‘It’s football, it’s inevitable, people come and go’ – Pundit Sam Saunders talks Lincoln City: SW Exclusive

One of the (very few) bright spots of our 3-1 defeat yesterday was the opportunity it afforded the Stacey West to chat to former Wycombe and Colchester midfielder Sam Saunders about the club.

Sam was there as a pundit, but as a player featured for Colchester on the final day of last season as they beat us 3-0. That proved to be his final game; he retired in June and is now a coach for Brentford’s B team. As well as that, Sam is a pundit on the official EFL highlights show EFL on Quest every Saturday at 9pm.

Quest is the home of EFL highlights broadcasting every round of fixtures throughout the season. Also available on desktop and app via QuestOD

Sam took time out of the schedule yesterday to chat to our man Jake about the Imps. Bearing in mind, of course, this was before we gave a rather low-key performance, he had nothing but good words to say about the Imps resurgence in recent seasons.

“You can see that they’re an organised outfit that play to win football matches,” he said when asked about how the Imps had changed during his time playing against us.

“They’re in your face, they make you earn every point. I feel this year their style of play has changed now they have a few more ball-playing midfielders; Grant and Payne in particular. They’re fluid in their change, something that is different to the past.

“There is a bit more football this season. It’s good to see, they’ve got the players to do it this season and now with the cup runs, promotions and selling out season tickets there’s a bit of a budget which is good for Lincoln.”

Courtesy Graham Burrell

Having featured for Colchester on the final day of last season, as well as having played against us for Dagenham in 2008/09, Sam has seen a significant change in the atmosphere which he now describes as ‘fantastic’.

“I like the big atmosphere and the sell out crowds. When I played there for Dagenham it was a complete contrast.

“At half time for Colchester though, a few of the Lincoln players got booed off, strange one as you’d just been promoted!

“I love it though when you get a corner, the siren goes off and it feels as though the fans are trying to suck the ball into the net which is fantastic. Being an away player, you enjoy playing in those environments. With the season ticket sales and the numbers that are there it only bodes well for the club.”

It’s not just the ground that impresses Sam though, he also had lots of positive things to say about the other facilities, not least the importance of a training facility like the one we have at Scampton.

“It’s massive for me personally (having good facilities). It’s one thing I’m really keen on, having a good working environment. Yeah, it’s nice having a nice stadium, but you’re only playing there 90 minutes a week.

“With a training ground, you’re their eight or nine hours a day, plying your trade and trying to improve. You can’t improve on bad pitches or bad gym environments or whatever it might be when the ball is bobbling up. If you want to improve a passing game and a technical game you have to have it on good facilities and it’s a massive thing for me.”

Saunders in his final game against us – Courtesy of Graham Burrell

He explained at Championship Brentford, the focus on the quality of pitches is huge and that is something he expects to be important at Lincoln too.

“With the B team at Brentford we make sure the pitches are immaculate because I want them playing good football and I want a no-excuse environment. For Lincoln moving to this new facility they’re going to have that.”

When it comes to moving to a new club as a player, those facilities are likely to turn heads.

“Of course, it would make a massive difference in making a decision to join a club. You spend hours upon on hours a week so you need a good working environment and have good people who try to make the best of each other. Particularly for young footballers who want to ply their trade and progress to the next level.”

Next Page – Sam talks about manager speculation and how the players deal with situations such as the one we have been in recently with Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday

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