The beginning of the end

I’ve always attributed our fall from grace not for failing to sign decent players in the 2006/07 transfer window, but when Peter Jackson let Freck go and failed to replace him. By the time I wrote this article that was to be published on the Lincoln City Mad website I had lost faith in Jackson completely.

I never actually published this. I was employed by the club at the time (albeit voluntarily) and if I’d spoken out against the bad things happening my job could have been on the line. However years on I feel pretty safe now, especially as I’m no longer volunteering full time there.

Imps In Turmoil

  • Frecklington left after losing faith
  • Patulea won’t play for the club again.

Fan were left wanting answers after yesterdays dismal 1-0 defeat at home to Rotherham, but their queries look set to remain unanswered. The Imps promotion hopes have been left in tatters after a run of form that has seen us win just twice in two months.

At Sincil Bank yesterday the players barely looked as if they’d met before, let alone played football together. Fans were chanting the name of leading scorer Adrian Patulea who was sat in the stands after being dropped from the squad. Now it appears that the popular Romanian may have played his last game for the club.

It has been suggested that Patulea has been dropped because of an ‘attitude problem’, and with his contract up in the summer it looks like he won’t be offered a new deal. Patulea has allegedly expressed concern at his lack of opportunities since City signed Anthony Elding on loan, and wants to know what exactly he’s done wrong. Imps fans feel the same way after seeing Adi’s spectacular fall from grace. Just a few short months ago he was in the Lincoln side, scoring a few goals and fast on his way to becoming a potential City legend. Fast forward to today and he cuts a forlorn figure sat in the stands further from the first team than he has ever been. His mood cannot have been helped by an awful City display that saw Elding turn in another ineffective and lethargic performance.

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Elding – Useless

 

The former Boston striker has lost the confidence of the fans after several powder puff displays, and the decision to take Horsfield off him off against Rotherham instead of Elding was met with a chorus of boo’s. Though Elding undoubtedly has talent he has rarely shown it in the red and white of Lincoln City, and the Imps attack was non-existent once again. Indeed Elding only really seemed interested if the ball was played within half a yard of him, and didn’t want to run for the cause. It would seem Patulea covers more ground walking to the burger bar and back in the stands than Elding does for a whole ninety minutes on the field. Fans are asking ‘What exactly has Adi done wrong?’

However this is just one issue currently leaving City fans wondering what happened to the bold promises of pre season. Imps favourite Lee Frecklington has gone out on loan and is unlikely to return from Peterborough. The midfield now consists of a fading Scott Kerr and the enigma that is Stefan Oakes. Oakes arrived with a fanfare and to widespread joy as Imps fans were left salivating at the potential offered. Now with promotion dreams in tatters Oakes typifies everything that is bad about the City team. He seems unmotivated, lazy and unable to grasp the basics of a game of football. It’s galling to think in these tough financial times that it probably takes a hundred Imps fans all paying full admission price to cover Oakes wages for ninety minutes.

The other ‘big’ signings of the summer have almost all failed to impress. David Graham and Kevin Gall left without a goal between them. Frank Sinclair is a shadow of his former self, lacking any real pace and failing to organise a lacklustre defence. Aaron Brown has looked lively in the wide left position, but he was signed as a potential left back! Brown certainly appears to be a player who could do a job for City, but is in and out of the side and doesn’t currently seem able to put a decent ball into the area for the forwards to attack. That said its not as if the forwards are likely to attack the ball. Geoff Horsfield is a decent player clearly still regaining full fitness, and as covered Anthony Elding doesn’t look like he’ll ever score another City goal, nor does he look like he wants to.

Janos Kovacs certainly has potential, but is prone to errors and often cannot cope against pacy forwards. In a battle with a big forward, like Drewe Broughton on Saturday, Janos can hold his own. However a quick forward with skill will beat him every time.

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Top keeper – Burch

 

From the magnificent seven signed in the summer only Rob Burch has proven he has the desire to succeed and the ability to match, pulling of several great saves. His defence let him down time and time again, and there are only so many shots a decent keeper can save before something gives. However Burch looked frustrated on Saturday and often resorted to hitting the ball long towards a vacant Elding.

Even those hailed as stars of the future have struggled this season. Martin Pembleton is rumoured to be thinking of quitting the game after becoming disillusioned at not being given a chance in the advanced midfield role vacated by Freck. As for Gary King, he’s out on loan at Boston looking like he wants to be there as much as Anthony Elding wants to be at Sincil Bank.

What of Lee Frecklington? The midfielders move came as a shock to everyone at the Bank, especially coming after deadline day leaving only a loan signing as possible cover. However rumours of the reason Frecklington left have been circulating message boards and bars across Lincoln.

Its alleged that Freck was unhappy at Peter Jackson’s decision to single him out for stinging criticism after giving the ball away in the build up to a Luton goal in the 3-2 reverse at Kenilworth Road over Christmas. Freck had apparently also become disillusioned at the lack of direction on the field, allegedly stating that the players often didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing on the pitch. Motivational talk will only get a side so far, and eventually tactical ability needs to be used. However that didn’t come and it was with great reluctance that Freck decided to move to Peterborough despite having recently signed a new deal at Lincoln.

Even the Imps most consistent performer this season, Lee Beevers is thought to be considering his future. Lee has excelled at full back this season, and often plays as if his life depends on it. He’s settled in Lincoln and wants nothing more than a new deal. However the terms being offered are currently not acceptable, and he could be leaving in the summer if things are not sorted out. Beevers would be missed if he were to leave as he plays with heart, passion and determination.

pat
You loved him too, right?

 

So where does this leaves Lincoln? It certainly leaves us in League Two next season, possibly without Beevers and Patulea as well as Dany N’Guessan who will almost certainly leave on a Bosman in the summer. Given the transfer policy over the last twelve months it would take something special to easily replace those players, and other leading first team members like Paul Green and Rob Burch could find themselves in a scrap to preserve their league status.

There are very worrying times ahead for Imps fans as the team lurch towards the end of the season with no purpose or direction. Only time will tell if the next crucial spell of five games that we have to win will be able to restore the fans faith that has recently been tested to the absolute limit.

LCM hopes to see a return to the starting line up for Adrian Patulea alongside Geoff Horsfield, with Aaron Brown and DNG providing service from the wings. Shane Clarke should join Scott Kerr in the centre of the park, and the youngster Moses Swaibu should be given a start alongside Janos at the back. However if anything remotely connected to dignity is to be salvaged from the season then Elding needs to be sent back to Crewe and an attacking midfielder who is prepared to work, and an experienced centre back who can organise a defence need to be brought in.