Thanks to @SmokeyTimRobbo on Twitter for agreeing to take part in our feature this week. He’s our Crewe Alexandra fan in the hot seat for ‘Seven Questions’.
1. How do you feel approaching the fixture this weekend?
I feel fairly pessimistic about Saturday. The Imps proved they were one of the strongest sides in League Two if not the bottom two tiers in 2017/18 and they have started this season like a team on a mission. I’d be shocked if we were to come away with 3 points, and I’d happily settle for a draw if I could. Having said that, I was feeling exactly the same last season on the day of my 40th birthday, and we came away with a 4-1 win.
2. How do you feel the season has started and what are your hopes?
The season started superbly, with a crushing 6-0 win against Morecambe on the opening day. However, in true Crewe style, the high didn’t last long and within weeks we were back in our more familiar position of bottom half, with a negative goal difference. Four losses on the spin, including to local rivals Port Vale, who hadn’t won away in months, and to Notts County who were bottom and without a win, had Crewe fans worried. A 1-0 home win against Swindon in midweek has at least given Railwaymen something to cheer.
3. Is Artell the right man to carry you forward?
I want him to be, but increasingly it’s looking like it isn’t going to work out. It’s awkward because David Artell is a thoroughly likeable bloke. He’s passionate, charming, talks a good game and his number two, Kenny Lunt is a Crewe legend. Mr Artell’s problem is that he has signed too many strikers, and this means he feels obliged to get too many of them on the pitch at any one time.
4. Which player would you mark out as the real dangerman for City to keep an eye on this weekend?
Academy graduate Charlie Kirk seems to have made real strides over the last 12 months. His eye for a pass and a goal mark him out as potentially the best out-and-out winger at the club for a long time.
5.What are your honest perceptions of the Imps, as a club as well as on the field?
We loved our long weekend in Lincoln last season and our first trip to Sincil Bank. I was very impressed with the vocal home support, especially in the far end of the main stand. Even in the last few minutes with Crewe 4-1 up, there was loud and unwavering support for the team. The ground and fanbase would not look out of place at the top of League 1. On the pitch, I remember us struggling to deal with the physicality of Rhead and Bostwick among others in the two games last season, and Akinde looks a very good signing. The Cowleys are clearly doing a very good job and from a personal point of view it would be a real surprise if the Imps didn’t go up.
6. Who is your all-time Crewe hero and why?
Francis Tierney was the one I always tried to be in the playground but like most Crewe fans of a certain age, I remember the Championship glory days with fondness, Dean Ashton was the class act of that side.
7.Finally, what can Lincoln fans expect to see this weekend, in terms of style and approach?
A recent and much-needed switch to a 4-3-3 formation means we will probably go with Chris Porter up front and Jordan Bowery and Charlie Kirk either side of him. Jones, Ainley and Wintle will probably occupy the midfield, and captain George Ray, Perry Ng, and loan full backs O’Connor and Whelan will be the men in front of long-serving keeper Ben Garrett. Our major weakness is a lack of pace up front. We’ve failed to score in 6 league games already this season and we’ve only scored 5 times since the opening day. 4-3-3 does seem to fit out players better than 4-4-2 but whether that’s enough to hold the Imps at bay remains to be seen…