Its Official: Mark Kennedy is Imps New Head Coach

Credit Andrew Vaughan / Lincoln City FC

Mark Kennedy has been unveiled as the new Head Coach of Lincoln City after departing Birmingham City.

Kennedy takes over from Michael Appleton and comes to the Imps with a wealth of coaching experience and a brief stay as manager of Macclesfield Town.

Chairman Clive Nates, vice-chairman Jay Wright and senior director David Lowes along with chief executive Liam Scully and director of football Jez George, led the extensive recruitment process for the head coach position working to a clear profile of the person and qualities wanted to take the playing squad forward.

Imps chairman Clive Nates said: “Over the course of many hours of interviews, we have been hugely impressed by Mark’s knowledge, energy, drive and passion. We know that he is a highly respected coach, and in the interview process, he impressed us with his desire to improve and develop players while creating an aggressive, attacking style of play that we believe will be successful in League One and excite our fans at the LNER Stadium. We believe that Mark can flourish within our structure and help to create the culture and environment to maximise the potential of our squad.”

Mark first rose to prominence in the mid-nineties, when he left Mick McCarthy’s Millwall for Liverpool in 1995 for £1.5m. He was part of the infamous Spice Boys squad, the fresh-faced Liverpool side that grabbed lots of headlines, but for Mark, Anfield was not always a happy place. He struggled to impress himself on the team, playing just 16 Premier League games in an injury-hit four years with the club.

He then moved to Wimbledon playing 21 times in the Premier League, before joining Manchester City. He helped them to the Premier League with ten goals in 47 matches in 2000. In his later career, he turned out for Wolves, with whom he also earned Premier League promotion, as well as Palace and Ipswich. He represented Ireland 34 times, with Roy Keane the last manager to sign him at Ipswich. He later played under Paul Jewell, who offered him his first coaching role at Portman Road.

He was initially appointed first-team coach, but as he took his badges he realised he needed to step back into the youth setup and progress from the beginning. He did so under Mick McCarthy and was part of the Ipswich Town youth setup that brought through a crop of promising youngsters that included Ted Bishop. He was managing the Under 21 side right up to 2016, leaving the summer before our famous FA Cup victory.

He departed Ipswich for the next stage of his coaching journey, with Premier League giants Manchester City. Working closely with current England Under 21 boss Lee Carsley, he spent two years with City before leaving, having a brief stint as Sol Campbell’s assistant at Macclesfield. He then joined Wolves, where he replaced Rob Edwards as Under 23 coach, the same Rob Edwards who recently saw Forest Green promoted.

A yearning for a manager role led him back to Macclesfield Town, where he took over a sinking ship in 2019. The club were in freefall with no money for players or wages, and despite one win in 12, he did enough to keep them in the Football League, only for a harsh points deduction to send them down, earning Stevenage a reprieve. That prompted Kennedy to leave the Silkmen, and he wound up at Birmingham after another stint with Ipswich.

I know there will be some who see the appointment as (and I hate this word) underwhelming, and on paper it does feel a little out of the blue. That said, many thought we’d go with someone out of leftfield and currently, I have no reason to question appointments Clive and the board have made at the club, in management positions or otherwise. Mark has extensive coaching experience going back ten years and clearly chose to take a certain pathway when he could have been fast-tracked to the top by starting as a senior coach.

Whilst at Macclesfield, Mark preferred a 4-1-4-1 formation, not unlike Danny Cowley’s approach during his tenure here. That relies on a holding midfielder in the Liam Bridcutt mould protecting the back four, and two adventurous attaching midfielders willing to link play with a striker. It’s interesting that he did get a tune out of Theo Archibald, starting the player on both the right and the left. It is difficult to glean too much from his stint at Moss Rose, as the club had no money and he was working with a hand tied behind his back. It would be unfair to judge him on that time as well, although even I admit it doesn’t look inspiring.

Listening to Mark speak, he does sound like a man with a clear direction and ethos which he wants to work to, and I get the impression there is far more respect for him in football circles than some fans may credit. Whatever your belief, he is our head coach, and it will be him leading us into our fourth League One season on the spin. More reaction and discussion over the weekend.