Andrew Abbott's Blog

Monday, 23 March 2015

Back on the rails, in Wales.

It was on to the radio for me last Tuesday after BBC Radio Lincolnshire invited me to take part in the phone in preceding the away game at Alfreton. You get the impression that the callers are selected at random from people who call in and calls are encouraged during the programme and the ones before. The reality is that at least some are arranged previously and those “callers” are in fact phoned by the BBC at a prearranged time. That’s certainly the case with me. In fact I’m the last person to call in to a phone in.

I don’t get home till after six so I usually request a call at about 6.30 and, once called you have to turn your radio off to avoid interference but that’s not a problem as you get put through to the studio and you can hear the program though the phone. The only problem with that timing is that all of the previous callers have had a good go at the subject although the time before last, which was the ill-fated previous go at the Alfreton game, which was also a rearranged one studio anchor man Rob Makepeace led me in with a quote from this blog so that was quite gratifying and gave me a subject but this time the question was what was my take on recent events?

On before me was a very depressed sounding Steve from Skegness who I’m guessing was prominent fan Steve O’Dare who I would have thought was also canvassed by the station to go on air rather than a casual caller. Steve once took me to task for being too downbeat when I was writing for Give me Football, the online magazine of the Professional Footballers Association after I had suggested that City fans were getting nervous at the prospect of City slipping out of the league as they were painfully aware of what a long and tortuous journey it would be back. I think I’ve been proved right on that one.

On to my comments and I must admit I got into my stride at this point and my wife said it was my best radio performance to date. I think some of the previous callers believed the Imps would not garner any further points at all this season and I said I refused to believe that. I commented that this was not Chris Moyses’ team and we should wait until he has had a chance to assemble a squad before jumping to conclusions. I repeated Moyses own assertion that already City were not in a relegation battle which was in itself a welcome relief. Talking of relief my comments were fully endorsed and agreed with by studio guest Mark Hone and no one else rang to say I was a fool so my radio career goes on, or at least will do so if Radio Lincolnshire e mail again.

As we know City got a draw that night and followed up with another draw on Saturday so there you go. It’s a wonder I don’t win more on the lottery with predictions like that. Two draws are hardly world beating but for me it does show that the manager is capable of turning round a bad situation and I’m certainly not writing him off yet. Home form does need addressing though, you don’t need to be Gary Neville to work that one out so Saturday will be another testing day for our management team.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Another dismal match prompts the question where do we go from here?

Last week’s Echo headline, as far as us City fans are concerned was “Moyses aiming to salvage Lincoln's season with top 10 finish”. After Saturday I’m afraid anything salvable from the Imps season will be heading to the incinerator at North Hykeham rather than the recyclers, it was that bad.

It’s very hard to be positive, mystified is more the emotion and that seemed to be shared by Mr Moyses in his post-match interview where he declared that the players had been sent on to the pitch with a strategy to win the game, given the ground conditions and everything else considered. They did not fulfil the coaching staff’s instructions. That much was obvious after Welling scored, completely against the run of play. They, up to that point had been chasing shadows but the goal put a spring in their step and derailed City completely. Another goal in quite similar circumstances followed. Even with half an hour to go a win was still well within City’s grasp but they didn’t even get close to grabbing it.

I’m quite prepared to accept Moyses explanation but the problem is the manager is supposed to impose his will on the team. Can you imagine John Beck offering such an explanation? There would have been blood on the pitch. I also question the roles of the support staff. David Preece seems to enjoy a very cosy and carefree existence and the results since John Schofield joined are redolent of, well the last time John Scofield was manager. I like the management though and still hope for success. City are safe for this season as the manager pointed out. He’s entitled to say that and it is an improvement but what if these results are replicated next season? It will be back to the old merry go round which brings me to what I consider to be the most salient point. What is the one constant in City’s recent existence apart from the fans? The board of directors. They have presided over this malaise. Again, I’ve got no axe to grind with them either, I know how difficult it is but the fact is all this has happened on their watch. Now I hear voices, quite credible voices telling me that inward investment, or at least the persons wishing to make investment, have been rebuffed.

City’s problems over the years have been poor management appointments and lack of cash. You could say that about many of the clubs. I’ve made poor decisions and suffered from lack of cash, I’m sure you have and I’m certainly not pointing the finger at anyone for that but I think if there had been anyone out there willing to come in and see if they could make a go of it I’d have snapped their hands off.

On to tonight and another Echo headline. Moyses will pick players he can trust. I just hope there are enough for a team and a couple of subs.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Keith Alexander.

It’s five years since Keith died. I was motivated to write a few words after reading a tweet from Scott Kerr. I replied to the tweet saying I thought it did him credit that he remembered Keith. To a lot of players Keith would be just another manager along the way but there again Keith wasn’t just another manager and neither, for that matter was Scott just another player.

It’s not that Keith was a particularly successful manager although not only keeping City in the league but making the playoffs and then keeping them there or thereabouts as the great man would say certainly was an achievement that I hope gave him great pride. Judged by what has happened to the club since he left perhaps I’m being too harsh in my judgement, I certainly don’t mean to be.

I met Keith once and I also know, or used to know Matt, his son. I think Keith was at Peterborough United at the time and he was, of all things, opening a block of flats here in Boston. I asked Matt, in a jokey way if he was going to get round to introducing me which he did.

Keith said he didn’t know whether an Imp would want to talk to him. He was very humble, not at all like someone who made his living in one of the toughest professions. I was glad he said that as it enabled me to tell him that to us the fans he was a hero and a great man, that we wished him well and hoped he would get a long way in management. He didn’t as it happened but I suppose merely keeping going in the lower leagues and staying in a job as he did takes some doing.

The fact that we all remember him and his former players remember him with fondness in an uncompromising business is genuine testament that he truly was a legend.

Monday, 2 March 2015

No excuses for woeful City.

There was plenty to discuss on Saturday as the Imps, formerly so solid and entertaining at Sincil Bank, imploded once again at home so instead of the team matching the home performances away to put in a determined bid for the playoffs they have conspired to replicate their insipid away displays at the Bank and now are all but out of the play off race. Indeed, on Saturdays display it’s hard to see where a goal is going to come from let alone a win.

There was much talk of Woking’s first goal being well offside and a string of poor decisions from the officials not least in the referees handling of the spat beween Paul Farman and Woking player Payne where Payne perhaps should have gone off, probably Farman too for that matter. Needless to say the reprieved Payne scored a wonder free kick to compound our grief. Matters were balanced up in a wholly unacceptable way when Woking had a goal chalked off for offside despite City having a player on the line. It was that sort of a game.

Referees however do not win or lose matches whatever we the fans may think and, poor though they were the architects of City’s downfall were of course themselves and not the officials. Quite what has happened to the team lately is anyone’s guess. They have lost Newton and Miller was out on Saturday so that line of attack has been denied and replaced with no line of attack at all. Tomlinson and Sam-Yorke were on the bench and didn’t come on till later. I’m going to reserve judgement on Cranston, he did improve later on but my initial impression, untutored as it is, was to wonder how this player has found himself on the books of a League One club.

The journey home was in the company of the usual experts on BBC Radio Lincolnshire one of whom was calling for a “proper” manager to be appointed. This caller was obviously choosing to ignore the evidence of the last umpteen years when we have had a proper manager with a familiar lack of success. Manager Moyses did have the guts to come out and face the media but he could shed no light on City’s slump other than to wonder whether some players desire to succeed for City matched that of himself. Expect substantial changes come the summer.