I’ve been an advocate of midfielder Tom Champion. I saw him play for Cambridge whilst I lived down there and he was instrumental in all the good things that happened at that club. He was big and strong with a ferocious tackle and a never-say-die attitude. I was delighted when he signed although I was surprised he went straight into the side against Solihull. That said I have been an outspoken staunch supporter of the big midfielder.
Comments reported in local media today suggest that perhaps I am now alone in my thoughts, and that even the manager has held his hands up to making a mistake. It is often easy to misconstrue comments, but Danny did seem to be very clear when speaking about the return to the side of Lee Beevers.
“When Lee came out of the team it was nothing to do with the way he was playing because he was playing really well. We were just looking to resolve the midfielder situation. But with regards to recruitment and team selection you don’t always get it right as a manager.”
Does he mean he got dropping Beevers wrong? If so it does seem to indicate that it was Champion that he now feels was a mistake because I’m 100% convinced he had no intentions of dropping Bradley Wood. Interestingly he continued.
“You just have to get it right more often than not and I think we’ve done that with the players we’ve brought in….. but you don’t always get it right and when you don’t you have to be man enough to accept responsibility and act on it”
Those comments certainly seem to indicate that he has had a change of heart over the inclusion of Champion, and with Beevers and Wood set to start at Wrexham tonight I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see Tom Champion in a Lincoln shirt again. I stand by my view that it would be a shame as he has plenty to offer, but perhaps that wasn’t at the expense of Beevers.
If there is a midfield problem it does still give Danny a selection headache though. I feel we lack the attacking midfielder in the Alan Power mould who can get up and support the two forwards. Alex Woodyard does a lot of running and always wants the ball which is exactly the same as Bradley Wood and I’m not sure if both can be accommodated in our midfield. If Champion and Woodyard were too similar then Wood and Woodyard have to be as well.
Lee Beevers has perhaps been the biggest revelation since Danny and Nicky came to the club. Towards the end of last season I thought he looked cumbersome and lethargic, a shadow of the player he once was. Since he has switched to his favoured right back though he has looked far more assured and comfortable and has fully lived up to his status as a senior professional. I genuinely thought his days would be numbered but football is a game all about performances and whilst he keeps turning them in he’ll hopefully keep his place in the side. Even the pacey Imps target Simeon Akinola didn’t cause him much trouble on Saturday, and if anything still bothers me about Beevers it is his pace.
Whether we’ve seen the last of Tom Champion or not remains to be seen, but if the player only trains here once a week I can’t see him wanting to spend the day after warming the bench when he could be doing the same at Barnet. I got the impression he came here for game time and I am always critical of loan players being used excessively when they have their own agenda. Under Sutton, Tilson and Holdsworth we saw far too many sort term fixes brought in, and that trend has only been reversed under Chris Moyses and now Danny Cowley. I like Macauley Bonne but I feel we would benefit far more by having a striker that we own to call upon. Let’s hope that things start to move forward with Akinola.
I do wonder if the change of heart over Champion has anything to do with Taylor Miles nearing fitness again? I understand that the management have high hopes for Miles and he would play a more advanced midfield role to Wood and Woodyard. If that was the case though would it be Wood or Beevers who ultimately lost their place? I can’t see Bradley Wood dropping out of the side under any circumstances other than a suspension, and presently it doesn’t seem like Lee Beevers will either. If that’s the case then how do we solve the ‘midfield problem’ that Danny alludes to?
These selection headaches must be bitter sweet for the managers. Having such problems means we have a really competitive squad, but it also means they must work hard to keep players happy. Man management is as important as tactics and team selection, and I wonder if Tom Champion coming in had more of an effect on the man management than it did on the tactics?
One thing the Imps must work hard on is breaking down a resolute and dogged Wrexham side tonight. They’re unbeaten at home this campaign and have kept nine clean sheets from 13 going back to last season. Despite the precarious position of manager Gary Mills they’re not going to roll over and have their bellies tickled tonight and we will have to ask more questions than we did of Braintree on Saturday. Although Wrexham is never an easy place to go we have won two of our last four trips there, and with them playing a slick and open passing game it could suit our style of play.
Whatever happens this evening it is important for City to build up another run of form if we are going to stay in touch with the front runners, a position I feel we are more than capable of aspiring to, with or without Tom Champion.