Yesterday saw the hunt for a new manager reach a natural conclusion, with Michael Skubala taking over at the club.
Skubala is an interesting appointment, a man with a strong coaching background and a unique journey to the Imps dugout. From the World University Games in 2011, through a different game entirely (futsal) and into the England Under 18 job, Skubala is unconventional by historic standards but perhaps a better fit for us than many may see at first. The majority of his senior football experience comes from a spell at Leeds with the Under 21s and even a short time in the dugout as caretaker manager.
What do we know about Skubala? He’s a good man-manager, a coach praised by the likes of Patrick Bamford during his time in charge at Elland Road. The futsal background means Skubala has coached attributes such as confidence on the ball, receiving a pass under pressure, decision-making in 1v1 situations, and ball retention. He will likely want to play a fast, attacking brand of football that works with an intense press but also encourages individual excellence, expression, and creativity.
That is in sharp contrast to Mark Kennedy, who made us good without the ball, something we’re still likely to be. It’s also in contrast to Michael Appleton, who preferred a slow and methodical build-up and tended to steer away from fast attacks if it led to much risk. We could be heading into the realms of Keegan’s Newcastle, Ardilles’ Spurs, or we could be on the cusp of seeing Schofield’s early 06/07 Lincoln. Who knows?
If Akubala sticks to the principles that have brought him to Lincoln City, then I think there are a clutch of players who could really benefit from his arrival. I’ve picked out four that I think could be exactly what Michael Skubala is looking for in his team and, as a result, who could play a big role in the future of the club.
If we’re talking about expression, freedom to be creative, and confidence, then I think we’ve got to cite Mandroiu as being one of the biggest potential winners. Whatever has happened over the last couple of months, the fact remains that Mandroiu is one of our most talented footballers. He’s got an eye for a pass and often tries to be brave. There were a few times on Saturday when he came on that he tried a ball, which others perhaps would not. In my eyes, he’s one of a few players that can get you off your seat with a pass.
That could make him one of Skubala’s key generals, especially if we do go to a 4-2-3-1, which creates the potential for both a number ten, and a left winger, both of which Mandroiu is suited to.
This may be a bit of a reach on my part, possibly something I want to happen rather than something that will happen. I think Shodipo could be Skubala’s type of player – under him, Sean McGurk has thrived in the Leeds U21 setup. It suggests Skubala likes a winger, one with pace and a bit of an unpredictable nature, and that’s Mide all over. I like him because every game he plays, he gets a chance, even if he’s only on for a minute. I can see Skubala liking that, and if he does shift to a formation with wide players, Mide could be one of only a couple we have that are out-and-out traditional wingers at heart.
He’s on a short-term deal, but the slate is wiped clean to a degree. If Skubala likes what he sees, the former QPR man might be in line for a rise to the first team once again. Not before time, either.
Oisin is on loan at Peterborough Sports right now, but they’re on quite a run with him in the team. In fact, in the seven games before he joined, they won one, drew two, and lost four. In the seven games since he’s been there, they’ve lost just once, won four (all to nil), and climbed out of the bottom four of the table. He’s doing well, and whilst our 3-4-3 doesn’t really have a place for him, a 4-2-3-1 might. He could feasibly play alongside Ethan Erhahon in the middle of the park, sitting as part of the two in front of the defence, with Ethan Hamilton playing the advanced midfield role.
Also, with Skubala’s focus on youth and player development, there’s surely going to be a hope that some of our young players begin to get more of a chance, and that could mean finally seeing what the fuss is about around Oisin.
Already, the click-inducing ‘three players Michael Skubala should sign from Leeds‘ articles have landed, and one of those focuses on Sean McGurk, a 20-year-old left winger who likes to get on the ball, beat players, and has thrived under Skubala’s watchful eye. That’s all well and good, but it does sound a lot like we’re describing one of our own players, 20-year-old Dylan Duffy.
Skubala will have done his homework and watched a few of our matches, I get that, but he said he’s been at the last couple of matches. If that’s the case, he’s seen the very best of Dylan Duffy, which is a great starting point for the young Irish winger. A shift in formation would suit him in the same way it would suit Shodipo, and a more attacking style of play would also fit the youngster’s profile. I have a feeling we might get to see a lot more of Duffy over the coming weeks.