Since Danny Cowley first came to the club there’s been lots of rhetoric about adding to the group, about building on what was already here. He’s been keen to applaud the work done by Chris Moyses and the quality of player he’s been left with. However much like a real government he’s actually been implementing his own plan all along, saying one thing but doing something very different.
There is no negativity to this article by the way. Chris Moyses left the whole club in a much stronger position than before he came. He galvanised fans (for a while) and played a key part in restoring trust and belief in the clubs structure. Before he took over as manager there were legal challenges, slander and rumours of dubious intentions surrounding the holding company. The relationships between fans, club and Trust was more like a battlefield than a picnic in the park. He came along and took over the playing side which seemed to help the city fall back in love with the club, and vice versa.
However we didn’t succeed on the pitch and some fans were critical when DC first talked about the squads strength. We’d finished mid table and the crux of the squad was remaining. Some said it’d only take a couple of new faces to get us where we needed to be. We didn’t need wholesale revolution, more a continuation of the norm. I spoke along those very lines on this blog, and I believed DC when he said he would be only adding value where he could. It turns out that ‘where he could’ actually meant ‘in every department’.
The euphoria of securing DC and his brother has masked what has been a quite swift and wholesale revolution, with a once unpopular decision being almost missed by fans blinded by the new men and their battle cries. I’m one of them. I’ll tell you why.
I let the departure of Grant Brown pass without so much as a blog thanking him for his many years of service. Our record appearance holder, Mr Lincoln City was disposed of quietly and without pomp or tribute. He slipped out of the door and moved on to pastures new. Usually when a club legend departs it’s met with a wall of derision. Not here. Same when popular physio Kev Oxby left. Nothing more than a few words from well wishers on the internet. If CM had made those decisions he’d be sacrificed at the stake.
The back room cull was quick, as were the raft of new faces. Now we may not really see any changes with these people coming in, but it would be a big change for the players. One minute they’re surrounded by familiar faces and the next everyone is gone and a new set of people are in. The whole culture and demographic of the changing room would instantly change. As fans we sat by and paid little attention. Not when we were chasing Alex Woodyard. Why would we really care who was training our goalkeeper?
First Clive Nates and then Ian Reeve snuck onto the board as our top table brought in more experience and more money men. They’re not multi millionaire oil sheiks but they’ve added to the stability we’ve seen growing for a while now. Fans trust people who put their money where their mouth is, and Clive did just that. Ian didn’t really seem to come from anywhere, and yet suddenly he’s boosting the crowd funder. Silently and slowly things change more. Peoples trust grew and grew.
So the back room team depart and we start adding players to the roster. Arguably we added new first team players at left back, centre back, midfield, left wing and striker. So that’s five as a minimum with at least two subs as well. That’s almost 50% of the team. Or if you count the back room boys as well perhaps closer to 70% new faces? That’s quite a change. In fact it could be classed as a takeover.
In fact from CM’s days I could only think that Rhead, Muldoon, McCombe, Wood and Farman will be assured a start. I’d wager Raggett and Habergham will complete the defence, Woodyard definitely the midfield and Arnold and Marriott will probably be up front, leaving Power or Miles to fight out the last midfield place. It’s not a bad spot to be in is it, whether it’s the bulk of last years squad or predominately new faces.
I’m not criticising CM at all here, he brought good players to this squad who did a decent job last year and will do again. However DC has cleverly acknowledged what occurred last season whilst also implementing his very own philosophy and culture. Keeping Matt Rhead shows that they’re not dismantling a side, merely building upon one. I just feel that the size of the building job they’ve done might have been under stated.
They have done exactly what they said they would though when they said they’ll only add value where they can, because they’ve added value with each and every signing. Although Howe and Waterfall did alright last season, they have been at least matched by Sean Raggett and almost certainly bettered. Raggett is a big lad and a domineering defender who fought Matt Rhead hard twice last season. I imagine he’ll play alongside Jamie McCombe giving us real height across the back for the first time in ages. In pre season there’s been a lot of emphasis on getting to the second ball and against Crewe it really showed, and you get far more second balls to contest when your two centre halves are really big lads. They nod it out and it’s there to contest, cue Alex Woodyard.
There’s another type of player we haven’t had in a few seasons. Woodyard will play that role just in front of the defence, making the pass that leads to the pass for a chance. He’ll be contesting those second balls, and winning some fresh from his opponents as well. He’ll be looking to get the ball down to someone like Bradley Wood, or Sam Habergham.
In Sam we’ve completed a great pair of full backs for the first time in a decade. Not since Bimmo and Bailey have we had such quality in the wide area, and in left footed Sam we’ve found a proper jewel. Left footed players are rare enough in the upper reaches of the football world, so to get someone at this level with his ability is a real coup. He’s another great added value player.
Keeping Matt Rhead today was like completing a new signing, and anyone doubting his ability should look at the rest of the summer recruitment to know we’re not signing mugs. He hasn’t stayed here for any other reason than the management wanted what he brings to the table, and that is proof enough for me that he’s an asset. Last season if Hearn had stayed fit we’d have finished higher, so this season we have the luxury of two goal scorers in Margetts and Marriott. One will have to start on the bench, and if one gets injured or has his head turned by Paul Cox we’ll have a good back up Now think back to Craig Read and Nathan Blissett. Seems a long while ago doesn’t it?
So the silent revolution is nearly complete and we look forward to our first real battle against Woking on Saturday. All the posturing and confidence could be deflated by 5pm, or we could be one step further on in our quest to get promoted. One thing is for sure though, this is the best squad we’ve had in a decade, and probably the best summer of recruitment I can ever remember as an Imps fan.
I’d like to think although this is Cowleys Campaign that the overall revolution is more Bobs Brigade, and that it started before DC came to town. I’d like to think it started when he defied critics, armchair pundits and me by appointing Chris Moyses to start a clear out and return us to a strong shell of a club to be built upon. However we’re starting a new chapter now, Cowleys Crusade and I for one am hooked.