There’s been a few bits and bobs mentioned this last week, none of them sufficient for a full blog, but as it’s raining and I’ve escaped doing the lawn / hedges / borders, I thought I’d look back and pick up a few of the ‘headlines’.
First up, friendlies. It was announced this week that Oxford United will be visiting Sincil Bank on Tuesday 25th of July. It’s a testing friendly, Oxford were Checkatrade Trophy finalists last season and they’re an established League One side. Clearly this is one of the games that is intended to give us a measure of ‘where we are’. They will be the fist of two League One teams visiting Sincil Bank, Jon Whitney is bringing his Walsall side on Saturday 29th of July. These will be two tough matches, both designed to get us competitive before the curtain raises on the new season.
So far the only other confirmed friendly is July 15th, a trip to the Northolme awaits us in the County Cup. There will be more games unveiled, that much is assured. Danny operated the ‘500’ system last time out, trying to give as many players 500 minutes of pre-season football as he could.
If I were to speculate on what was to come, expect something out of the ordinary to be announced, maybe a bit of a spectacle away from home is in the offing. I also wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t have a headline home friendly, maybe someone from the top two divisions. Doubtless there will be a couple of low-key non-league visits too, I’m sure we’ll play Lincoln United at some point, even if it is a blend of trialists and younger players.
Next up, Taylor Miles signed for Hemel Hempstead in the Conference South. Taylor was desperately unlucky last season, he clearly started in the managers plans after coming on against Woking, but that broken ankle set him back too much to challenge for a spot. His loan spell at Boston wasn’t outstanding, but he was well received back at Concord Rangers towards the end of the season.
I think as a young player a fair way from home, things were stacked up against Taylor as soon as his ankle went. He is clearly a talented boy, Danny thought highly enough of him to bring him to the club from Braintree. Hemel Hempstead were challenging at the right end of the Conference South last season, and if Taylor breaks into the side I can see him rising again from that level. It possibly isn’t the last you’ve heard of him.
Jack Muldoon admitted he had a big decision to make about his future. He confirmed ambitious AFC Fylde had spoken to him and offered a good contract, and he also alluded to the fact he needed to be playing first team football next season. His Lincolnshire Live interview read like the opening act of a goodbye programme I think, expressing his love for City and the fans but also speculating openly on his future.
I like Jack for his openness, he’s been the same the entire time he’s been with us. I do wonder how many chances he’ll get in the first team last season, perhaps a move back to the National League is best for him. That said, Fylde have Danny Rowe and James Hardy up front, would he be a starter there? Maybe they’d utilise him out wide, I know Danny looks upon him as a centre forward, but I think Jack looks much more comfortable on the wing.
Whatever he decides, like Terry Hawkridge, there would be no animosity or ill-feeling towards Jack. He’s been a good servant to the club, he’s an honest and hard-working pro and he’s never let the club down through a lack of effort or poor attitude.
There was an interesting piece on the Lincolnshire Live website in the middle of last week, on the back of ‘missing out’ on Jordan Williams. Rochdale had valued Williams higher than we had, and subsequently he went to Spotland in League One rather than join us. Firstly, it is only through the beauty of social media we even know who targets are these days. For many years we were left with the scraps of news the local paper fed us, and the rhetoric coming out of the club. Now, thanks to the internet, we have immediate access to local papers across the country, and every player we speak to has an agent keen to drum up more interest. Sometimes that speculation is correct (Williams), and other times it is not (Alabi). That is football these days.
Danny made it very clear that we won’t be drawn into a bidding war, and it’s a very similar message to the one we got as Theo Robinson left the club. Danny treats the club’s money as if it were his own, and that is refreshing to a point. I think some people resent hearing about working within a budget after the season we just had, money coming in from a fantastic cup run and the boost that 5,000 season tickets will give us. We do have to trust in Danny and Nicky’s judgement though, they led us back to the Football League using the same philosophy they’re employing now, and we are still two months from the start of the season.
Danny did admit that he is looking for a goalkeeper, up to three defenders, one or two central midfielders, three wide men and three forwards. When I looked at the signings I thought we needed last week, I picked out a keeper, four defenders (before Howe signed), two central midfielders, three wide players and two centre forwards. Danny also admitted some of those positions would be filled by loan players, something else I speculated on.
It was nice to get that right, especially after being wide of the mark with the James Alabi stuff!
A word on being linked with players. I will only specifically mention us ‘in the hunt’ for players if I see an article elsewhere mentioning it first. I do hear rumours and whispers all the time, but I won’t write about anything that isn’t substantiated elsewhere. Now, the authenticity of the other articles may not be right, but I refuse to deliberately mislead or make stuff up.
I do speculate on players who might fit, but if this is the case I am usually clear on the fact it is speculation. Like Danny said on the radio, we have no matches to report on during the close season, so we have to find something to write about!
Photo’s by Graham Burrell, except Jordan Williams.
If you’d like to order my latest book, a Season in Blogs, charting the excellent National League winning season, there are two ways to do it. Due to several people who have ordered not yet having paid, I have some copies left here to sign and send out.
I am donating money to the Future Imps Fund for every copy sold in pre-season, so in buyingthis you won’t just be funding me.
It is available through Amazon here and for every sale through this medium I will be donating £1 to the Future Imps fund.
Direct from me
You can also order through me directly and get a signed copy. To do that please email email@example.com with your address, who you’d like it signing to and your preferred payment method. I can accept PayPal, cheque or bank transfer. I’ll reply within 24 hours with confirmation and to collect payment. They’re £13.99 each, plus £4 postage and packaging, and £2 of the profit goes to the Future Imps Fund.
If you haven’t got a copy of the Who’s who of Lincoln City 1993-2016, it is still available through Amazon here.