The Wait Goes On: Derby County 3-1 Imps

Credit Graham Burrell

The Imps have never won at Derby County, and that wait will continue after we were soundly beaten last night.

That’s not the wait I refer to in the title, though. No, that wait is the one for a fit striker to come in and give us a bit of gumption up top, a threat that exists outside of set pieces, penalties, and own goals. Sadly, with Walker, House, and Hackett out, we look toothless and struggle to lay a glove on teams in and around us.

Just a reminder – in and around us is the top ten in League One, which is where we’ll be at Christmas. We lost yesterday to a team that were expected to walk the league, who have players on big wages and regularly attract more than 20,000 supporters to games. It looked like David and Goliath last night, and it was. Or so I’m told.

Credit Graham Burrell

Yeah, full disclosure – I haven’t seen the game. The chopping and changing of the date so close to Christmas meant my plan was to watch on iFollow. Fe, my wife, is at her mum’s in Cambridge on Christmas Day, and I’m with my dad, so I want to make sure we spend as much time together as possible before the big day. When it came to watching or listening, that went out the window thanks to a 12-hour power cut from midday. I had to gently nurse my phone through the evening just to find out the score.

That means no analysis, no insight, and no falling on the side of the angry mob I’ve seen on Twitter or the happy clappers that are out there as well. I’ll offer an opinion on where we are, but not so much on the outcome of last night’s game.

What I will say is I find it amusing that the vocal minority on social media can go to Derby expecting nothing and then get angry when we come away with nothing. I find it amusing that a team who have lost just twice in the league under the new manager is already being questioned. I find it utterly hilarious when the usual ‘Jez George and Liam Scully’ stuff gets dragged out, as it does whenever we lose, from people who have neither met them, nor understand what their jobs entail. I find it sad that someone reading this will go on social media and start telling me it’s ‘not good enough, end of‘ as if their opinion is the only one that matters. It’s usually those screaming ‘opinion police’ who shut down differing opinions.

I didn’t see the game, but losing 3-1 is never nice. However, if you’d asked me what I thought would happen before the game, I’d have said defeat. Derby have such a good side with players like Hourihane, who should be in the Championship. Thanks to our injuries, we’re making do until the New Year with a few players who, I’ll confess, haven’t looked up to scratch in recent weeks.

Credit Graham Burrell

I find that challenging if I’m honest – the fact we knew we’d struggle for goals until New Year. “Just stay tucked in there” was the consensus, trying to stay in reach of the top six until w eget players back. We have, and yet a defeat at Derby, a team we haven’t played regularly since our foray in the Second Division in the fifties, signals a crisis. I say it signals a crisis. It doesn’t; it triggers people on social media who were frothing at the mouth after we drew 0-0 with Morecambe in 2018 (another game I missed, ironically) in the midst of unrivalled success that is now referred to as the benchmark. That’s their prerogative. I don’t want to get called the opinion police based on a game I didn’t see, but I’m not defending last night’s game. I’m defending where we are as a team.

Jovon – no, he isn’t a League One striker just yet. He’s 19 and has been thrust into a role that he isn’t suited for. Four weeks ago, people were calling Mark Kennedy everything under the sun for not giving Jovon a runout; now it’s Michael Skubala getting stick for playing Jovon. I see in Jovon a bit of potential, but of course he’s not a leading striker for a League One team right now. I then see criticism of us loaning Draper out and playing Jovon, but I guess three or four games for Freddie, and he’d be the victim of the abuse.

Credit Graham Burrell

Haks is another – I’ve watched the goals back, and yes, he gives the ball away for the third. I’m not surprised – he wasn’t good enough two years ago, nor a year ago, and he hasn’t improved. Yet, I’ve seen comments this morning saying ‘he was coming into form and was dropped’ – no, he wasn’t; he had one really good game against Charlton (Chris Maguire style) and has otherwise been playing out of position to cover the deficiencies in our squad.

I do have a criticism, which is aimed at recruitment – Firstly, I think any team at this level needs to carry four decent strikers. We haven’t done that in recent seasons, but this time out, we have – Jack Vale and Jovon are what we have left, but Walker and House were also part of the initial squad. Vale doesn’t suit our style of play, and Jovon, I’ve covered. I’d like to see a slightly more experienced striker around the squad, one happy to sit on the bench but also capable of filling a gap. Do they exist? Probably not, but that’s not my criticism. No, I think we’ve lacked decent players in wide areas. Okay, so we tend to play a tighter front three, but Mandroiu is proving to be inconsistent, Ted doesn’t impact games from the start, and Reeco (obviously) is injured. I feel we’re light there; Haks isn’t up to League One football right now, and for whatever reason, Shodipo, strong against Accrington in the first half, doesn’t get a look in. I know we’re steering away from loans, but a youngster from the Championship or top flight would have at least added depth.

Easy to say that now, with hindsight, after a defeat.

Credit Graham Burrell

I’ll watch parts of the game back later, probably see it differently to the vocal minority and choose to keep my mouth shut on Twitter. It’s the season of goodwill and all that, so arguing with strangers (or friends) on the internet isn’t my bag. I try not to these days. I have my opinions; they’re here, and people can choose to read them or not. I have chosen to read some on social media today, not liked them, and won’t engage any further.

Why? I enjoy football. I love Lincoln City. I try to see the positive; I try to understand what we need, where we have shortcomings, and what our strengths are. I know there are aspects of our squad and approach that aren’t working at the moment, just as I know there same is true of what does work. Arrogantly (perhaps), I trust my own opinion on Lincoln (not on much else), and I don’t feel the need to justify it beyond this article nor to disagree with any else’s opinion – they’re just as valid; they will trust their opinion just as I trust mine, so it’s better to sit back, crack open a Christmas can or three and just let sleeping dogs lie.

Credit Graham Burrell

So, the wait goes on. What are we waiting for? I’m waiting for players to come back, perhaps a couple of new faces to come in, to hopefully prove me right and show we are heading in the right direction. I guess some are waiting for the attacking football we were promised by Mark Kennedy and have been again by Michael Skubala. We wait for a win to sign off the year; we wait for something to change. Hopefully, all of those things will happen before we finally register a win at Derby County, which I’m not sure will happen in my lifetime.

Happy Christmas, and remember, it’s not as bad as you think. Really, it’s not.

Rate The Players

Next Page – Bubs’ Full Gallery