It is inevitable that Michael Appleton will be linked with bigger jobs than ours, but it seems that for now, he is going nowhere.
Speculation has been rife this weekend that he is a target for Bristol City. The stories originate not only from a comment on Twitter from a local Bristol journalist but also one of the awful ‘in the know’ accounts that I shall give no further coverage to. Sadly, another spoof tweet suggested he wasn’t at the game yesterday, and like much fake news, it spread like wildfire across social media.
Even I asked the question after several supporters I know do not peddle guff put it out there that Michael was not at the game. I find it desperately sad that in this day and age, one plum on social media making up lies can cause almost an entire fanbase to panic. Sadly, September 9th 2019 convinced me that there is always a chance your worst nightmares could come true, and I’m not sure I could think of anything worse than losing Michael right now.
In an interview with Lincolnshire Live, he has allayed the fears of supporters as best he can: “It is not just a compliment for me, but for everyone at the club, in terms of staff, players and board,” he said after the Imps turned around a one-goal deficit to beat Wigan. “The reality is, when you get linked to a really good job like that, it’s because you’re doing well. Listen, it’s not just about me, it’s about everyone who was out there today, staff included. I’m enjoying what I’m doing here with Lincoln. We’re in a fantastic position.
“That’s not something I’m looking to step away from.”
That will hopefully silence the idiots on Twitter who have nothing to do with our club, looking to boost their own likes and shares by playing on vulnerable people who can’t tell a real account from a sweaty little boy in his bedroom making up rumours. That said, let us not play down the reputation Michael is carving out for himself and the club.
I read somewhere Bristol City fans didn’t want Michael because of his relationship with Mark Ashton, whom he worked with at Oxford. For me, that is utterly incredulous and Robins fans must be delusional if they think they’d be getting some sort of lacky or yes man. Have they not seen the League One table? A club with a budget that should see them in midtable, reduced by 40% this season, are top. Not only that, we have conceded six away all season, we reached the EFL Trophy semi-finals and we’re playing football the rest of the division are applauding almost everywhere we go.
Why would you not want a manager who brought that to a club? I don’t want Michael to leave, I want him to stay here and take us to the next level, one that almost all Imps fans have dreamed of and never thought possible. Whether you refer to it as the Second Division or the Championship, it is a Holy Grail that even your Granddad would be hard pushed to recall us competing in and yet here we are, knocking on the door all on our own merit. If Bristol City fans cannot understand what a great manager Michael Appleton is, great. I’m all for that.
There are reasons I think we should trust Michael to stay too. He seems settled, he’s just had a little one and he is knee-deep in an exciting project. When Ben and I spoke to him at the live podcast back in December 2019, he told us how he felt he’d rushed some of his earlier jobs. Remember, he didn’t get back into management quickly after leaving Leicester City, he waited for the right job, the right club and the right chance. Well, Lincoln City is it and I don’t see our manager as someone who makes the same mistakes over and over again. He’s left clubs before looking to get to the top quickly and it backfired through no fault of his own.
If he stays, delivers Championship football and writes his name in Lincoln City history at the same time, then his stock rises, maybe even beyond Bristol City and Huddersfield. I’ll be honest, if he does get us up, who can truly begrudge him his progression? As long as he is always honest with the fanbase, which I sense that he will be, then whatever he achieves in the game will be with our blessing.
As long as it starts with trips to QPR, Middlesbrough and Forest next season.