THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

17 October ~ Another season at Sincil Bank, another manager gone, and another fresh hell. I don’t believe any Lincoln City fan honestly thought that it was going to be easy getting back into the Football League, particularly at the first attempt, but no one sensed that the club would be in the relegation zone of the Blue Square Premier come mid-October. Steve Tilson’s sacking at the start of last week came as no surprise given how the wretched form that saw us relegated from the Football League has continued. Victory over Alfreton under caretaker boss Grant Brown was just our fourth this term. Even the most patient of fans knew that Tilson’s time was up following the 4-0 thumping by Tamworth.

With former League clubs such as York, Grimsby and Darlington, to name just three, still languishing in the BSP, no one was under any illusion that it would be tough to get back to League Two. Money for transfers was always going to be at a premium and while the club isn’t in the dire straits it was about a decade ago, chairman Bob Dorrian admitted to the Lincolnshire Echo last week, that the club was "struggling" financially and "not breaking even on a weekly basis".

On the face of it, the appointment of Tilson seemed like a very good one. Chris Sutton had walked out on the club, and we had an experienced man in charge that had got Southend promoted from League Two into the Championship. Indeed, come mid-March, relegation fears seemed to have disappeared following a 2-1 win against Southend. After that, though, our season crumbled. We took just two points from the remaining 11 games and never showed any sense of fight or team spirit.

A number of new faces were brought in for this season. The signing of former loan player Josh Gowling was impressive. He was installed as captain and appeared to show the leadership that has been badly lacking on the pitch. Sadly, his appearances have been sporadic this season due to injury, and our defending has been at times shockingly bad.

Another new arrival, Alan Power, has caught the eye in central midfield and with pacey Gavin McCallum still with us, whoever takes charge this week has players with ability at his disposal. What we need from the new manager is someone who can instil belief, spirit and, I hate to say it, passion into the players. It is something that the late Keith Alexander managed to do with little or no budget and largely with players with non-League experience.

The new manager will have until the end of the season to stop the slide and to keep us in the top tier of non-League football. Thoughts of consecutive relegations have not entered my mind, and I simply wouldn’t be able to wrap my brain round the horror of it all. Bob Winckworth

Comments (4)
Comment by drew_whitworth 2011-10-17 13:00:33

You say yourself that the team lacks 'passion', 'spirit' - is that all it is? Or is it a sign that, genuinely, the standards between the two levels have in fact equalised? I'd be interested to know whether you & fans of other recently-relegated clubs (Stockport, Mansfield, Grimsby, whoever) think that there is still a sense of overconfidence affecting teams who have dropped down to the conference. Very few now seem to bounce straight back up (I think Shrewsbury were the last, a few years ago now, though I am prepared to be told I'm wrong on that), and I also don't think any promoted Conference side have ever come straight back down, all seeming to have lasted at least 4 or 5 years. And all those former League teams in the Conference can surely still count on a level of support that is at least the equal of many current league teams, and probably more than several (I'm thinking Morecambe, Burton, Accrington for example - all of whom are well-run teams but have a support base that is surely rather less than Luton, York, Grimsby, Lincoln for example).

So maybe we should see League Two and the Conference as very much the same standard of football these days?

Comment by robw 2011-10-17 14:17:26

I don't know whether it's a problem something that can be levelled at Tilson himself, but the last two months of last season and this season there just doesn't seem to be that spirit, that fight. Maybe he just didn't have the players, although he did let Scott Kerr go, which was very strane. We were brushed aside physically and out fought by Braintree. At least on Friday against Fleetwood we showed some bite, particularly in the first half that just hasn't been there. Incidentally Fleetwood played some great, tidy football and certainly i'd say that there isn't much difference in standard from what i've seen.

Comment by ingoldale 2011-10-17 17:08:58

Drew - I support Grimsby and I'd say that the gap a the top isn't much different but at the bottom of the Conference there is a big difference with League 2. Increasing professionalism (17 teams this season) has rendered it a little more competitive and this shows with the teams that have gone straight up of challenged - Yeovil, Carlisle, Oxford and AFC Dons and Crawley this season.

Regarding the article. What's happened to Lincolnshire football?!?! Scunthorpe the only ones flying the flag in the Football League. Let's hope Boston and/or Gainsborough get promoted so we have an extra derby to look forward to next season! As it doesn't like the Town or the gImps are going anywhere.

Comment by Lincoln 2011-10-18 09:49:14

Kieth was a great manager but his key was getting Non League players in to play league football, he would not be able to do that now. What we need is a manager who wants to live in Lincoln and does not need to be given hods of cash to do well. Easy.

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