It’s been a few hours now since Mark Kennedy’s reign as Lincoln City head coach came to an end.
We’ve done a live show (as you’ll see below) discussing the situation, and there’s been plenty of comments flying around on social media. It’s a shame that just a few weeks ago, videos were getting hits, and my phone was red hot because of a cup tie against West Ham. One month later, the same is happening because a man has lost his job.
Over the next few days, there will be plenty to write about – I’ll be picking the best and worst games of the Kennedy era, analysing where it went wrong and looking at the future and who might fit the bill. For tonight, I wanted to get a few words out as the dust begins to settle, words that I think are important.
Whether you were Kennedy out or Kennedy in, one thing is for certain – nothing is black and white. There were aspects of Kennedy’s spell as gaffer that I really liked, aspects that were evident as recently as August when we tanked Wycombe 3-0. We clearly have a talented squad, and for a few weeks in the summer sunshine, it seemed like Mark was getting a tune out of them. I went to an event in the summer at the ground where sponsors met players, and the squad seemed really together, but it was perhaps telling that Mark was not at that event. Perhaps that’s why the squad seemed so together.
Over the next few days, people will lash out at Mark, others will defend him, and the middle ground is where the truth probably sits. We did do well last season; in some games, we looked quality, and we’ve had some great cup nights under his watchful eye – Sheffield United this season was a real high, and Bristol City last season another. Today, Mark was linked with the Ireland job, and that doesn’t happen if you’re bad at what you do. Some amongst us felt the football wasn’t great, and people may have read things like ‘the conductor now needs to get a tune out of the band’ from me recently. Still, those injuries have really let Kennedy down, and maybe this wouldn’t have been the conclusion the board reached if we’d got another six or seven points on the board. Still. Chris, a fellow podcast presenter, always defended the football, right up to Orient a couple of weeks ago. Even he had begun to change his mind.
If this were purely a football decision, Mark Kennedy would still be in his job right now. I don’t think this is about results at all. The players argued amongst themselves at Peterborough and again this weekend. Ethan Erhahon, a huge investment for the club, went straight down the tunnel after being taken off. Ethan Hamilton, another big investment for the club, is rumoured to have left straight after the game. Danny Mandroiu, another good investment for the club, was willingly thrown under a bus on Saturday. Sean Roughan, a player we hope to get a big fee for, was openly criticised post-match. even young Jovon was called out by the manager against Wolves after a prickly opening to his post-match interview. These are things that fans can see, and that has to have been a factor in today’s decision.
A club source has suggested to me there may have been some dissension behind the scenes amongst staff. Joe Hutchinson and Ross Burbeary both left last season, and I’m led to believe there may have been clashes with some staff members. One source even used the word ‘toxic’ to describe the club over the last few weeks, and that has to rub off on the players. This squad isn’t one that has had funds lavished on it, but there’s no doubt we’ve given it a go this season. If the head coach is holding that back, then the club have to make a decision.
A decision has been made, and as we know, we’re not in terrible shape in the league, so fans can’t really be left in any doubt that there is something more to it. A telling sign, for me at least, is the percentage of people who are not shocked. You’d expect, given that we haven’t sacked a manager in nine years and that Clive and the board stuck by MA during a tough time, that people would be surprised. However, I’ve had a few DMs and comments from people who have heard and seen things which have made them think this was not a big surprise.
I do genuinely wish Mark and Danny Butterfield all the best. I really liked Danny; he was down to earth and personable, and he too has lost his job, let’s not forget. The Kennedy era has some good memories for me, and it would be wrong to suggest that wasn’t the case. However, as I’ll examine in a retrospective of his spell in another article, it wasn’t always as good as it felt. Michael Appleton often got stick because he wasn’t Danny Cowley, but I do think some gave Mark Kennedy more slack because he wasn’t Michael Appleton.
These are interesting times, which brings me back to a quote from the late, great Terry Pratchett from his book interesting times. “There is a curse,” the quote begins. “They say: may you live in interesting times.” I love that quote and always roll it out when someone says these are interesting times. In this instance, I’m not sure interesting times are a curse at all. I think (and hope) they might just bring the final piece of a jigsaw the club have been piecing together for the last 18 months.