And not a moment too soon. I often wonder, writes David Agnew, how I can link two subjects I love, into a convincing juxtaposition. Call it my attempt at trying to desperately emulate one of my heroes, Paul Merton. Sadly, I don’t come anywhere near his standard of improvisation; I’m not even approaching the start line.
Still, I was given a challenge by a good friend to try and link the appointment of a new Head Coach for the mighty Imps and a question as to who (no pun intended) would play the 14th Doctor in Doctor Who. Challenge accepted. Pencils sharpened. Typewriter ribbons replaced, a cool refreshing glass of ginger pop, is fizzing in trepidation beside me and I am ready to start ruminating and begin. En garde Morbius.
I’ve never known a managerial change to coincide with speculation of who would be playing the next incarnation of our favourite Time Lord. So, I was fervent with desire that they would be announced on the same day. In fact, football management is not unlike Doctor Who. Barring those times an appointment is made that has people gushing with admiration and praise, quite often when the new person is wheeled out for all and sundry to see, there is division. They’re too young. They’re unknown. They’ve not had enough meaty roles. Or the plainly objectionable retort, “Who?”
Once in a Red and White striped Moon, we get someone whom brings about a “golden era”. People become misty-eyed, spectacle lenses turn to a shade of rose. They will tell all, that this was the time to watch. This was the zenith of their Saturday afternoon love-in.
When, in reality, rather than a classic vintage, a number of the outings are more like a table wine. For every joyful classic, there’s the odd raspy, wet, flatulent experience. You won’t hear a word against them as they were ‘your manager’ or, indeed, ‘your Doctor’. Every Saturday they went in to battle the likes of Mark Cooper’s Forest Green Rovers, or Davros. The two are actually quite similar, when I come to think of it. In fact Davros is eminently more preferable.
That insipid 2-1 home victory was as complicated and convoluted as Resurrection of the Daleks. That 1-0 away win was as dreary as Underworld and they made us stay out in the rain too. Some people forget our enthralling, breath-taking 5-3 Christmas 2019 win, against Ipswich, that really made me love the way Michael set us up. The scent of a hog roast, from the Fan Zone, gently wafting over the ground. The indication that there was more than one thing having the stuffing knocked out of it. Or indeed the outrageous rousing 3-1 victory, against a moribund Sheffield Wednesday. They were like Genesis of the Daleks and Caves of Androzani moments. Magical moments that belong in our “best ever outings”.
Before Michael, the incumbents in the role was a distillation of Tom Baker and David Tennant as Managers. We had the marvellous Cowley brothers. Yet like Messrs Baker and Tennant, some of their efforts are best not worth repeating. The script sometimes felt “phoned in” particularly at the end of their tenure.
What followed was someone who was incredibly capable, but whom was dealt a bad hand. A global pandemic, players being recalled, injuries galore, players being promised and then being withdrawn. This is akin to poor scripts, storylines and chaos behind the scenes. There is a degree of a fan backlash, demanding that not only the person in the lead role be replaced, but the entirety of the behind the scenes staff too. Just because, well just because this incumbent didn’t jump up and down, like Rumpelstiltskin, and offer everyone a Jelly Baby.
I was sad to see Michael go, as I felt he was my kind of manager. Just like Peter Davison was my Doctor. Both had larger than life, energetic and unpredictable predecessors to follow. No matter how much they worked their socks off, it was never good enough for some. Never those golden era days. Never the passion visible that the role required, hampered wherever they went, owing to factors beyond their control. No surprise then, when after three years at the helm, there was a parting of the ways for both Michael Appleton and Peter Davison, in their respective roles.
Now, after speculation about anyone whom has ever picked a side for a football team, or was in possession an equity card, a new dawn is here. To Mark Kennedy and Ncuti Gatwa, I wish them the absolute best in their different but similar roles, trying to please all of the fans, all of the time. I know very little about either of them, but quite often the better leads are the lesser well known. They seldom fail to approach the role in a fearless, energetic way. Giving their all for their fans.
Yes, it was the end for Michael, but the moment had been prepared for. His song has ended now, but the story never ends.