Business as usual? I think not: Imps 0-1 Bristol Rovers

Courtesy Graham Burrell

I imagine that a lot of you, like me, came away from Sincil Bank yesterday with the horrible feeling of loss sat deep in your stomach. 

We’ve not seen defeat all that often at Sincil Bank and although we certainly knew we would this season, I don’t think we’d expect to be beaten by a side like Bristol Rovers who were, with the greatest of respect, no better than Southend United of a couple of weeks ago.

It was a feeling that crept over me during the game, beginning to seep into my comments as I spoke to people after the game and was then compounded by my Dad’s utter desolation as we drove home. My Dad is not a man to admit he’s upset about anything; upset is always manifested as anger. On the way home, he was angry. Not at Carl Boyeson, but at the team and at Danny Cowley. He knows we’ve done brilliantly these last three years and deep down, although he won’t admit it, he’s scared it’s over.

That’s how a lot of people felt before and after the game yesterday. There are fans who are desperate for us NOT to come through this. You’ll know one, as do I. They’re the ones predicting lower crowds, worse football and almost revelling in the fact they’re right. It’s as if certain elements are keen to see the club go backwards so they can sit back with their pint, smile smugly and say ‘I told you so’.

Some were desperate to relay to me that Jorge Grant had opted to go back to Forest after Danny had left. I heard it from three or four people and yet minutes later there was Grant with Tom Pett, at the ground and not Nottingham. I’d also ask how he can go back to Forest when we signed him on a permanent deal? Have the doom and gloomers forgotten that?

Those people are going to be as damaging to this club as losing a manager, delivering a self-fulfilling prophecy and loving every minute. They are to Lincoln City what Nostradamus would have been to matrimonial bliss if he’d sat in his chair all day writing the words ‘Mrs Nostradamus is on her way out’ until she finally turned up her toes.

Missing: Key man Grant Courtesy Graham Burrell

I think most of us expected yesterday to be different. We expected it to be flat, the performance to be dour and the visitors to win. I did. Those who listen to the pod will know I put a tenner on us to lose. I didn’t do it because that’s the outcome I wanted, I did it because I wanted some small crumb of comfort if we actually did lose.

The first game of the post-Cowley era was not one to look back on fondly. It was not one that reflected where we’ve come from over the past three years and it was not one that followed the pattern of our opening fixtures. Our passing, usually tight and quick, was laboured, forced and at times inaccurate. Our chance creation, high in the opening fixtures, was woeful. Our defending, stoic and organised, looked hurried at times. In truth, the central defenders were probably the only players on the field I thought were approaching their usual game, along with Josh in goal.

What did we expect though? Did we expect that things would be normal? The club can deliver whatever message they like to supporters, but the truth is that no player will be completely unaffected. The training might well have been much the same in terms of drills and conversations, but the messages would have been different; they came from different people. Jamie McCombe might well have wanted to ensure us all it was business as usual, but it won’t have been. It’s not possible.

I often used to refer to my job as a manager of a Builder’s Merchant in my writing. If I was off work and my assistant took charge, he would often try to keep things exactly as they were, but it wouldn’t work. Never. People are different, different in what they see, how they react and without the former managers of the club, the structure might have been the same but things most definitely were not.

I think a desperate attempt to keep things the same ended up contributing to our downfall

In fact, I think a desperate attempt to keep things the same ended up contributing to our downfall. That, and the referee, who I have deliberately waited to mention until 650 words in. There is a reason for that; I don’t want to be seen to be trying to cover up what was wrong yesterday with excuses. I don’t want to paint the picture of ‘everything is fine’ either, because until we get a manager, it isn’t. What I want is to give an accurate picture of 90 minutes of football, but to set context. This first page is the context.

On Monday, we lost our managers. Those men brought all of these players to the football club, some of them very recently. They set the tactics, made many of the decisions and affected things from the touchline. That, in itself, is enough to disrupt our flow. We’re led to believe that the players perhaps knew last week, explaining the poor showing at Wycombe and it’s still very much a period of uncertainty for them.

Couple that with missing Jorge Grant, our most creative player of the opening fixtures, and it was always going to be a tough afternoon.

The people in charge are good people, but neither are managers. I interviewed Andy Warrington once and he told me he had no inclination to be a manager. I’ve spoken to Jamie too and he never appeared to want to progress to management. They’re good men doing a job unfamiliar to them. Yes, they had input, but they weren’t the managers and they won’t be going forward.

There as so much pressure on the players and staff to be the same yesterday that it was inevitable they were not going to be, but for the first fifteen minutes I wondered if maybe, just maybe, the patterns implemented by the former regime would hold firm.


  1. A true account of the match and the official Gary.
    It was certainly a penalty for City & not a penalty for them.
    What we couldn’t understand was why take of your best goal scorer / player when you need to score, surely bring on another attacker and have a real go. The fans would have accepted that and also settled for a draw.
    Rovers were nothing special at all but I have to say the City players weren’t themselves either I know they are professionals but the first game without the Crowley’s was always going to be difficult.
    We haven’t been rudderless for a number of seasons and we haven’t turned into a poor team in a week, it will get better, keep up the good work Gary. ?

  2. Ref was/is a muppet and both penalty decisions were wrong but one shot on target at home is just not good enough. Don’t understand why Walker needs to be taken off around 70 min. every game. When we’re up it is fine but when we are down it’s just like shooting in your own leg…

  3. Exactly Matt, when you are losing why take off your best Striker, I hope a new Manager is announced tomorrow.Looks like DC has alot of work to do at Huddersfield after losing to SW.

  4. I just wonder that, this was a game, the players just wanted to get over and done with. Tuesday, will tell me one way of another. Am writing this without my normal cynicism, I so want this pre new manager spell to be successful. I don’t know if the so called favourites had sent their spies to watch us and report back about a disappointing game. It amazes me that Mr Boyeson is still on the EFL list, the amount of complaints other managers make against him. I just hope Mr Assessor finally puts in a low mark and recommends Mr Boyeson is given a rest in some far and distant under 12 league. There used to be a Mr C Boyeson, referee back in the late 60, and 70s.. One Bright spot Huddersfield lost. As my step daughter is an Owls fan, she will be doubly pleased with that. UTI.

  5. Sorry but a contradictory piece for me.

    You started by rightly berating the doom mongers then write your piece in that negative mindset, even to the point of admitting you bet against your own team!

    I do agree we need a new manager in ASAP as we are on a poor run which started under the Cowleys.

  6. Another great piece Gary.. I think yesterday was a poor effort by the boys , they looked disjointed and out of sorts. We desperately need a new guy at the helm. Hopefully we will hear something tomorrow? Not sure how we will get on at Rochdale, wont be easy I imagine. Theres an old Black Sabbath track called Wheels Of Confusion. Might be where we are now.. Anyway lets keep the faith. UTI.

  7. Agree totally with the piece.
    We did look lost, almost a case for postponing the match, isn’t that what teams do now a days if they do not feel up for it. The lads are in mourning, what about their welfare!!.
    I agree that we were trying too hard to make things normal and as a result, our play appeared rushed with too many wrong decisions being made and too many times the ball being given away needlessly. I actually think it was Jason Shackles least convincing performance yesterday, have not seen him make so many mistakes.
    Referee was a disgrace, absolutely a penalty for us, absolutely not a penalty for them. That said, a draw would have been a fair result.
    We did miss the management from the Cowleys, they did bring that sense of control and ability to change outcomes when things are not going our way.
    Glad that the game is now out of the way and I am confident we wil get something out of the next couple of games.
    We need the ships captain in place soon to steady things and create a new environment of belief.
    We willget back on track and at the end of day, after all that has happened this week, we are only a few points off top place……………crazy division.

  8. Goodness, what a depressing load of tripe!

    We know BR are picking up a bit – came with defensive game – penalty against instead of for.

    Give us 3 weeks please, hopefully to realise that in this division we need 2 quick and mobile strikers on the field at the same time!

  9. Agreed with the piece thought the Imps played angry from the middle of first half. Set pieces were not good. Occasionally would like to see near post and far post set ups for corners to stretch the defence wide. Can Walker last a full game Or is he a 60 minute man? I presume Bostwick had an injury ?

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