouble with all this is that the fans were not satisfied, not in the slightest.

The club, meanwhile, sailed on either oblivious to the fans views or disregarding of them. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Indeed he does but football is unlike any other business arrangement and the crowd have to be listened to eventually even if things have to turn ugly for their view to prevail. Had we reached that point? Had Holdsworth tired of the treadmill?

The problem with City’s situation is that the (another cliché alert) view from the terraces, from where I’m sitting at any rate is that the club have settled for their lowly status and instead of pronouncing themselves dissatisfied at the lack of progress the board gave the impression that all was well and what we have been witnessing IS progress. What the board of directors seem to be oblivious to is that there are plenty of other things to do in Lincoln of a Saturday afternoon but they have only to look out from their padded seats to gaze upon the empty spaces opposite them to see evidence of what the fans think. They’re voting with their feet. At one time there would have been a demonstration in front of the director’s box, now we can’t even get a quorum to do that.

So what do we have to offer the next incumbent? An impoverished club, detached from their supporters, some decent players and a lot of dead wood. Would you be interested? Nevertheless, I wish the board well in their quest for a replacement and of course such is the state of the game even at our humble level there will be takers. Darren Huckerby tweeted that he was considering throwing his hat in the ring but hoped that his enquiry would at least be acknowledged this time. Come on City, you can hardly fail to do better than that surely?

Saturday, 9 February 2013

A game a game my kingdom for a game.

Rumour has it that there is to be a football match down at Sincil Bank today. Locally we’ve been entranced by the goings on over in Leicester and I’m just wondering if David Holdsworth will be revealing a fresh faced reconstructed Lincoln City or whether the embittered old hunchback who was so cruel to its supporters and ended up in an unmarked grave all that time ago will be the dominant force.

Last weeks postponement just seemed the latest twist in this stop start season that has mirrored the Imps own (mis)fortunes as another desperate season unfolds before our horrified eyes. I’m determined not to get myself all depressed again and of course City’s woes are not entirely man made. Lady luck has had a big part to play in yet another disappointing campaign. Maybe those theories about dropping the Imp to revive our fortunes may not be so wide of the mark, he is a little devil after all, not that it has done Manchester United that much harm to be so associated.

Team wise, the curious case of the loanees unfolded, Messrs Bush and Thompson departed the club but Power and Gilbert should be available which gladdens my heart but not as much as would be the case if Mo Fofana were available, he has been sorely missed. Defensively City have to improve and fast, in fact the whole team has to get its act together and regroup, once again if it’s not to be squeaky bum time yet again at Sincil Bank.

So who better to face than minnows Dartford this afternoon? No hang on a minute. Dartford are having an excellent season, in tenth place and on 41 points, still in the FA Trophy. They got a stuffing at Mansfield last weekend which you may judge a good or a bad thing, they’ll be looking to get things back on track today. They will also be looking to put the record straight and avoid City doing the double on them after City’s win, in fact City’s last win, last December when the teams met at Dartford.

It will certainly be good to be out in the fresh air and at a match again. Whether we will still feel quite as good come five o’clock as always, time will tell.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Must do better.

I’ve often complained in this blog of the general air of gloom and despondency surrounding Lincoln City Football Club, you know the club we all look towards to lift us out of our own cares and troubles and give us a bit of escape come the weekend. For a while before Christmas things were definitely looking up, a settled side was put out, points were being gained, we even had a cup run to cheer us up.

Things started to go downhill when City were dumped out of the FA Trophy, a competition I felt the club should have had a real tilt at. Another knockout situation was still occupying the manager though, the FA Cup, traditional graveyard of our hopes. The Imps had made good, if stuttering progress and, if they could make it to the third round they could really hit a goldmine. As it turned out they eventually faced the delicious prospect of playing Liverpool at home in front of the TV cameras. That was not to be of course although City did appear on  the box for the replay against Mansfield. It’s fair to say if my sofa had not been placed against a wall I would have spent much of that game behind it.

Back to the Trophy and the manager, and I offer no criticism here, played a, shall we say less than full strength team. Several influential players were on the cusp of a ban. Some needed a rest. Better teams than City have gone down the same route and with the same result so, as I say, no bad mouthing from me but from that point it was back to the bad old ways, an increase in interest from locals had led to some better gates only for those returning fans, and I did actually hear this from my seat in the Echo stand, to express the view that the football on offer and the results, were the reason they stopped going. Ironically, there was a spell when that was anything but the case with good, in places really good football, played in front of the dwindling home support and the team garnered much needed points.

So, out of both cup and trophy, City were comprehensively beaten by our old friends and foes Grimsby Town on Boxing Day, falling victim to that old albatross of giving a team a start and only when it was too late making a game of it, they did though, creditably, manage to come away from Blundell Park on New Years Day with a point. Mariner’s fans were graceful enough to say it was a terrific performance from the Imps but they have not really managed another since.

And so to this weeks headline from the Lincolnshire Echo “Cash Strapped City forced to cut their squad”. I’m still coming to terms with accepting defeat at home against the likes of Forest Green Rovers. I cannot believe, well as they are doing, that a full time squad of players cannot give a better account of themselves in front of their home supporters against the likes of Forest Green. I don’t believe the manager accepts that either or the players but of course players win or lose matches, not the manager and not the supporters, whatever some people might have us believe.

My worry is that the club as an entity is starting to accept our lowly situation and, as a fan that is completely unacceptable. At this rate cash strapped City will be forced to cut their squad again and again, then part time, then we really will have to accept teams that we regarded as minnows walking all over us and deservedly so if they are motivated better than us and put more effort in.

City have the chance to ram my words back down my throat this Saturday at Braintree Town. The trapdoor is uncomfortably close. Please do make me eat my words.