Having reported that we might be looking at Theo Archibald once football resumes, we noticed a lot of people saying he’d impressed them for Forest Green playing against us last season.
Sometimes, a name perhaps passes me by or slips from memory, so I went back over my report from that game to see if he warranted a special mention. I usually only mention an opponent by name if he’s either very good or does something stupid. It seems Archibald impressed me also, as I wrote:
“I can usually pick out one or two players I like from an opponent, but with them it was far more. Joseph Mills was outstanding on the flank, Carl Winchester controlled the midfield, Theo Archibald was a constant threat and whenever they came forward it was with purpose and vigour. It didn’t take long for them to get level either.”
I wondered if I’d been so impressed, had other people? After all, despite his billing as an exciting talent, he does only have one assist this season, although there are six goals to his name as well, which isn’t to be sniffed at. He started the season well, all of his goals and assists came before November, which also seems to coincide with Macclesfield’s troubles becoming clearer.
His outing against us was sensational, but he lost his way after that at the New Lawn. Having looked back at his stats that day he attempted 10 dribbles, six of which resulted in him beating his man, plus he played 39 accurate passes out of 45 leaving him with an 87% success rate. It was a strong outing for him, but oddly it was his penultimate start for Forest Green. His solitary goal for them came in a 26-minute stint on the right wing in his final fixture and oddly, one of his assists came as he came on at left centre back for 19 minutes. Despite wowing our fans, it seemed as though Cooper wasn’t sold on the former Celtic man, but that’s not entirely the case.
If you delve a little into Archibald’s past, you can understand how he’s wound up at Macclesfield despite having immense talent. He was highly-rated at Celtic and even turned out for Scotland Under 21s, but opted to move to Brentford after being impressed by their Director of Football, Robert Rowan. Rowan is described as Archibald’s mentor, but he passed away in November 2018, just a week or so after Archibald impressed at Sincil Bank.
Archibald did make a few appearances in the Championship for Brentford but also courted controversy as he struggled to settle. He was sent home from an away trip for ordering room service when it strictly prohibited and was later released, winding up at Macclesfield.
In an interview with the Daily Record, Archibald admitted he lost his way a bit after coming down south.
“I know that I could have been a bit more grown up at Brentford. Just in terms of the way I handled myself when things weren’t going well. Probably, the reason why it didn’t work out was partly to do with me and partly to do with the club. I stopped training with the first team about six months in.
“On one away trip I ordered room service. It wasn’t anything unhealthy but I wasn’t sure if it was a rule or not. Anyway, apparently it wasn’t OK and I was sent home from the trip. Things like that didn’t help me. I felt it was harsh. I hate playing the victim or feeling sorry for myself.”
He admitted in the interview that he feels a more rounded person and crucially, he spoke about stepping back up, which a move to Lincoln would fulfil.
“I’m still only 21. I’ve played in the Championship, I’ve lived in London, I’ve had loan moves. I’ve experienced all of that so I’d like to think that I’m a pretty rounded footballer – and person – now.
“Hopefully I can go and have a good season or two at Macclesfield before climbing back up the way. I believe in the decision I made to come here. Listen, even my pals joke with me about playing League Two. And it’s not the best standard of league. But it’s competitive and for young players it’s a great place to get experience.”
Archibald certainly seems to fit the bill for the Imps; young and ambitious, big club pedigree but small club experience and a desire to fulfil an early promise. If he were able to leave the cash-strapped Silkmen on a free, he’d be an investment that costs little but could well reap much more impressive rewards further down the line.