Last-gasp heartbreak and further division: Imps 0-1 Ipswich

It’s funny how quickly football turns, isn’t it? Six months ago we were lifting our third trophy in as many years, now we haven’t got three wins in 16 matches.

Before we start analysis on a game that was seen by different people in many different ways, I have to address some of the stuff from social media last night. I didn’t read most of it, I won’t put myself through reading comments that tear the team apart and finish with ‘then I turned the radio off’. 6,700 tells a story all of its own I’m afraid: FA Cup First Round replay in a period with very few home games and we get a smaller attendance than at any point during our National League run-in.

I despair if I’m honest. I know some groups will blame new fans and the whole split will become bigger than it was before, but whatever the reasons for the low crowd it is very disappointing. £10 to get in, one more home match before Christmas and yet still the apathy sets in quickly. I used to defend us from jibes when other clubs criticised our fanbase around our successful period but maybe they had a point. Yes, crowds rise and fall with success, but that’s a quick fall; last season at £10 a head that’s a sellout. It is a shame because the more fans that stay away, the less the budget will be and the poorer we’ll be as a team.

Oh, I know what some of you are thinking right now; ‘we couldn’t be much poorer’, right? I mean, no goals in two matches and two wins in 16 games tells a story, does it not? We’re struggling to kill games off and paying the price. However, that doesn’t mean speculation about the manager’s future is alright; did nobody listen to Clive’s interview? We’re not going to sack Michael Appleton whatever you think about the situation. Not. Going. To. Happen. When he first signed, Oxford fans said ‘wait six months to see what his teams are capable of’. Some of our fans gave up after six weeks.

I think some of us got drunk on success and have forgotten the aim here; survival. That’s always been the case, we wanted to consolidate in this division. Danny wouldn’t let us say consolidate and so we didn’t, but that’s always been the aim, even if we felt we’d do more. An ageing squad in transition needed stability to be steady at this level and instead, we’ve been smashed by suspensions, injuries and a lack of form from marquee signings. Michael Appleton isn’t the problem here but fans, both old and new, don’t want to admit that for some reason.

I find it fascinating that some people who don’t even follow me on Twitter have turned up on my feed over the last 24 hours to say it isn’t good enough. Some of them were saying the same thing in our run-in last season and now they’re ever-so happy with themselves for being right. I didn’t get blocking last night but believe me I wanted to. Measured responses, like those from Adam Barlow for instance, I have no problem with at all; I respect opinion and I can see why some people are worried. People just getting on their high horse I cannot stand.

It seems whenever we play a game now I’m spending more time talking about the reaction than I am the actual match. I suppose today I’m putting it off a little, because I know what I saw last night differs wildly from what a lot of you saw. However, I write what I feel. I saw Gillingham as a rubbish game and I made no excuses for it. If I think we’re rubbish, I’ll say we’re rubbish. If I think we played well, I’ll say we played well. Last night, we played well. Don’t like that opinion? Not a problem, you respect my right to have one and I’ll respect yours. I know, for a fact, we created more in that game than in some of our draws at home last season. I know, had John scored his clear-cut chance in the first half, people wouldn’t be so glum. I also know that when I’m on the way out of the ground and my Dad, face contorted in despair and despondency, says ‘we did everything right but score’, that we’re on the right track.

My worry here is that being on the right track and getting to where we want to be are two very different things. We might be on the right track but if the destination is a thousand miles down the line, then the crowds will continue to plummet. Let me tell you this for free though; I had no problem with new and returning fans, just as I have no problem with differing opinions, but if I see vocal fans staying away and then expecting to be welcomed back if (and when) things turn around, I won’t be a welcoming face this time around. Right now, your club needs you; not to boo at full time, not to make ridiculous polls about sacking managers as a knee-jerk reaction and not to stay away because things aren’t going our way.

That’s not how being a fan works and if you think it is, you’re mistaken.

That’s the ‘rant’ I suppose, that’s the opinion on the reaction and the run we’re on. No, it is not good enough but what do we want to do about it? More instability at increased cost? Obviously not. Sacking MA now would make this club a circus and it would be the most ridiculous action I’d seen us take in a long while (and I remember appointing Chris Sutton). He’s got a team playing decent football but he’s lost key generals and seen big names fail to deliver. That’s not the manager’s fault and whilst I eagerly await January, I think we’re only a confidence-boosting win or two away from being the team I want to see.

I’m just not sure other fans want to see the same thing I do, judging on some of the more outlandish shit I read last night.

Next Page – The Game

19 Comments

  1. I think last night showed the unbalanced squad Appleton has been left with. These are my thoughts some will agree and some will disagree but football is all about opinions.

    3 Centre Backs (2 Ageing in Shackell & Bossie) – I’m not counting Melbourne and Connolly as they were signed for Left back and centre mid cover.

    2 Wingers – Bruno and Harry – I’m not classing Grant or Payne as wingers as they are clearly number 10’s and should not be out non the wing.

    1 Defensive Midfielder – O’Connor, yes Morrell plays a bit deeper but he can hardly be classed as a Midfield enforcer.

    And then we have lots of pretty midfielders with no height or tackling skills. Pett, Freck, Hesketh, Grant, Payne, Chapman (ok he has height)

    and finally 2 strikers – Walker – Good goalscorer but for me limited out of the box and then we have big John the man last night who controlled a football further than I can kick it these days. I like big John but just think he is not the right man for us at the moment.

    Appleton likes to play with pace we have no pace in midfield and we cannot change it out wide in games as limited due to only have 2 wingers. We cannot play two up top as again no one to replace a striker later on in the game.

  2. Late winner from Arnold vs Ipswich was a sign of new good times.. New successful era, Era of Danny Cowley.

    Can last nights late winner for Ipswich be a sign of new and not very successful era of MA ?
    I hope not obviously but am afraid it can…

    Squad is unbalanced but good enough to winning games at this level as Danny proved it…

    As for last night we were at most average against Ipswich reserve team. .. Apparently we are hard to beat now but am not so sure as we keep losing…..

    i am worried…..

      • Surely he has won enough games to prove that winning with this group at this level is possible…..

        As table don’t lie you can have a look where we were when Danny left and where we are now….
        I know you insist to take some of Danny’s games out to prove your point etc, but for a change take this time first 4 games of MA out and you will take….. his ONLY league win with us…..

        • But you are comparing a single month’s fixtures versus nearly three months. You are also focusing on just the first 4 games as it is not pretty reading after. And two of those games are against awful sides. The downward trend started before they left. It is not about picking games here and there, it is showing that MA needs a heck of a lot more time than you are giving him. Like this is what we always are, a league one side. That losing here is some sort of aberation. The lords of football themselves struggled and they had a whole close season to get everything as they would like it and then bailed ASAP.

          • All am comparing are results….. And it’s not difficult to find out who’s are better .. 🙂
            What you mean MA needs more time than I am giving him? Did i say anything about sacking him or something ?
            All am saying is that results are the most important thing in this business and MA can’t get any at the moment…
            There is countless number of managers coming to clubs in lot worse position ,worse form, with worse players etc than us and getting results but MA is unable to do it so far… Instead he is talking about us getting hard to beat which is not really happening and guess what we were hard to beat for the past three years anyway so not sure what he is on about… That is all I am saying..

            I wish him well and hope he will turn things round but more than anything else I am praying for three worst teams than us at the end of the season in the table…..

            Oh and ,,Lords of football” are born winners , i can’t remember when they ,,struggled” ( i wish MA can ,,struggle” like that and be in top half of the table……) all i remember is that they gave you best ride of your life as a Lincoln fan …

  3. We have to give Appleton time, The big man is not League quality, and a couple of good forwards hopefully supporting Walker will come in the January window, and a mid table end to the season should be possible!

  4. It is how I remember LIncoln, drawing the hardest team in the first round of the cup and nobly going out. The difference now is the expectation to win. We played well as far as I could tell from the radio, but that sickening late goal seemed slightly likely.

    The wider issue on attendance, it was a matter of time. There are so many new fans that this had to come as the performances wained, so would the gates. I keep saying, but you reference the club never needing its fans more, what about the Dambuster scheme that crashed? The club was on it’s knees and the city turned it’s back. Dorrian stepped up, and then appointed the Cowleys, not Clive as the revisionist history seems to go. Fact is for many people it is entertainment watching Lincoln. Nothing more than that. And here we are, what happens when a cinema puts out films people don’t want to watch. For me the biggest indicator was the away game. A fifth of the following and the #Impvasion posts with family selfies in cars, and interviews with radio presenters etc long gone. The novelty of going to a Lincoln game has worn off now.

    We are back where we always were. Few bad results and fans getting on the manager’s back. This is why manager’s almost always got sacked in October/November as the good vibes of August die away and the clamour builds over September. And there are people on here already questioning Appleton. He’s had barely two months and picking up from managers who had abolsute control of everything and shaped exactly from them. From the science department, training ground, nutrition, to the squad. Not only are they not his players but it was hidieously unbalanced going into the season. Three centre backs and two forwards?! Not only is fitness and issue but adjusting tactics is so hard to do. There is no wriggle room to adjust.. But some on here and in other places think giving him time is 10 or so games. They also say he knew what he was getting when he came in. Well yes but presumably he was looking at the long term but mistakenly thought fans might also do this.

    At Lincoln, as with many clubs, when the going gets tough, the majority get going. Or writing on booky

  5. I was thinking of something clever to write but, sod it, I agree with everything you say Gary! I believe Michael Appleton is the right man. Yes he has work to do but goodness me what dreadful luck we are suffering. Bruno’s injury and one particular save from Holy (I’m sure even he knew little about it) summed it up last night. Up the Imps!

  6. We got 6000 in the first round of the FA cup last year and that was a Saturday and then 6,400 against Carlisle in the second round – Saturday again and same ticket prices! I’m not sure why you are suddenly attacking he fan base during a season when we’ve generally been very bad in cup matches. There were a lot more there last night than I expected, on a cold Wednesday evening, and a lot more families than I expected too.

    Cowley left because he knew that, with the team he’d assembled, a team almost entirely focussed on midfield quality, he didn’t stand much of a chance in D1 unless we could keep our best defender fit and Walker scored goals. We didn’t and he hasn’t been!

    We’ve got no strength in depth across defensive positions and it’s costing points on a weekly basis. Until we address that then why would people spend money, just before Christmas, watching their team struggle to score and almost obsessively conceding weak goals at the other end.

    • What I also meant to add was that, the one thing I do agree with Gary is that we did play well last night, across midfield (all match) and also defensively (first 75-80 minutes). Some of the blocks made by Eardley, in our own box were amazing. But, until MA can bring in a striker or decent attacking midfielders who can confidently score a few goals, then the midfield dominance that I’ve seen in many games is all just wasted effort. MA needs more time as the team he’s inherited is badly unbalanced and I agree that he needs much more time. I am also not convinced that, if DC was still here, the current situation would be any different!

  7. Definitley a night and a game to divide opinion. Football….. a game of opinions…. surely not!!!

    I’m in complete agreement with Page 1 Gary. Now is a time where the club, the manager and the players really do need the support. I am convinced we have got ourselves a good manager in Michael Appleton and once he he has a chance not only to bring his own players in, but also have a chance to pick from a fully fit LCFC squad then I think things will change quickly and for the better. Let’s not forget our best player for the last 2 seasons hasn’t played since he went off at half time in the Bristol Rovers game in mid-September. How wonderfully reassuring it was to at last see him jogging about and on the bench last night.

    However I don’t think we played well last night, not at all. Just because you are the better of the two teams on the pitch doesn’t mean that you have played well and I just don’t think we did. Sure there was plenty of effort and endeavour and certainly no lack of fight, but also there was a real lack of quality, particularly where it mattered. Lots of our play was relatively slow and ponderous and whilst we created 3 or 4 decent chances that was about it against what was a pretty poor side (irrespective of the paper credentials of some of their players). I was pleased to see Jorge Grant have a better game as I have always thought he is a good player and one more suited to playing centrally.

    I walked away disappointed, not just because we had (in my opinion) played poorly and lost but because I thought the whole team just looked short of belief and confidence and a win of any sort would just do wonders for them. Harry Anderson, despite the odd flash of life and also in fairness quite a bad knock looks like a lost soul and seems to have no belief whatsoever in his own ability. Last night he and Eardley looked like they had barely played together before and yet we all know very differently.

    We got in the car to go home and yet I found all my fellow passengers in positive mood thinking we had played well. Football certainly is a game of opinions.

  8. Great article Gary
    I actually enjoyed the entertainment value of our football last night and actually as daft as it sounds didn’t even feel too bad when they scored,
    I felt there were a number of positives in the performance.
    The guy needs time and if we can avoid the drop this season and give him time to build his own team I actually think we could threaten the top half of league one in time
    Rome wasn’t built and all that
    Wycombe struggled in their first season back in league one and they kept their manager in place
    Sadly some fans are fickle and that’s life
    Now is the time more than ever to support our team and get through this difficult time
    UTI

  9. Stu Harris, a Somerset Imp.
    This situation we find ourselves in was always going to happen no matter who was manager. We must thank the Cowleys for giving us a few seasons of brilliant memories, but they have moved on and I hope they continue to be successful, they deserve it. When the Cowleys left the “bubble” had started to burst for us, but we were in a tougher league, we could not hope to win matches as often has we had done, perhaps the brothers would have pulled it around, that we will never know. Whoever came in as manager was going to have a tough job on their hands, trying to pick up a team on a bit of a downer and having to take over from a management duo who had had great success. I agree with Chris, we appear to be overloaded with midfielders, not enough forwards, the backs seem okay to me and we have two good keepers. This then is what MA inherited, but look at the injuries, suspensions etc that have happened since he took over, add that to only having a small squad anyway and a dip in form of a number of key players, talk about an uphill task! So lets cut out blaming the manager for what’s gone wrong of late, get to January when hopefully he can start to do something about strengthening the squad .I have been an imp supporter since I was around seven and I am seventy two now, I cannot think of a time for many years when I have felt so hopeful for Lincoln City FC ,good board, a good manager, good fans, DO NOT LOSE FAITH, we will come through it.

  10. Lots of good points here – which I hope MA reads – the best of which come from Michael Brown. 1. We got to give MA time (and hope it’s not too long a time); 2. Akinde needs a move elsewhere; 4. We need a couple of good forwards from loans or the January sales to work with Tyler Walker ( best of luck here!) We simply cannot afford to keep passing up good goal-scoring chances through inept finishing; 5. time for a clear-out of the Past-Its, Shackell for starters. Lastly, I agree with those who say that we should do everything we can to finish the season mid-table. (And can I make a plea to MA to do something about good bits of football ending up in dreadful passes to the Opposition. And what’s this nonsense with the goalie fooling around with short passes to backs instead of clearing the ball up the field?) All in all, we got to keep hope alive and keep up the support!

  11. Sadly but understandably for many, it is all about the result… they dont care if we dont play well….we just have to win anyway we can. They dont acknowledge that week in week out we are playing against established League One opposition with half our team recruited two years ago to get us promoted from League Two but getting long in the tooth and the other half young loanees looking to get game time in mens football. In the main we have played some good football but in the summer we couldn’t get for whatever reason that most sought after but difficult to find goal scorer to support young Walker. Much talk about imbalance in midfield but it’s all about finding that illusive finisher.

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