For anyone who has ever worked in branch management, certainly in a builder’s merchant, this will likely raise a smile.
I’m thinking Kev Harris, Simon Barnfield and Paul Bullivant from my Jackson Building Centre days here, but I’m sure anyone who works in middle-management across a range of industry will know exactly what they are about to get. A SWOT analysis is a report that I had to do on numerous occasions about a depot. usually, I found myself doing one when I applied for jobs – the manager roles at Jackson Horncastle, Jewson Bourne and Jewson Huntingdon. As a trainee manager, it was a way of making you aware of market conditions and it is a tool likely used today, not that I have had to write one since I left Jewson in April 2017.
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The idea was you divided a piece of paper into four and came up with a couple of entries for each, which in turn would give your area manager a picture of where your branch was. It is a useful tool for analysis and often when you had to sit and think, it helped shape the direction you took you depot in. Or, in my case, I did it, it got looked at and I filed it in the rounded grey filing cabinet under my desk which also had the Mcdonald’s wrappers in.
Still, it makes a change from the usual method of presenting a ‘season-so-far’ review, doesn’t it? I think three items for each will suffice (although if you worked under a certain Mr F at Jewson, that would be six, or nine and if you came in short, you’d be berated, even though he forgot the difference between gross and net in a sales meeting once). So, without further ado, I present to you my SWOT analysis on Lincoln City, December 2020.
We start with strengths and the first thing that comes to mind when I think of our strengths is our versatility. We have 15 fit outfield players right now, that just about makes up a bench, and yet Michael could play numerous different starting XI’s. Jorge Grant can play almost anywhere in the middle third as well as up front on the left, we could field three different players at left-back, yet they could all start in the same team and not one of them actually be at left-back. They say that a squad has strength in depth, but that isn’t the case with us. We don’t have squad depth and we desperately need McGrandles, Archibald, Jackson, Bridcutt or Morton back from injury (have I forgotten anyone), but it is a strength that even with five players out, all of whom would likely be starting (bar maybe Theo), we are still able to keep opposition managers guessing as to how we will line up.
I remember the day DC left, I had to write an article for Football League World about three managers I felt we should appoint. One of those managers was Michael Appleton and I’m fairly sure I was the first person to suggest him as a possible manager. I’d been impressed with his NTT20 podcast interview and I felt he was prime to come in and do a great job for a club. His record at Oxford stood up against the best in League One and League Two, and I could explain away the other spells in management. I’m delighted to have been proven right, even if it did get a bit worrying up until last Christmas. What we have now, in my opinion, is one of the most exciting managers at this level. he has squeezed miracles out of a threadbare squad on a reduced budget, to such a degree that I genuinely fear for other clubs if he does get a full budget over the coming year or two. There is a philosophy to his play, it is clear and concise and when things don’t go well, he sticks to the plan anyway. The players are clearly well-drilled and well-coached and with David Kerslake and Steve Croudson in the background (amongst others), I feel as confident in our management now as I did between 2016 and 2019. Lincoln City fans wait years for exciting, consistent and (hopefully) successful back-to-back management teams and finally, we have just that.
An obvious strength is our current league position, which has given us a great platform to build upon as we go bravely into 2021. It is fair to say (and I won’t mince my words) 2020 has been utter shit in almost all aspects of life, but right here at Sincil Bank, it hasn’t. We’ve evolved and progressed and to go into Christmas second in the league (or joint top, which is what people in second on goal difference say) is not just good, it is unbelievable. 12 months ago there were those who thought we were in a relegation battle, yet here we are with a lower budget and no supporters in the ground, challenging for promotion. Yes, Bristol Rovers dropped from a similar position to relegation candidates last season, but even a pessimist has to admit where we are is a strength. I boldly predicted we could lose four in every five matches between now and May and still stay up. For a club whose fans felt that survival was a reasonable expectation, that is a big strength.