The criticism of the Imps pre-season was that we hadn’t scored enough goals so, right on cue, we hit Boston United for four.
Fresh from our challenging games against Norwich and Blackburn and well prepared after not sparking a 22-man brawl against Sheffield Wednesday, City showed what threat we will carry against opposition we should be beating well. Just like turning on a tap, City turned on the style.
It wasn’t a full-strength side, but we still put together some slick moves to easily dismiss the ex-Imps XI wearing amber and black. Okay, maybe that’s pushing it a little, but Nathan, Jonny Margetts and Adam Marriott all featured against a side they’d fired to National League glory 14 months ago. How times change.
The big news was Shay McCartan, his superb goal and his likeness to an Imp of old. Few will remember Ben Tomlinson fondly, purely because of when he played, but I thought McCartan had shades of Tomlinson about him. He’s not the biggest but he played with that cockiness that made Tomlinson a hero for a brief time. Whether it’s a friendly, Braintree away or a home game at the Bank, a debut goal will always help endear you to fans and McCartan has given Danny a real selection headache up top.
There’s so many options it is unreal. We could go all out, 4-3-3 and play Akinde, Green and McCartan. That might frighten the bejesus out of other sides, but it is a bit too gung-ho for Danny. The likelihood is a 4-4-2, meaning one of those three misses out. As for the big man, he’s going to be a late sub in most matches but his starts will rapidly diminish. He still has a big part to play though.
The big shout is playing Akinde and McCartan, vastly unfair on our leading scorer and arguably hardest worker from last season, Matt Green. From having a forward line devoid of real talent, we’ve suddenly got an embarrassment of riches going forward.
I was delighted to see McCartan arrive, I know Danny has been an admirer for a while and had circumstances been different doubtless he would have been an Imp in January. He stole the headlines last night, but that does a huge injustice to the player I still feel is the signing of the summer: Bruno Andrade (pictured top courtesy of Graham Burrell).
Andrade hit two last night but his constant running, ability on the ball and confidence in his passing sets him apart from anything we’ve had in recent years. There was a split opinion when Elliott left, but honestly who would you rather have playing behind the front two? An uncomplicated grafter like Elliott, or a proper baller, a man with pace, tricks and an eye for the spectacular?
Bruno Andrade hit 22 goals last season and got 15 assists and no matter what anyone tells you, the standard in the National league isn’t that far behind ours. there’s a clear step, that I grant you, but Andrade owned the National League and he could easily have found himself playing for Portsmouth or another League One side. I know we forked out for Akinde, I know Scott Wharton should be higher up, I know Shay McCartan is a coup, but none of those trump Andrade for me.
Some names write themselves onto the team sheet, others are open to debate. Up front it is two from three, at the back probably the same. from what I’ve seen left back is still up for grabs, only Neal Eardley and Michael Bostwick are 100% guaranteed a start if they’re fit. Maybe it would be hard to leave out Wharton or Akinde, but the reality is if they’re not fit we can cover adequately. In my opinion, Bruno Andrade is a 100% cert to start whenever he’s fit.
It was nice to see Anderson on the mark too, he’s not been the same since he was dismissed against Luton and how he’s going to be accommodated depends on the system we use. If we are planning a 4-4-2 I can’t see why we haven’t brought in more wingers, Andrade could play out wide but would be wasted, leaving just Pett and Anderson. There’s a chance we’ll go 3-5-2 or a variation thereof, but again where does Harry fit in that? His goal will give him confidence but he’s going to have to adapt if he’s nailing down a starting place in the side.
After the occasional panic from some on social media, the side is panning out nicely. There’s any one of six trialists I wouldn’t be disappointed to see join and flesh out the squad and I expect two more loans as well. I’m still utterly convinced we’ll be raiding Bournemouth, but Danny has assembled the permanent players before the loans. I like that approach, we got burned in January with the loan deals we placed a lot of emphasis on and although we still finished top seven, there were implications when Dickie and Ginnelly left and JMD flopped. this year if there’s anyone letting us down it will be one of the permanent players, but with the quality we’ve signed I get the feeling we’ll not have a flop. There’s one I’m not entirely convinced of, but I won’t start picking at players before they’ve played ten or fifteen games for us.
Ten days to go and the squad is coming along very nicely indeed and finally, we have our goals. It’s also nice to know we understand what ‘friendly’ means because I guarantee when clubs start looking at some League two side’s behaviour, they won’t be in a rush to loan them players or arrange friendly matches next year.
Remember, you can buy my latest book, 2017//18 Season Review on Amazon by following this link. I keep forgetting I’ve released it!! It’s the 200th best selling book in the Football Clubs category today, thanks to the five copies that moved over the weekend! You can change that.