I’ll be brutally honest; when I first heard the stories about Michael Carrick coming here, I genuinely believed they were nothing more than rumour.
I had it in my head, nailed on, that before the week was out Mark Kennedy would be in the hot seat. I believed it would probably be done by now, and my thought on the hold up was the Birmingham City takeover. I’ll be honest, if Mark Kennedy is appointed as our head coach, then I think he’d have to win a lot of fans over. However, that is purely because many people will look at the surface, see he was let go by Manchester City, saw he won once in his spell as Macclesfield manager and feel he doesn’t have the credentials to come to Lincoln. We don’t know what his coaching is like, or how he handles himself, and that’s key. Remember, two managers fans did say they’d like to see here were Michael Duff and Mark Bonner, both who took their teams out of League Two and neither of whom had managed before.
It may still be the case that Mark Kennedy is being readied, but Football Insider, a source I usually trust, is reporting the 40-year-old is in talks with the club. Firstly, I can’t believe he’s younger than me, and secondly, I can’t actually believe he is being connected with Lincoln City. We’ve had big-name players manage here before; David Herd had played at Manchester United, Willie Bell appeared more than 200 times for Leeds United and, of course, there’s Chris Sutton. Michael Appleton was a relatively big name as well, but Carrick is different level. He’s got more trophies in his cabinet than most of League One combined, and plenty of experience around a big club, if not League One.
Whilst I’ve seen comparisons drawn with Chris Sutton, there are subtle differences. Firstly, Lincoln City 2022 is very different to Lincoln City 2010. When we went for Sutton, it was a board perhaps a bit blinded by his fame, and we needed the contacts as well. We don’t need the contact Michael Carrick may have right now, we have a good relationship with Arsenal, Man City and other clubs. We’ve proven to be a good place for young players to come and thrive and what we need is a head coach with a reputation to at least compare to Michael’s, so we can continue those relationships. We don’t need the foot in the door, we need to keep producing the goods so clubs retain their belief in us.
I’m not going to pretend to know whether Michael Carrick has a good name as a coach, but he’s been caretaker of Man Utd (albeit for three matches), and has clearly coached some incredible footballers. For a while, he worked alongside Kieran McKenna, the Ipswich manager, which perhaps gives us some idea of his level. McKenna did well after going into Portman Road, and although his name isn’t as ‘big’ as Carrick’s as a player, as coaches they were on a level.
The truth is I don’t want to get too excited about the possibility right now, because if we have gone with another candidate, it’ll feel like a disappointment even if it isn’t. Does that make sense? If we appoint Mark Kennedy, you and I don’t know if that’s a good or bad choice until October, when the league starts to take shape. The same goes for Carrick, or indeed anyone we’re looking at. Perusing their stats on Wikipedia is utterly pointless because what works here might not have worked elsewhere. Think about Steve Cooper; sacked by Swansea, he’s taken Nottingham Forest to the play-offs. We are a club with a certain model, one which spreads the load across different departments and whilst that might mean we’re heavier in terms of ancillary costs, it also means we’re not looking for a manager as such, but a head coach. Think of the MK Dons model, with Liam Sweeting and Liam Manning. Remember how Russell Martin left on the eve of the new season, and everyone wrote them off? Didn’t go badly, did it? Brentford were the same with their DoF, head coach model. Dean Smith left, Thomas Frank came in and nothing changed.
The key here is whoever we do go with, fans have got to get behind the manager, and not then move on to another scapegoat. I’ve seen Jez George battered a bit on social media, and Liam Scully, but these people do want the best for our club. I’ve seen last summer’s transfer business slated by fans, with Jez the scapegoat, but what of the season before, when we had a great summer? Or the winter before, when we signed Tayo Edun and Anthony Scully? They weren’t bad, were they?
I believe we’ll be going into the weekend with a new head coach at the helm and for the first time all week, part of me wonders if it might be Michael Carrick. I firmly believe it will be either him or Mark Kennedy, and whichever one it is, they have just got to get our backing. It doesn’t matter if their last stint as a boss, caretaker or otherwise, saw them pick Cristiano Ronaldo and go unbeaten in the world’s best division, or choose Fiacre Kelleher and win just one in 12 as Macclesfield sunk out of the Football League. We have to trust the board’s judgement, and back until given cause to do otherwise, rather than wait to be won over.