In the blink of an eye, City moved from first gear to third in the pre-season preparation. The subdued, low-key affair against Norwich became a slightly more atmospheric run out against a Sheffield Wednesday side that failed to impress as much as the Canaries.
The were subtle changes everywhere, but it’s no secret that as more people file into the ground, everything just edges up a notch. There were two thousand or so extra fans, all of them supporting the team in blue, but it made the game feel more real. Gone was the flatness and the inevitability of the Norwich game, replaced by a little tension and excitement. Look, it wasn’t Forest Green at home in December, nothing quite tops that really, but it was a game of football, or closer to one at the very least.
What contributed to it was the large contingent of Wednesday fans who, as far as I’m aware, came into Lincoln and left again without causing too much trouble. After all of the arguing, social media flinching and concerns about security, the night went off well. City got money in the bag, a friendly that got closer to replicated a proper league match atmosphere and aside from a few disgruntled Selenity Stand fans, everyone went home relatively happy.
We went 4-4-2 again which surprised me somewhat. I don’t, for one second, believe Danny will start the season in that line-up. Any scouts coming to our games are not going to get anything of use this week, I virtually guarantee you. Our recruitment doesn’t suggest 4-4-2, we’ve not brought in as many wide players as last season. That alone suggested there was as much emphasis on fitness and patterns of play than anything, certainly the overall shape of the side.
Ellis Chapman impressed again, he was one of two who didn’t just catch my eye, but grabbed it out of the socket and demanded to be written about. The boy has a bit of everything, he’s quality on the ball, energetic in the extreme and he’s not afraid of the rough stuff. To see him close up, he’s a young boy, polite and friendly but seemingly unable to hurt a fly. On the field, he changes. I noticed his willingness to throw a tackle in the other night, last night even more so. I know his Dad reads this, but I sincerely hope this isn’t taken as sycophantic pandering, this lad has a future and I believe by the end of the season, our match day squad will feature him on a regular basis. If they’re good enough, they’re old enough. Simple.
Bruno Andrade was the other player who stood out in a good first half showing for me. I’ve championed Andrade since early last season and somehow his promise makes me feel like I actually know a bit about the game! It was hard for him to stand out against Norwich as the game descended into a round of Guess Who, but there was no mistaking what he’s going to bring to the side. He’s direct, willing not only to get on the ball but to carry it and to get a shot off from unlikely areas. That’s one concern I’ve had for a while, our reticence to shoot from range when the chance arrives. If the Portuguese gets on the ball next year, he’ll have a pop when he can.
I wonder if we saw a bit of a player’s outlook to pre-season in his showing. He was left on the bench for the first half of the first game and, to me, he looked as though he was one gear higher than most last night. In his mind, does he have a place to win? Did he believe the opening game indicated in some way Danny’s leaning towards the starting XI? Maybe, maybe not but one thing is absolutely certain; Bruno Andrade is going to be a big player for us this season.
I’m also told he was responsible for one of the most outlandish displays of confidence ever seen at Sincil Bank when he picked up the foam sprayed for a free kick and moved it several inches forward to a better spot. I didn’t see it (call of nature) but those who did are still smiling a little this morning.