It was Marilyn Monroe who said, “if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best”.
Last night, it was my mate Gav sitting behind me who said ‘if you can’t support us when we’re struggling, you don’t deserve to be here when we do well’. Gav isn’t quite as good looking as Marilyn was, and he’ll tell you I don’t always agree with what he says, but that resonated with me. I think it came as a small section away to my left booed a backwards pass. It’s a good point, and amidst all of the smug doom and gloomers revelling in our performance the other night, I think it is important to note.
It’s like this (I’ll tell it like it is), last night wasn’t the end of days. It wasn’t good (oh my, it wasn’t good), but those footballers are not bad footballers; they’re out of form, not reaching their levels, out of position, whatever, but you cannot tell me Lewis Fiorini, who recently penned a new deal with Manchester City, is a bad footballer. You can’t tell me Lasse Sorensen, who played in the Championship for Stoke, isn’t up to scratch, or that Premier League youth N’Lundulu isn’t any good. They’re not showing it at times, but they’re not ‘stealing a living’, they’re really not. One or two will improve. One or two have been better before last night. One or two, well, they’ll end up dropping down to League Two maybe, trying their luck there. That’s football. However, last night was not Aldershot in 2011 bad, it was not Crewe in 2018 bad either. It was tough to watch, but we kinda know where we are.
The arguments keep coming out about August, the transfer policy, but too much emphasis is put on certain elements. Too many people say ‘the recruitment hasn’t been good enough’, when actually with the injured players back in, maybe some of these youngsters exposed to this tough run could be taken out of the limelight. Maybe, with what many feel are our first choice central defensive pairing in the side, we’d look more solid. Of course, that then leads us to talk about signing injured players, something that isn’t entirely true, and we begin to go around in circles. It’s the chicken and egg isn’t it; there’s no definite answer. Sadly, too many people want to get up on the high horse and claim to be right, too many seem quick to judge, but not as quick to get behind the team.
This isn’t calling fans out, it is just fact. Last season, we were brilliant in patches and yet come February, when we went through a tough patch, the doubters were out in force. Now, those same people are saying we won’t be as good as we were last season. It baffles me, because when do the side needs us most? When we’re beating teams and everyone’s on board, or at times like now when there’s a rough patch to get through? In case you’re wondering, it’s the latter.
I remember in 2018/19, when we won the League Two title, I got a phone call from then-manager Danny Cowley after a draw at Oldham. He was asking me why I thought fans were so quick to get angry on social media; we’d won one in six in the league, and people were wanting ‘serious questions asked’, they were all over social media ‘telling it like it is’. You know the sort of reaction – the worst performance in years because we drew away against ten-man Oldham. Yawn, they were all singing Sweet Caroline when 22 games and one league defeat later we won 2-0 at MK Dons.
There are so many positives around the club right now, things that people don’t see. Sure, everyone’s quick to jump on so-called boring football, or a bad performance, but it’s much harder to praise, isn’t it? I made the point about numbers reading the site; thus far my article on last night’s game is closing in on 5,000 views. For the Wigan game, ‘only’ 2,500 logged on to have a read. It’s much easier to read negativity and let that breed, than it is to be positive. Positivity isn’t a bad thing. Happy clappers might become unbearable when they don’t admit things are not great, but detractors are just the same when they can’t pick single positives.
Positives; we’re solvent, we have good owners and a manager who has already taken us to Wembley once. Michael has proven he can attract good players and whilst there’s been a few misses so far this season, there’s nothing to suggest that’ll be the norm. Crowds are still good, 7500-odd home supporters for every game, and we’re going to be focused on putting right the wrongs. This isn’t 2011 when players were giving up in March, it sin’t the days of David Holdsworth’s bargain black book and a new face every week. This club is in good shape, but we’re going through a tough patch. It’s times like these us, the fans, are most important.
Lincoln City FC needs supporters now. Back when it was all Sweet Caroline, fist-pumps and Matt Rhead, the brilliant support was lauded, but it wasn’t essential, no matter what you were told. We were confident, winning games and whether 5,000 or 10,000 had been in the stadium, the same would have been the case. Right now, the players and management need our support, to get through to January with our season still intact. All this talk of a relegation battle, or the ridiculous comments about Michael’s job are just counterproductive. It doesn’t matter whether players read social media or not, you start planting that idea and it grows amongst other, impressionable fans. We haven’t been in the bottom four all season, we’ve lost two games in eight and I’m hearing the manager should go or we’re doomed? Seriously?
Now is not the time to panic. We’re a bit battered, but we’re not on our arses like we have been in the past. We had a bad night at the office, and we’re on a poor run in terms of performances, but I didn’t see many saying how bad everything was when we thumped Cambridge 5-1. It’s like this (this is how it is), we’re a mid-table League One side living on glories of the past, with some failing to accept where we are now. If anything proved that, it was fans calling Danny the messiah on social media (yes Kev, that’s you), applauding him as if he hadn’t just led a team to a 3-0 victory against us. It’s all well and good saying that we can’t use losing to Woking as a barometer of how far we’ve come, but by the same rationale, you can’t use getting to Wembley as a barometer of how far we’ve fallen (which is ten places by the way, not exactly a 1987 style implosion, is it?).
Yes, it’s a tough spell, but have some faith. Only six months ago we were at Wembley, watching arguably the best team of a generation go within a whisker of the Championship. We have the same manager, same recruitment team and the same drive to succeed within the club. We’re not getting the same results, but January is on the horizon and I’m certain we’ll be pointing forward, not backwards, after that.
If you can’t support us when we’re struggling, then you really don’t deserve to revel in our glory when we do well.