Despite the tough start to the season, Imps keeper Paul Farman was in a relaxed mood in this afternoon’s press conference.
City host Carlisle on Saturday, a side that contested last year’s play-off semi-final, and despite the unfavourable run of results Farman was upbeat. There’s no panic in the camp, and why would there be? City are unbeaten at Sincil Bank since September (in competitive games), and have competed toe to toe with two of the finest sides from last year’s League Two. The focus seems to be on improving, both individually and as a unit.
“You come in every day and want to better yourself, the gaffer has instilled that in us. I would have loved to have worked with someone like the gaffer earlier in my career, I could have been in a completely different place now. I’m just really enjoying it at the minute.”
There will be a bumper crowd at the Bank on Saturday, as there will be every Saturday, and Farms was keen to talk about how much that atmosphere is appreciated.
“I have fun (with big crowds), the lads really appreciated it. When you’re coming out of the tunnel it’s great to see the stands full and hear the 617 boys singing.”
Of course, fans don’t win games and City will be looking for a clean sheet in order to kick-start the season but the step-up in level has perhaps taken many by surprise.
“I think a lot more teams do their research now, trying to stop our strengths. It’s understandable, we do it, so you have to expect people to do it to us. It’s frustrating but there’s always a way around it … I probably said last year that there wasn’t a such big jump from the National League, but I think there is.”
Farms had spoken on several occasions about his desire to play league football with Lincoln, and after plying his trade around the non-league scene he’s just delighted to be a Football League player.
“I know it’s only the name of a league at the end of the day, but there’s a bit more exposure and it’s just nice to be able to say it.”
Despite the lack of clean sheets the defence hasn’t looked bad at all given the lack of fit full-backs just a week before the season kicked off. Throw in an injury to captain Luke Waterfall and I think they’ve performed admirably under pressure. Farms was keen to praise the players in front of him.
“We want to carry on as we did last year. It’s about getting the finer details right and your understanding with players, there’s been a bit of an advantage for me and the centre halves. Neal Eardley has come in, he’s got cultured feet with his balls down the line similar to Sam. He’s very experienced, he’s a very old-looking 28-year old! His first game was Peterborough at home and he stood out, he’s done really well … Luke was unbelievable last year alongside Raggs, his injury came at an awkward time in pre-season. He’s managed to do his work when he hasn’t been playing games to get back in.”
Looking ahead to Carlisle, he recalled a former Imp that has already grabbed two goals this season.
“I played with Tom, he played right back and centre half. He scores goals now and then, he worked hard and he got his move. I think every team is different in this league, and everybody beats everybody. They (Carlisle) are well thought of in this league.”
One aspect of Farms game that seems to be noted is his giant kicks. Sometimes the crowd cry for quick throw-outs or swifter distribution, but with his kick being such a weapon, Paul spoke of managing his distribution.
“I think how the game has moved on over the last few years, keepers are becoming play makers. It is nice to start an attack, maybe even get a cheeky assist every now and again. You have to play the moment though, that’s what the gaffer always says. You’re playing the game, not the crowd and that’s what I’ve tried to bring into my game last year and carrying on into this year.”
Paul was typically relaxed, joking around with my incredibly cheap looking Dictaphone before proceedings and sharing jokes with Jimmy Walker and the assembled crowd throughout. He’s a rich and interesting personality, a player that is still keen to learn and be the best he can be. There’s no resentment at having stiff competition in Josh Vickers either. Josh had a blinding game against Rotherham, and he’ll be pushing hard for a league start.
“It’s really good, it’s healthy competition. We had a session the other day and we said how we learn stuff from other people. It’s a bit different as a keeper, you’re working and training with him and he’s after your spot. Every keeper wants to be number one, no keeper is happy sat on the bench but it’s healthy competition. Josh is a great lad, he’s never down, he always smiling and he’s a happy lad. I’m not the quietest lad in training either so we get on, especially with Jimmy as well!”
Competition for places will keep all players on their toes, but whereas last season Farms played through every niggle and knock, that won’t be the case this season. It was nice to see the players relaxed and joking despite the tough start, two points could quite easily have been four or seven but for the rub of the green. We haven’t seen keeping errors that have been punished, we haven’t been outplayed and it’s clear there is a steely focus and belief within the camp.
Photos by Graham Burrell