City were beaten yesterday, beaten well. That’s the bottom line, the cold harsh reality that we’re facing.
Perhaps though, the focus for many supporters was not on reality, but once again on rampant rumours about our beloved manager’s future. I understand plenty of you will simply have dismissed them with the contempt you feel they deserve after such a turbulent week, but I can’t.
Genuinely, I can’t. I wish I could. I wish when someone messages me and gives me the inside knowledge, like they did when Danny signed for Ipswich, when he went to speak to Forest and when he’s already been to West Brom, I wish I could just laugh it off. The trouble is these rumours get more credible. This one had names for the leaks, it seemed so real.
I get bothered by these. I see our football club on the cusp of something wonderful here. Okay, we’re battling against crazy fixture scheduling, the risk of an injury derailing our chances and an international call up system that is weighted towards those with big squads, but I see something in the current situation, even with yesterday’s loss. I see progress, evolution to a scale I’ve not seen before. It’s all well and good to be pragmatic about the future, to believe that we’ll be fine if the managers leave the club, but is that the truth?
Maybe, maybe not. I don’t want to find out.
I feel like I’ve more invested in this than most and that’s perhaps arrogant. You see, when Danny and Nicky joined the club I was a Depot Manager of a Builder’s Merchant. I was stressed and unhappy, I got sleepless nights and high-pressure days. I worked six days a week and was driving myself to an early grave. They came in, I snapped and took up writing and as they’ve climbed, I’ve climbed. I have more to thank them for than three trophies and enough memories to fill a lifetime. Thanks to them driving the popularity of this site forward, I’m now a writer, a teacher and a part-time speech giver. If they go, I’ll be gutted.
That’s why when we kicked off yesterday my thoughts were not of team selection, fixture congestion or international impact. My thoughts were on 5.00pm and Danny’s interview, praying I could glean something from his words to prevent me having a sleepless night on Saturday, as I did on Friday. Overreaction? Maybe. Maybe not. That’s not up for you to decide really, only I know how it bothers me.
If I had studied the team selection I think I could have begun to get an impression of how the game might go. I keep hearing calls for Cian to start and I’d love to see him get the run out he deserves, but who do you drop? If we move Bozzy into midfield I don’t think we have the energy needed to protect what is a relatively slow back four. Bozzy, Shacks and Bolger are all good defenders at this level, but none are blessed with natural pace. If we were facing Akinfenwa from the start it might not have been real trouble, but we weren’t, which changed the dynamic a little.
Also, with the legs of Connolly and Joe Morrell in front of the back four we’re quite dynamic in midfield, but losing Morrell to Wales, only to see him not play, is galling. Michael O’Connor has had a good start to the season but I’m not convinced of his overall fitness as yet. Neal Eardley clearly wasn’t at 100% but again, we couldn’t play Aaron Lewis, a lad who put in a great shift against Everton, because he was sat on the bench not playing for Wales Under 21’s. It’s frustrating how Portsmouth can have three called up, feel they can play the game but then call it off when they get an injury, yet we lose two players who would 100% have started yesterday and can’t do a thing about it.
I’m not saying the international situation lost us the game yesterday. Similarly, I’m not saying the fixture congestion did, but it has to be taken into consideration. Ten matches in 34 days is utterly ridiculous and when you consider Wycombe had a free week to plot our downfall, it’s even more angering. It’s not just the fitness either, it’s the preparation. Wycombe got into work Monday, Gareth Ainsworth slapped his projector on and stated the words; ‘right, Lincoln City’.
Danny didn’t. He had two days working on Doncaster, perhaps half a day the next day assessing fitness and then got on with Wycombe. That’s one difference that people fail to consider, let alone the fitness issue with our plays playing 60 minutes or 90 minutes on the Tuesday before going through it all again.
I know it happens through the season, but it seems virtually every game we play at the minute our opponents have had longer to prepare and longer to recover.
Then there was Chris Sarginson, a referee that put in such an inept display that both sets of fans were baying for his blood. He made a decision so bad that 95% of Lincoln fans feel that our own goal should not have stood. I’ve not spoken much about officials this season because they’ve been relatively decent, but this guy had a mare.
Fixture congestion, injuries, international selection, concern over the manager’s future and a referee likely to change a game with a bad decision. These issues were always going to mean we lost the game and yet when we did, when we finally got to kick off and ended up coming home with nothing, none of it really contributed to the defeat at all. No excuses, no victim mentality, just beaten by a couple of errors and a team who prepared better.