After Michael Appleton left the club, we looked at some of the players who might not be unhappy to see him leave.
There were a handful who might feel his departure has helped their cause for a first-team spot next season, but what now? Mark Kennedy has come in, who might benefit from his arrival from the current squad? It’s hard to pinpoint too many at this moment in time; after all, we don’t know a huge amount about Mark’s formation, or which players he will even have at the club, but I’ve pulled together a handful I think could see his arrival as a catalyst for their Lincoln City career.
Theo is the obvious shout, mainly because he is the one player in the squad who has played for the manager before. He appeared for Macclesfield in the games MArk Kennedy managed, playing in his only senior win as a manager to date, against Forest Green. He’s had a good season with Leyton Orient but had seemingly been written off by Michael before he returned. If Theo’s struggles were more to do with the manager than anything, then perhaps there’s a way back for him here? He performed well for Orient in the final few matches of the season, and there’s little doubt he’s going to spark some interest over the summer; could that interest be from our new Head Coach, rather than other teams? If Mark does prefer the 4-1-4-1 (which is a posh 4-3-3 I guess), then we’re going to have dedicated wide players again, and we know that’s Theo’s strength.
I’ve gone for Haks next for no other reason than Mark’s suggestion he likes to play with wide players. I know Haks didn’t have a good season and I know there were moments where you put your head in your hands at his effort (Morecambe away) or his lack of it (Carlisle in the EFL Trophy). However, I think there’s a player in there, and a new manager might be able to get a tune out of a player we know can do it at this level; he did for Scunthorpe and he can for us. If Mark does play a 4-1-4-1, without rampaging wing backs, then Haks would fit in on the right-hand side. Think back to the National League season, when we played a 4-1-4-1 and usually had a player such as Nathan Arnold on the flank, with Bradley Wood backing him up. Regan Poole could easily be a Wood-style figure in that setup, and I think Haks has the ability to torment defenders. I’m not saying he will, I’m not saying it’ll happen, but it could. Haks hadn’t fallen out of favour, he’d tumbled towards oblivion in those final weeks, not even getting minutes when Michael’s favourite worst enemy, Max Sanders. Max will be delighted to have a clean slate, but I think Haks might think there’s a way back for him. Remember, in this ‘awful’ season he had, Haks played 1630 minutes and had six goal involvements (three goals, three assists). That’s a goal involvement every 270 minutes or every three games. That’s more than Maguire (one every 290 minutes) and Tom Hopper (389 minutes).
Ted doesn’t;t need his career revitalising; he did okay and whilst he wasn’t always in peak physical condition, he managed plenty of games compared to some. He suffered from being played anywhere he was needed, I think I counted ten different positions last season, and whilst a versatile player is useful, you rarely see one thrive. For a player with his talent, he found himself stifled at right-back, and still did well. He knows our new Head Coach well; he came through at Ipswich with Mark as his mentor, and that means he’s likely to be a major figure for us next season. A lot of people want to write off next season, a lot of fans will put it behind them (despite some great results), and a few players might do the same. For Ted, it could be a stepping stone to a senior role in the attacking two in midfield, which is where a talent like his belongs. If, as many suggested last summer, he is a successor to Jorge Grant, he’s got to be played in the right part of the field. I suspect he’s less likely to be used as a makeshift this and that, and more likely to be deployed in the position he’s most effective.