The Imps’ hunt for a new head coach is expected to ramp up this week despite there being nothing official in the public domain.
With Tom Shaw currently on seven points from nine, there seems to be little rush to find a successor, but the truth is results are unlikely to have sped up or slowed down the process. What happens, and how it happens, is likely to have been set the moment Mark Kennedy left the club and is likely to be unaffected by external influences. Tom has done very well, and our form certainly won’t be completely ignored, but I imagine it will simply be another tick on his application. This decision will be considered and handled with as much care as that of an incoming player. Rush it, and you end up with a Chris Maguire. Take our time, get it right, and we end up with an Ethan Hamilton.
It is my understanding that a flexible and fluid list of names is being considered. However, I also understand that some potential candidates are going to be met this week, and from there, a ‘final’ shortlist may be put together to take forward. The truth is after tomorrow’s game, we have 11 days until Port Vale visit the Bank. Okay, there are two cup games in there, both at home against League Two opposition, and whilst we wouldn’t take those lightly, it feels like a bit of a buffer for the head coach search. That’s not to say we’ll have someone in situ by then – the international break on November 18th could be crucial, depending on the calibre of candidates and where they’re from.
Who do I expect to have made it to the initial discussion stage? I have a clear list of people I do not expect to be on the list – Karl Robinson, Joey Barton, Steve Cotterill, and Nathan Jones all spring to mind. I absolutely do not expect them to be interviewed, not because they’re bad people (well, some of them aren’t), but because they don’t fit what we want or what we need. We’re far more likely to go for a Kieran McKenna than a Mick McCarthy, a new face over an old hand. The same goes for any number of the known names I’ve seen lumped into the discussion.
That’s not to say there won’t be a manager or two on the list who may have been in charge at this level. I do expect names such as Danny Cowley might be considered. I think it would be remiss of the club not to consider Danny for the reasons I listed previously. We’ve got to find a fit for the club, and who better than someone who helped give birth to the modern Lincoln City? I also expect Stephen Bradley to be on the list, no matter what he is saying in the Irish press. There will be a few names we might not have considered as well, but I think the general profile of who we are looking for is fairly widely accepted now.
I find it highly likely Tom will be on a shortlist somewhere, and whether he is successful or not this time, I firmly believe we do have a future planned for him here at the club. It’s tough because if he were to become the assistant head coach, he could then become tainted by the incumbent of the head coach role. David Kerslake and Danny Butterfield both left their jobs when the main man went, so I expect if Tom were to step aside for a new man, we might not see him in the assistant role – I suspect he would blend back into the backroom staff and eagerly await his turn. Remember, we have a succession committee, and that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re looking outward. I refer a lot to Brentford, and their model involved a man simply stepping up when another left. I wonder if that’s our ultimate aim.
In real terms, there’s no rush. The aim when the strikers got injured was to stay in sight of the top ten (in my opinion, not officially), and the aim when Mark Kennedy left was to stay out of the bottom six (again, in my opinion). How the last ten days have developed has probably made those in charge feel a little better about taking their time and getting the right man. When DC left, results suffered, and we perhaps needed a little less haste. When MK came in, we needed to shape a squad, and there was maybe a little more urgency than there is now. We’re in a decent place. Tom is proving to be a great caretaker, and that means the process can be conducted thoroughly, diligently, and, hopefully, delivering the best outcome not for the immediate future but the long-term progression of our football club.