One of the set-backs with the modern world is the desperate clamour for stories, the need for an angle to every little occurrence. You see it in the top flight where a West Brom v Stoke clash is billed as ‘Super Sunday’.
You see it on my site sometimes when rumours of Matty Fryatt being at the ground are explored and discussed. Tonight you’ve maybe heard it on BBC Radio Lincolnshire where James Williams quizzed Steve Thompson about the Imps lack of goals, asking how Danny goes about solving the problem. There has to be an angle, no longer can a match just be chalked off and moved on from. There has to be analysis, reports and dissection. People will discuss it on social media and if I didn’t blog about it I’d be accused of being a club stooge, happy to build up the positives but glossing over the negatives. However, what do you really glean from a match like today?
Danny admits himself we don’t score enough from open play, but is it a problem, a real bona-fide problem? A problem, by definition, is a matter or situation regarded as harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome. Is the lack of open play goals directly harmful? Well, we’re tenth and just two points off the play-offs. If this was May then maybe it could be perceived as such, but I’m not aware of anyone missing out on the play-offs in October. Okay, if we scored more from open play we might be a bit higher, but is it directly harmful? Is sitting tenth after 15 games a situation that needs rectifying? No, not given the fact the twelve months ago we’d just played Eastleigh and had Guiseley and Southport on the fixture list.
I appreciate we all need subjects to discuss, I’m usually happy to talk about things that I think need to be tweaked and changed, but the situation we find ourselves in isn’t straightforward. We can’t just go out and get a new player thanks to the League rules, we have to make do with what is in our squad. If we’d drawn 0-0 today we’d be six unbeaten, would there have ben questions asked over the lack of goals in that instance?
In every press conference, every post-match interview and doubtless every casual conversation he has, Danny Cowley is asked if we’re looking to bring someone in to address the problem. He could almost have a card in his pocket he pulls out whenever asked with he words ‘we’re always looking’ written on it. In truth, what can he do? How many good quality, fully fit professional footballer’s do you think are out there just waiting to be picked up?
For whatever reason we missed out on targets in the summer. We made some really good signings, the talent in our squad is as good as it has been for many years, but we’re a work in progress. We’ve only been a Football League club for fifteen games, we’ve only known we were returning to the league for six months. The whole club has to be adjusted, tweaking and improved, from top to bottom. Change doesn’t happen overnight and unfortunately we’re going to come up short at certain times. The last six matches prove we’re not far away and yet we still have so much work to do throughout the club. The new CEO coming in was the start of the revolution, he is identifying problems and issues and sorting them out. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was Lincoln City Football Club. We’ve been building for at least five years now, my suspicion is we’ll be building for some time yet.
There’s little point in lamenting the defeat today although I appreciate that won’t be much comfort to those who travelled. I did call this as a game we were likely to struggle in, the conditions accentuated that somewhat and whilst they’re the same for both teams they do make planning a strategy very hard. Listening to Elliott Whitehouse’s interview I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him, he gets his first team chance on a day where the weather makes it very hard for midfielders to have any impact on the game. It really was the stereotypical ‘game of two halves’, they throw everything at us in the first forty-five and we reciprocate in the second period. By all accounts their keeper has pulled off a word-class save to deny Jordan Maguire-Drew, a player that seems to be growing in confidence (pictured top against Chesterfield). That is football, you win some you should lose and you lose some you should win. Today we lost one perhaps we could have drawn. Let’s take a positive, if JMD comes home with a little more confidence and self-belief that has to be a god thing. There’s a cracking player in our squad that we’ve barely seen a glimpse of at present.
The key thing is for everyone sat in front of their keyboards tonight is to retain some perspective. Any perceived problems with the current squad are not detrimental to everything we are trying to achieve, they’re not bringing the very future of the club into question, nor our ability to move forward. Even with a threadbare squad, even without lots of goals from open play, we’re competing at the right end of the table. Nobody, not Luton, Exeter nor Cheltenham, have outplayed us. Nobody has looked a cut-above when we’ve been 11 v 11 and maybe as a fan base we need to retain some perspective and perhaps manage our own expectations a bit.
So far I’ve only seen one idiotic comment, something along the lines of ‘sort it out Danny’, which is heartening. There isn’t a lot to be angry about, days like today do not need lots of analysis or opinion. It was a game of football in which everything went out of the window; form, preparation and tactical approach. The conditions dictated the style and quality and both teams did what they could to manage. Cheltenham did it better than us but there’s no need to panic, criticise nor get down-hearted. I hate the phrase ‘we go again’, but that is exactly what happens. Some of us will be there to watch Elliott, Matt Rhead and Jordan Maguire-Drew start on Tuesday night and hopefully stake a place for a first-team return, others will prefer to wait until next Saturday due to their politics. Whichever you choose to do, neither is right and neither is wrong.
What would be wrong is losing sight of the bigger picture after a 1-0 defeat at Cheltenham, falling for the angle the media choose to put on the result, they have to do something with it otherwise what would they broadcast and report? This type of shoulder-shrugging blog is fine on an indie football site like mine, but it won’t wash with the BBC or Trinity Mirror, they needs clicks and listeners.
There isn’t a wholesale issue to address nor is there a crisis that needs averting. If the players keep doing what they’re doing, applying themselves in the right manner and staying on method then the goals will come, these players are good enough to make sure that happens.
The lads just have to dust themselves down and glean whatever developmental points they can from the performance. We, fans and pundits alike, would be best advised to simply chalk this one-off as a bad day at the office and look ahead to the real newsworthy stories, which I confidently predict will be either boycotts or awful stewarding. Those are subjects that we can get our teeth into, certainly ones more worthy of angry keyboard tapping than today’s game.