EFL Team of the Year ‘snub’: Let’s keep our hair on

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

The EFL League Two Team of the Year has been announced and apparently, the Imps have been snubbed.

Despite being top of the table, our manager hasn’t won the award and we have just two players in place, Jason Shackell and Michael Bostwick. Oddly, Bozzy is in the midfield, a position he’s perhaps played twice for us this season.

The usual outpouring of anger has ensued, something perhaps once upon a time I’d have gladly indulged in. You know the drill, we’re all angry because we’re top and we’re not getting the recognition we deserve. Boo hoo.

Firstly, and this is a salient point, the awards are voted for by other managers. These are not votes open to the fans, if they were we’d likely win more places as we have more fans. No, these are awards in which managers vote for their favourites over a season. Let’s face it, we’re not exactly flavour of the month with other clubs, are we?

Let’s deal with Danny first. We know how good Danny is at his job. We know he’s the best manager in the division because he’s put us on top of the table, Ryan Lowe is second in the table by playing good football, but they’re still in with a shot of the title. The truth is there’s little to separate the two men this season. I get that we’re top, but not everyone appreciates how we get there, nor does this award take into account us coming from the National League to get where we are. It’s a subjective snapshot voted on perhaps eight or ten weeks before the season ends.

Danny is a winner and when the boys are on the grass, he fights for everything. He falls out with other managers, he puts himself in the fourth official’s face and when he doesn’t, Nicky does. Do we honestly think that a manager of that ilk is going to win an award voted for by the very people he’s trying to get at?

Plus, footballer managers like to see football played the ‘right’ way, as if there is a right way. I say the right way is whatever results in you being top and if negative tactics were hugely successful, Pulis would be top of the Premier League. We’re not only top because we sometimes play a long ball, but that’s the perception. We know, as fans, that some of our passing and patterns are excellent, but when we need to mix it we will. We’re adaptable, but that doesn’t always win us style awards.

It fits for the likes of David Artell to believe that we’re aggressive and angry, because he can claim to do things the right way and be downtrodden. A vote for Danny is an admission that actually, Lincoln aren’t as bad as the stereotype suggests and in fact we are good at football.

Heaven forbid, why would anyone suggest that?

On to the players. I’ve seen it described as ‘outrageous’ that some have not been picked. I’ve seen Bruno’s name mentioned as someone who might have got in, which is a decent shout. Today, I presented him with an award voted for by the fans, the PFA Player of the Month for February. If this had been voted for by the fans, maybe he’d have got in. 

This is what happens when I don’t wear a hat and nobody says ‘smile’ before pressing the shutter

It isn’t though, it’s voted for by the managers. Looking at the list, there’s a couple of contentious inclusions. I can accept Tyler Walker and James Norwood based on their goals, I can accept the Bury pair too as they’ve been class. We’ve already got Bozzy in there, that leaves the only available slot having been picked up by CJ Hamilton which could be contentious. 

Holding off our own anger, how do you think Colchester’s Sammy Szmodics feels? Or MK Dons who have nobody in the side? At the back, there’s two more from Mansfield, Jason Shackell and the Oldham full back. Nobody from Forest Green gets in, Reece Brown for instance, or Exeter who have had Nicky Law on top form all season. Nobody else from James Norwood FC either. Only two from Bury, same as us. From 24 teams, only 11 players can be voted for.

If you’re voted as the best keeper in the division by the way, your defence have done something wrong.

Voted for. Not picked, voted for. League Two footballer managers believe that the four Mansfield lads are four of the best players in the league up to the beginning of March. What does that say about their team as a whole, down in fourth?

We have to shed this sense of entitlement we seem to have that our players are the best. They’re not, our team is the best. So what if Mansfield have four players in the selection? They’re fourth. that tells me more about their team than it does ours. Four players generally regarded as the best amongst their peers and they’re 13 points behind the leaders. Either the rest are utter rubbish (not the case) or something else is amiss.

Once upon a time I used to get uppity about this sort of thing, but anyone who thinks we don’t get recognition needs to look again. Danny and Nicky on Football Focus is testament to the fact we do. Two televised matches in the last few weeks proves we’re a big draw. There’s no overlooking us, no conspiracy by the authorities. 

We’re not well liked. I’ll take that. Fans of other teams don’t particularly like us, other players don’t and there’s nothing wrong with that. Being liked and being a success is not the same thing. 

You know what I really love? I see the comments on the EFL’s post about Lincoln City and Danny being arrogant and disliked. I love that. I saw a similar comment on the Romford website too. Danny is an ogre and we’re abhorrent for allowing him and his brother to get away with the things they do.

In fact, his team are so bad they’ve had second fewest number of bookings in the division. Danny is such a bad person that this afternoon, when I turned up at the training ground in an official capacity, he came out of his office to shake my hand and show me a video from the weekend to explain a point I’d made in a blog to me. He’s so awful that last week, in a meeting with someone who has nothing to do with football, I heard a tale of how they’d witnessed him speaking to a star-struck child in a supermarket, open, friendly and approachable.

He’s so hated by other managers that Arsene Wenger, one of the finest ever to manage in England, took time out to record a congratulatory video after our National League triumph. 

So what if that’s not recognised in some panel voted for by a few managers? Do you think Danny would prefer to be given something they’d voted for, or the freedom of a city he has been pivotal in waking up to its football team? Would he have more pride in being given a civic award for his services to the city as whole, or the other thing?

Today’s news isn’t a snub, it is something only a small portion have people have voted on. Those included will be delighted and fair play to them, but those not recognised shouldn’t feel snubbed, nor should we. At the end of the season, as far as I’m concerned, individual awards are meaningless if we’ve been promoted.



  1. I don’t have any real issues with the team selected – these are most of the top performers in League 2 this season. I bet Eardley, Andrade and Toffolo would have been 2nd choices and 5 in the top 22 is reasonably fair – our success is mainly due to the team interaction and not due to individuals.
    As regards Danny; well the managers only really see Danny on the touchline and those of us who sit on the Selenity side would perhaps have to agree that that location is not always where he is the ‘best behaved boy in the class!’

  2. Another great article. If ever I read anything negative about Danny and Nicky, I pop onto YouTube and watch their Coaches’ Voice vids. The Masterclass against Burnley is a thing of beauty. Each to their own though.

  3. Excellent article Gary! A Grimsby supporting mate of mine used the word “arrogant” about Danny. I don’t get it. Passionate yes. Respectful of other teams in his comments yes. A wind-up during the match, ok yes. But arrogant? The style of football is successful! It’s division 2. A mix of long ball and passing, plus massive effort and competitiveness. We’ve evolved from last season, and if we get up we will evolve again. I say who cares about the poll. When I think of a few of the managers voting (incidentally the Mansfield contingent despite their league position may be more a reflection of their manager, one of the biggest wind-ups ever in his playing and managing career) I take with a massive pinch of salt. Up the mighty Imps!

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