I’ve thought long and hard about writing this article, mainly because I don’t want to. Someone won’t like it. I might turn my DMs off.
I’ve been doing a series of sorts about the different challenges we’re going to face in League One and the biggest one, the huge issue that threatens to cloud over the positivity at the club is this; Danny and Nicky might leave.
Look, we know they’re men of respect. We know they’re committed to Lincoln, they’re not going to say they’ll stay and then go. They’re not likely to leave without warning but the fact is their stock is rising, game after game, week after week.
We’ve won three trophies in three years, gone from obscurity to one step from the fifth most popular league in Europe. That’s not just progression, it’s an explosion. Progression is Newport, over three seasons going from relegation fodder to a play-off hunting side. Progression is creeping up a table, building a squad and fans coming back.
We’ve seen a legacy built, our squad has improved significantly year on year and there’s barely room for our returning fans in the stands.
The architects of that, on the field at least, are Danny and Nicky Cowley. They set the players up, work with them every week and bring in the faces they think are suitable for the job in hand. They’re good football managers, the very best we’ve ever had in my opinion. The silverware speaks for itself.
Sadly, that success doesn’t go unnoticed. West Brom are the latest club linked with them, but we’ve heard the same noises from Ipswich, heard rumours of Nottingham Forest interest, Southend were even mooted at one point. Club owners know what these boys can do and in today’s game, they’re a precious commodity.
The warning signs are there for us to heed. Paul Hurst did well with Shrewsbury and moved to Ipswich. Nathan Jones did great work with Luton and jumped ship to Stoke City. Lower league managers are getting a chance, although in Hurst’s case it backfired badly.
We’ve got to get used to the fact Danny will be linked with other clubs. Of course, it’s actually Danny and Nicky, but we’ll say Danny for now as it saves my typing finger. Danny will be mentioned as a possible manager of bigger clubs. It might be West Brom now and he might go, he might not. If he doesn’t, how long before someone else wants a look? He’s young, ambitious, successful and frankly, I’d be astounded if clubs didn’t want a look.
The media will lap it up too. In a world driven by clicks, likes and shares a story about a possible new manager is gold dust; trust me I know this industry. The West Brom rumours have come from a BBC post saying both Danny and Chris Hughton are on a list of managers being considered by West Brom. It might have legs, I’m not saying it hasn’t, but back in the day, I had a list of five celebrities I was allowed to cheat on my ex-girlfriend with. In the end, I didn’t end up with any of them, I ended up with a girl from accounts for a short while, but that’s another story…
The point is that this is going to keep happening and eventually a job will come up that makes them sit up and take note. It might be West Brom, it might be West Ham, but someone will turn their head. Do I think it’ll be West Brom? No, I don’t. I can’t see them going there so soon after moving up here. They’re just settling into new homes, the whole family has moved up and I strongly suspect they want a stab at putting Lincoln in the top six next season.
Beyond that though, who knows? Let’s say we begin the season well, they’re only going to be on the radar of other clubs with aspirations of success. Maybe it could be Leeds or Sheffield Wednesday, they’d be harder to turn down geographically.
I don’t think either Danny or Nicky would drag their partners up here only to arrange another commute or another stay away from their kids. They’re both young and their careers won’t take a huge hit by staying with Lincoln for a year. Look at Darrell Clarke; he spent another year at Bristol Rovers and even got the chance to speak to Leeds. His problem was that he didn’t jump at the right point. He stayed put, the Gas tumbled and he’s now at Walsall.
Danny and Nicky will know that. They’ll know there’s a right time to go, a time when the job has taken them as far as it can. They’re ambitious, not only for the club but for themselves. When they walked into this club we hoped, desperately, that they’d give us our Football League status back. If they did go to West Brom, which I repeat I don’t think they will, they’d owe us nothing at all.
However, the panic every time a job comes up isn’t good for anyone. Eventually, something will happen and they’ll go. Unless a Russian billionaire wants to do a Bournemouth with us, our managers are going to reach a moment in time where maybe things have come to a natural end. The right challenge might come along and in that case, it might be that they leave.
That’s one of the realities we might have to face as a League One club, especially if we actually start to do well.
Of course, we might storm League One next season, the cash from the promotion leads us to the middle of the Championship and we’re forever changed from a Division Four side to a yo-yo club bouncing between two and three. That’s the beauty of football; you never know. However, panicking at speculation and scaremongering is not the beauty of football, so turn the computer off, put the phone down and go make a brew.
Now, turn the computer back on a start trolling the West Brom twitter feed. You’ll feel better.