It’s that time again; someone who has never played football at any level offers their opinion on a squad of League One players based on nothing other than 90 minutes every week or so.
Yep, it is the Stacey West yearly rundown of the Imps squad. This year, to give it a bit of depth, I’ve added a few little bits. Before you jump into my look at the current squad, here are a few things to consider.
- Players who left the club during the season are not included; there’s no Edun or N’Lundulu, for instance.
- I’ve included a few stats. All appearance and goals data are from all competitions.
- The assists are from Wyscout, in case there’s any dispute.
- The average rating, and best and worst performances are from your ratings over the season. I haven’t put the Accrington data into the averages (as there’s also another game to go as well), but I have included those players who you felt had their worst game of the season in Lancashire.
I’m going to break it down into small sections, released daily this week, so as to not drop a whole load of stuff on you, and so you can debate and discuss in small chunks. I’m writing this on Sunday, and plan to drop one article per day through until Friday, which leads us into the Crewe game. If you’re reading this Friday, I hope I feel better, as I’ve had a stinking cold all bloody weekend, exasperated by the Accrington performance!
Without further ado, let’s crack on, shall we?
Apps 24 (2) Goals 0 Assists 0
Average Rating – 6.50
Just read the bit about Liam Bridcutt or Tom Hopper and apply it to Adam Jackson. On his day, he’s one of the best central defenders we have on our books, but, assuming he starts this weekend, he will have just played more than 50% of our fixtures. As with the other players, it is not enough. If I were writing these little assessments with those key players having played 35 or more matches, I have little doubt we’d have finished just outside the top ten. That’s all ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ though, which isn’t enough. I like Adam Jackson, I do, but watching him get bullied by Josh Magennis the other week did make me wonder if we might need something different in the back four next season.
Best Performance: Sunderland (H) 7.7
Worst Performance: Crewe (A) 5.1
Average Rating – 6.98
Fair play to Sam Long, he went out on loan and was almost immediately recalled to play in the first team. He had a few decent outings, kept two clean sheets and saw us win in his only Football League outings. He’s now earning rave reviews over in Ireland, and I suspect we might see him wearing the number 1 shirt next season. One save over in Drogheda is absolutely outstanding, if you can find a clip on Twitter, you’ll know which one I mean. However, if he is to come here and play regularly, he’ll need a settled defence in front of him.
Best Performance: Plymouth (A) 8.2
Worst Performance: Sunderland (H) EFL Trophy 5.5
Apps 32 (4) Goals 5 Assists 5 Second Assists 4
Average Rating – 6.07
I don’t do scapegoats and if I did, I wouldn’t be picking Maguire as a player to blame for our lowly position. What I would say is this; he’s scored just two league goals from open play, and they both came in a game in which he had a point to prove. That’s just not enough for a player who has been where he’s been and done what he’s done. I also fear he makes us play slower; the last couple of matches without him we’ve looked a little quicker in the transition. It’s not an opinion that’s rare either; sadly I don’t think Maguire made many friends by falling out with supporters twice. Once, maybe you can forgive, but twice? Not for me, I’m afraid. He’s contracted until the end of next season and if he does stay here during the summer, I hope we see the Maguire that went to the Stadium of Light in January, not the one who shouted at a linesman for not retrieving the ball like an 11-year-old ballboy.
Hit / Miss – Miss
Best Performance: Sunderland (A) 9.7
Worst Performance: Gillingham (H) 2.8
Apps 16 (3) Goals 5 Assists 1 Second Assists 1
Average Rating – 6.05
John Marquis has been a hit in so much as he’s scored five goals, but consider this; two of those goals came in 2-1 defeats and were therefore largely irrelevant. He bagged two against Sheffield Wednesday and one against Plymouth, earning us six points instead of two. So, if you’re of the impression he’s scored the goals that have kept us up, you’re wrong. What he has done is helped us to a couple of crucial victories, but he’s now scored two in 16 outings, and that’s just not enough to warrant breaking our wage structure. I like John’s attitude, he applauds fans rather than ignores them, but clapping and ‘getting it’ just isn’t enough. I strongly suspect he won’t remain here next season.
Hit / Miss – Hit
Best Performance: Sheff Weds (H) 8.6
Worst Performance: Gillingham (H) 3.5
Apps 44 (1) Goals 2 Assists 1 Second Assists 2
Average Rating – 6.37
I actually find it tough to write about Conor, because he’s obviously not had a bad season; he’s played the second-highest number of games in the league and has been asked to play a role that perhaps isn’t his best, defensive midfield rather than more advanced. I thought he struggled early doors, but he has been an (almost) constant is a season of upheaval and inconsistency. I don’t think he’s been as good as he was last season, but if he does leave, as expected, he will do so with his head held high. Any problems we’ve had this campaign have not been his fault, and even when the rest of the squad have been perceived to lack effort (rightly or wrongly), he hasn’t.
Best Performance: Sunderland (A) 8.6
Worst Performance: Portsmouth (H) 3.7
Apps 6 (2) Goals 1 Assists 0
Average Rating – 6.71
Sometimes, your face just doesn’t fit, and I think that applies to Max Melbourne. He started the season in the defence out of necessity and did ok. He went out on loan and couldn’t get in the starting XI of a team battling at the bottom of League Two, so was recalled and scored the winner against Plymouth. Oddly, that goal was his last touch of the ball, and since that game at Home Park, he’s got as much game time as me. I think there’s a top League Two player in Max Melbourne, which is where I expect him to end up when his non-starter Lincoln City career ends this summer.
Best Performance: Plymouth (A) 7.5
Worst Performance: Wycombe (A) 5.4
Apps 26 Goals 2 Assists 0
Average Rating – 6.48
Lewis started the season injured, came in during a tough period and then just as we started signing players to improve our fortunes, he got injured again. Like many of the players, Lewis suffered a tough 2021/22, perhaps more so than anyone. His injury was a freak occurrence that came as he was beginning to recapture his form from last year. It’s a big one to recover from, and I don’t think Michael Appleton will expect to see the giant Dutch defender in the team much before Christmas.
Best Performance: Sheff Weds (A) 8.4
Worst Performance: Accrington (H) 4.7