We don’t know if the season is over or not. We don’t know if we’ll be back at the Bank before the summer, or whether games will go on behind closed doors.
We don’t know a lot, not really.
What we do know is that the 2019/20 season has been an unprecedented mess, from Bury’s exclusion to Bolton’s kids, from fewer Saturday home games than ever before to an uncertain end. What it does look like is the retention of out third-tier status, whatever that might mean.
There has been plenty for us to digest though, a roller-coaster season that has seen managers come and go, coaches do the same and more than 30 players make a senior appearance for the Imps. In a feature we usually run at the end of the season, we’ve decided to look at all of those players and assess their impact, our opinion on their situation and whatever else we feel like discussing. After all, once this pandemic has gone, we’ll go back to normal and find a club in transition with a swiftly-evolving playing squad eager to emerge from the shadow of our former managers.
As ever, photos from the excellent Graham Burrell will accompany the piece and the rest of the series should be expected this week.
John Akinde 29 appearances, 8 goals
Big John wasn’t having a bad season, not when you consider of his 29 outings, only three were starts in the league. His final appearance, a two-goal cameo in the 5-1 destruction of Bolton Wanderers, helped bolster his goals tally, but the truth is his spell with the Imps never saw him looking like the lethal striker we thought we’d signed from Barnet.
This assessment isn’t about last season, so I won’t be talking up his contribution to our title win. Instead, we have to see John as a striker who ‘almost’ made the grade here, but after promotion looked increasingly lost. Towards the end, I do wonder if motivation was a factor. He signed for Danny and Nicky and I felt he went off the boil after they left.
For me, last season was defined by John holding aloft the trophy, an image which proved his input helped us on to achieve good things. This season, the one thing that sticks in my mind is screwing an early chance against Ipswich past the post when scoring would have been easier. I wasn’t surprised when he moved to Gillingham, but I feel we fear him more playing against us than we did believe in him playing for us.
Harry Anderson 37 appearances, 7 goals
Harry is a lot like my mixer tap in my bathroom; it runs hot and cold too. On his day, Harry Anderson can be lethal, a powerfully built winger who has seemingly scored more with his head this season than his feet. He arrives late in the box for crosses, often isn’t picked up at corners and his early goal against Everton showed he has the insight to find the right spaces and be part of good footballing moves.
When he’s not on it, he’s anonymous on the flank, struggling to make any impact. What I would say is he never stops trying to get involved, I’ve never thought ‘Harry doesn’t want this today’. He’s been a little inconsistent, but he’s a key part of our squad.
Yes, he struggles against teams who play 3-5-2 and at times this season his pace has seemed a little off, but that’s me looking for the critical. I’d much rather see him in the starting XI than on the bench and he’s arguably the best out and out winger we have right now. He can offer options in terms of how we play and is a key part of the club’s playing squad.
Bruno Andrade 23 appearances, 2 goals
I remember watching Bruno being carried off Ipswich, thinking how our most creative player had been lost. At the time, it didn’t occur to me he only had two goals, one against Everton in the cup, or that he’d contributed just two assists. I suppose Bruno was one of those players who made you think he was having an impact.
For a short while, as we looked shot-shy, I felt he was our brightest spark, but his efforts never ended up in the net, his crosses didn’t land on a player’s head. His best football came under Danny and Nicky and he’s another who, looking back, didn’t seem half as effective after the arrival of Michael Appleton.
I can’t play down Bruno’s ability though, on his day he was sensational. Again, much like Big John, his influence last season was exceptional, but he never really got going this time out. Injuries didn’t help him, but when he moved to Salford it did prompt surprise, certainly in my house. I felt if anything, he’d move up, instead he moved down. To date, in seven outings for Salford, he’s doubled his assist total for the season.
Sceptical fans might say it’s finding his level, possibly. Others might say a motivated Bruno will always do well and we didn’t have that towards the end, but I’m not so sure. I just think he struggled a little with injury and that despite departing, we shouldn’t lose sight of his importance last season.