So the search for a new manager will start while Chris still has games left to contest Yesterday we were clicking on Facebook likes offering support and goodwill to Chris. Today the posts are switched to those about who we want as the new manager. Like todays news is tomorrows chip papers, the chatter on social media soon moves on. Unless you’re on Banter, then it just goes around in circles until someone blocks Duncan.
I’ve thought long and hard about what I might like to happen and who I might like to see in charge and have come up with a list of possibilities as I see them.
Firstly the club could offer Chris the position on a proper full time contract for a year. I appreciate it’s unlikely, but maybe an additional wage would tempt Chris to delegate some of his company responsibilities and focus on the club. I understand the reasons for leaving and wouldn’t want to start a cringeworthy campaign if it caused distress but maybe a proper job offer would be tempting? The very best thing now for Lincoln City is continuity and that could only fully be achieved if Chris were to do a U-turn. I fully respect his decision of course, but I hear that this is one of the tightest dressing rooms some players have ever been in, and Chris is responsible for that. Anyway this isn’t about me gushing over CM again, so on with the other choices.
If his decision stands then for me the best option is David Preece. I’ve read comments that this would be a poor choice given his experience, but in actual fact it makes perfect sense. I personally have been very impressed with the former Aberdeen player who is an articulate and witty man but with a good level of intelligence and expression. I think he’s been an influential figure around the squad while Chris has been there. I don’t know if it’s his desire to progress to management though and despite the chatter he’s remained quiet on the subject.
If it’s tactically nous we want then a suggestion by John Pakey in the Echo makes sense, Simon Clark. He was another one that really impressed me in his spell at the club with his ideas about the game. He’s currently first team coach at Charlton, and if he’s looking to get into management then he’d be an obvious contender given Bob’s intention to go for up and coming.
Of course up and coming didn’t serve us well with Chris Sutton, and I think the lesson learned there is to make a choice from managers who understand the game at this level. Neil Warnock is a great Championship manager, but he doesn’t cut it in the top flight. Similarly talk of Ronnie Moore is worrying me. He’s got lots of managerial experience, but at this level he is unproven and could have the same impact Sutton had.
Billy Heath and Simon Weaver have both been mentioned at North Ferriby and Harrogate respectively. There’s equal merit to both. Weaver obviously has connections with the club, but his father is involved with North Ferriby. That said his father is the owner of Weaver Construction and may switch his money from Harrogate to here? Billy Heath has had a bit of money to spend but has built quite a side at North Ferriby. Both would be interesting appointments. Let’s not forget managers like Martin O’Neill worked their way up from the league below us, through our league and onwards.
There’s also mention of Grimsby Town manager Paul Hurst, should our fishy foes fail to get promoted this year. Now I know he’s had success of sorts with Grimsby but his days could be numbered if they don’t make it this season. He’s got Wembley experience and knows the league inside out. However I can’t help but think of Alan Buckley when I consider Hurst. Buckley was all things great up there, but put him in a Lincoln tracksuit and the magic died. For me Hurst is a none starter.
There’s all sorts of other people being mentioned, and you know that a pairing of Steve Thompson and Mick Harford will be somewhere about. I can honestly say that I believe those two could have kept Chris Suttons team up after he left had they been appointed and I always championed their cause as Mick was a legend in my family as a kid. However I think that bus has been missed and sadly there isn’t another one due along. That’s not a slur on the two as I think they’d do an alright job, but I know how unpopular the decision would be with sections of the support. Steve’s profile on the radio doesn’t do his cause any favours as his commentary has made many Imps fans irate, but he does actually know a lot about the game. I know if there’s any negative Facebook comments on this blog later, the subject will undoubtedly be Steve Thompson!
A couple of other names that have cropped up are both managers in our league, Gary Mills and Danny Cowley. Both have done good jobs this season with Braintree and Wrexham and know the league well. However I don’t see either of them upping sticks and coming to Lincoln City. Bob wants to hold talks before the season is over, and why would Cowley who is on the verge of the Football League want to enter talks to stay in this league? The same goes for Gary Mills. We have to be realistic with the level of investment we’ve received as well. I keep hearing about Clive Nates and his money, but in essence that amount is to ensure the stability of the club and boost key areas, not for trying to buy simply another manager. We need to look for someone who has the motivation to come here aside from the wage packet. Bob is quite right in that respect, young or up and coming with a drive and desire to match that which has been lost.
There will be a name mentioned that is completely out of leftfield as well. Chris Sutton wasn’t on anyone’s lips when he arrived and no doubt someone will be staying under the social media radar ready to enter the frame at the last second. People will be spotting Gary Brabin at The Bentley, or a guy they know who works down the Bank just saw Gareth Ainsworth leaving with a red and white scarf in his hands.
I’m not sure I really like all the talk of who will replace Chris. Once upon a time I was manager of a Builders Merchant and I accepted a job elsewhere. I stayed on for four weeks working at my depot whilst speculation raged around me about who would replace me. It was unsettling for me and for the staff at the depot. I know my bosses had to replace me, but being there while the rumours and speculation started wasn’t healthy. I was even asked about who best to replace me and it was unusual how empty and unsatisfying that felt. For me I feel like we’re contributing by openly speculating but I guess it’s the nature of life isn’t it? After all if I didn’t speculate I wouldn’t have anything to write, and that means I’d be sat on the sofa playing FIFA.
Whoever come in this is an unsettling time for fans and players alike. Over the years the club has become fragile with manager after manager taking away a little piece of what Keith Alexander had built up. When Chris took over we were a broken husk of a club staring down the barrel of financial oblivion. I know many people have been involved in the revival but ultimately a manager is responsible for the most precious of all things, the end product we pay to watch. If he gets it wrong fans don’t go to games and we go backwards. Right now we do not know which direction our club will be heading in, and because we all have different views on who should and shouldn’t take over it does mean when a decision is made inevitably some people will not be immediately happy.
So whether its David Preece, Danny Cowley or Steve Thompson we all need to get behind the manager and make this an even better football club, to continue the upturn in our fortunes and to get out of this football league exile. Remember I thought Keith Alexander and Chris Moyses were the cheapest options at the time, and both won me over one way or another. It isn’t necessarily the candidate who looks best on paper that turns out the strongest.