Agnew’s Angle: Rushing Headlong Out of Control

This is a guest post provided by a reader and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stacey West

“Rushing Headlong Out of Control, but there ain’t no stopping. There’s nothing, no there’s nothing you can do about it at all.”

Happy New Year, my fellow Imps. Nothing like a bit of classic Queen to typify our predicament at present writes David Agnew. What a year it is proving to be so far. We have just recovered from Christmas, and it would appear that the festive soup has deluged into the laundry bag. The roof is leaking, and if I am being totally petty, I could claim that we are Freefalling. So, it has left me in a bit of a quandary, and I am faced with so many questions. In fact, there are perhaps more questions than answers. Indeed, the more I find out, the less I know. What has happened to us? Why do we constantly find ourselves in this apparent circle in a spiral, a wheel within a wheel, a door that keeps revolving in a half-forgotten dream? Are we simply meandering in a clueless manner towards oblivion, like a snowball down a mountain? Please, dear reader, bear with me whilst I muse over some things.

Credit Graham Burrell

Who Will Buy?

We have 11 (ELEVEN) players out. That is the most in the 92. Eleven players is a full team, in case you really needed me to spell it out. This is an absolutely huge figure. Why are we in this position? Is there an issue with our recruitment? For the last three seasons, we have been plagued with injuries. This has such a detrimental effect on our playable squad. It means that they will make themselves more susceptible to picking up in-game injuries and be forced to play on, as there is not a lot of cover. Are we signing more injury-prone players? You only have to look at the careers of Reeco, Teddy Bishop, and Tyler Walker and see that in the past few years, they have been blighted with injuries. Yes, while they are on the pitch they are more often than not quality players, but if we can only get a certain amount of time from them, are they the most effective players we can have in a squad? if we are always battling to get them fit, is that a worthwhile investment?

It has been confirmed that we are able to sign these players because they are cheaper, owing to their injuries. Would I prefer a journeyman seasoned pro, over an injury-prone player. Well, perhaps. This is where I get wibbly wobbly on the point. If a seasoned pro is able to provide leadership and can play 40 out of the 46 games a season, and is able to make an impact and provide the necessary leadership. I would, in fact, prefer them to someone of whom we may get 15 or 20 games from. A Michael Bostwick figure, for example. Yes, they may be more expensive, but sooner or later, your luck of gambling on players such as Neal Eardley is going to run out. It would appear that we have reached that stage. Is it a fundamental flaw in our recruitment? I’ve heard Jez George speak passionately about the young players that the club are attracting. Yet, I can’t help but think that we are promised that Player X is the next best thing when in fact, it turns out that they are, quite frankly, bobbins. Should our recruitment be focused on others? Have we got too much of a fascination with the League of Ireland? Would it not be better to balance out the recruitment between more seasoned pros and up-and-coming talent? You know a Matt Rhead figure alongside a young striker, for example. Something, somewhere, needs to change around our recruitment system as, so far, it feels like it is in danger of failing. The responsibility of which, as much as I like him, lies clearly with Jez and his team.

Credit Graham Burrell

Out Of Touch – Out of Time?

This next query really pains me. It is the one question that has been stabbing the back of my mind and

No matter how much I desperately want it to leave, it keeps haunting me like an ex-lover’s taunts. Is this the last roll of the dice for our Chairman, Clive? What? I can almost hear the bile rising from thousands of throats, but please wait for my explanation. Bare statistics do not lie. They cannot, as they are raw numbers. Should Michael Skubala’s time prove to be unsuccessful, and let us face it, it has hardly been amazing, has it? Unsurprisingly, really. It is like giving someone the keys to a supermarket, for them to find that all they have to sell is mixed frozen vegetables, cheese slices and crab sticks. Should the situation remain the same, then it will be three people whom Clive believes will take the club forward to the next level, who haven’t. Will people then start to question his acumen in bringing in the right person to take the club forward? I honestly think that some people will. Sadly, I really do. The rest of us will remember that, for if it had not been for this wonderful man, we would be still languishing God only knows where. Yet, football is a fickle business and it is a results business. I do have faith in Michael Skubala, but he has the body language of a defeated man. Well, wouldn’t you? He has an impossible task at present.

For goodness’ sake, he has a whole first XI available to him. He has the limited assets to sell what he has available. There are only so many crab sticks you can eat! Even with a nice vegetable medley. We can’t expect to compete with a rival, whom is virtually fully stocked. In fact,  I’ve seen comments that even Pep would struggle with our squad, Undoubtedly he would.  We are missing a spine, we have no backbone, no grit and no determination. Some people have called out Clive and said, “You got it wrong mate; you should have chosen Danny and Nicky Cowley.” They work with what they’ve got and have a proven record of getting clubs out of the mire. Experimentation with U23 coaches is OK, if you want to try it, but the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

Well, that is just one point of view, but how can we honestly believe that Clive got this decision wrong, when we don’t know what is wrong. I don’t doubt Michael’s experience at the various levels of coaching, but this isn’t U23 football, futsal or any other level. Has he the ability to cope with League One football? Well, time will tell. It always does, but if you think that Clive and the board will sit idly by, twiddling their thumbs, not fearing the relegation reaper, then you can think again. We do not have an impotent board, nor do we have a tirgger happy one such as Watford. To appoint someone with no league football experience of managing a football league team, mid-season for me was an incredibly brave and forward thinking decision. It is risky, but so is every signing every appointment. Would it have been better to offer the Cowleys a contract to the end of the season and then reassess at that stage? Who knows, but that didn’t happen. Is there an issue with the system that the club have adopted? Possibly, but again if needs to be changed – for the short term, then I have total faith in Clive and the board will act.

Is it right that some should point the finger at Clive? Perhaps, or perhaps not, but he is the Chairman, and the buck really does stop with him. Can we afford to ignore the warning signs running around our minds? I have spoken to a number of long-time supporters. We generally fear that, if we are not careful, this season has the feeling of both 1987 and 2011, but then again, we have been round the block so many times, and we are generally shocked when Lincoln does. So, take our fears with a huge pinch of salt.

Send in The Clowns

My final look is at us. The collective fanbase. Have we become entitled? Are we part of the problem? Absolutely we are. There aren’t many of us who will remember our last day of the season victory in April 2016. Only 2001 of us do, and I was heavily sedated on nerve pain medicine at the time, so take that number down to 2000. I was present physically, but that was about all. Our club finished 13h that season, despite being second at Christmas. Those were the days when 3000 was a bumper crowd. Not anymore. Our crowds have increased fourfold from that Easter Monday attendance eight years ago, and with that comes something ugly. Expectation and entitlement. For we are Lincoln City, we won three trophies in three years and got to an FA Cup Quarter Final, too. Yes, we did, and it was electric. It was a superb time to be a fan. Everything went for us, and we expected to roll over anyone in our path.

Brilliant, eh? Well, it would be, if we weren’t stuck in a dream. In our 140-year history, that is the greatest success we have ever had. We have had other good periods, some great odd years, but never three in three. With that came the mistaken belief that we would be able to storm League One too. That is the problem. We need to accept, that even with our current generous investors we will not be able to compete with the likes of Derby, Bolton, Barnsley, Reading, Portsmouth and Charlton, all of whom have been in the Premier League recently. The reality is that we simply do not have the pockets to compete with them, we have what we have, and unless Harvey and Clive can persuade the Mega Bucks family to join us, then we never will be able to match their eye-watering spending. We will have to accept that being a regular League One team is perhaps our level. That occasionally we may achieve great things, but in reality we have to accept our place in the pyramid. Now, I am not saying we should not be able to dream. Of course, we can. Yet, we really do need to accept the reality of the position we are in. Mindless idiots attacking our CEO when he is out with his family, or suggesting that there is a bizarre dictatorial situation occurring whereby Liam and Jez are presiding over matters to the detriment of the club. Have you ever heard such arrant nonsense? It would be troubling if it were, but it isn’t. The keyboard warriors must have something ridiculous to spew and it seems that they have found two people to wrongly target. My message to you “warriors” is pure and simple. Grow up, give your head a wobble, have a cold shower and then realise what a complete nincompoop you really are. Honestly.

The Show Must Go On

And indeed, it must. We have a month to see how we can patch up our squad and offer Michael something else but his vegetable medley, cheese slices and crab sticks, We have a good break before our next game at Wycombe, then two really great local derbies to look forward to at home. Will it be a challenge? Absolutely it will, but we as a fan base must unite and be whole. Yes, there will always be some naysayers who will moan if we don’t win 8-0 every game, They will moan that we should have scored nine, We need those people to be drowned out, We need people to shout and cheer on our team. Backs ti the wall, chests out and show others that we won’t be rolled over. For those of you who are still doubting naysayers, remember this. Success doesn’t happen in a straight line.