A couple of hours ago the wonders of modern technology allowed me to pull up a chair in my own kitchen in rural Lincolnshire and watch the fans forum taking place at Sincil Bank. This sort of thing still amazes me, I remember a time my Dad used to call the bar at the ground to ask what the scores were before we had a teletext TV. Nowadays I can watch the unveiling of a new manager as if I was there. Kind of, my internet is pretty poor so I may have missed a few little bits.
The confirmation of Darren and Nicky Cowley’s appointment came just a few hours before they took to the stage in front of at least two live streams and a packed Centre Spot bar (is that what it’s still called?). I’ve never known such an open presentation of a new management team, and I’ve never known them paraded immediately in front of so many fans. I think that tells us that Bob and the board are delighted with their acquisition and wanted to shout it from the rooftops. Indeed when Bob Dorrian took to the microphone he was applauded and cheered. He joked how it made a change and for once you had to agree with him. He’s become a much maligned figure at he club as he tried to steer the good ship Lincoln City through the dirty waters left by the previous administration. He deserved his moment presenting the new manager and he deserved the applause of the fans, not just for this but for overseeing such a turnaround in the clubs fortunes.
Of course nobody had come to give the chairman his moment and that be that. Danny and Nicky took to the stage in matching white Lincoln City tops and sat somewhat reservedly at the top table. With Alan Long in his ever familiar role of compere the questions began, and as they did a new chapter in the Lincoln City story also began.
During the Q&A they mentioned how their teams always get stronger as a season progressed, but in the case of this forum they were very strong from the off. They answered questions succinctly and directly and were incredibly candid with their answers. They seemed like humble men although both very focused on their football ideology. They talked early doors about adding value to the club and enjoying the winning feeling. I expect after the past nine years in management that they do enjoy winning, they’ve done enough of it.
Danny spoke in depth about having a clear strategy and a definite style of football, and I think this was one of the most refreshing points they made. They want the team to play the sort of football that gets people off their seats, and they’ll give blood sweat and tears to make that happen. There is an awful lot of focus on hard work, but in the right areas. However this wasn’t just a few applause winning sound bites though, not some carefully scripted quotes to keep the assembled media happy. They spoke truthfully and passionately about what they want to do, and they had the fans believing them. They have me believing them.
They knew how many clean sheets City kept last season, and how many goals we conceded from set plays. They understand teams in our league and how to beat them, citing his strategy for the Grimsby play off first leg. They’d spotted the Cods are a possession team and chose to push the play through the players who take too many touches, namely Jon Nolan. That got a little laugh of course, and I’d wager money that Danny knew exactly what he was doing when he mentioned Jon Nolan and that they’d beaten Grimsby twice. It may not have been scripted, but if it were I doubt their answers could have been written any better.
The boys clearly understand Lincoln City and what they have to do in order to be successful. As well as bringing their model they’ll move up here (in a house given to them by the club) and we’ll see their mother at ‘every game’ cheering them on. These boys have family values but also understand they need to become part of the city and immerse themselves in the culture. Remember they’ve given up a combined 25 years in the teaching industry to attempt to implement their successful blueprint onto our football club. They’ve already started doing an audit on the staff and players, confessing to know about 25% of what they need to currently. If they were only first aware of the interest on Monday then they have certainly been working hard this week, perhaps harder than me stock taking. Perhaps. However the smart money suggests they have been in the frame for a little longer than that and maybe this has been on the cards for a while with the last week simply stage managed to ensure everything is kept respectful. However the possibility arises that had Braintree gone up then they may have stayed there, so perhaps our arch enemies Grimsby have done us a favour!
I really liked them talked about being able to replicate success if you knew how you’d achieved it. Danny Cowley struck me as another educated man like David Preece who takes time to understand the game and has the intelligence to see things from different angles and perspectives. That is why I championed Preece as the next manager, because I think in order to really be an innovator and a pupil of the game you have to be a clever man. Harry Redknapp gets his ‘success’ using tools available to him, but he’ll never be an innovator and industry leader like Arsene Wenger has been.Danny Cowley has the air of a man who is on a different level to the journeymen managers doing the rounds. Bob really did mean it when he said he wanted a fresh manager with a new and exciting approach. This time I have to say I think he’s got it right.
Of course only time will tell and Danny knows not to put undue pressure on the team. He thinks top 10 should be the minimum aim and after that you look at the next goal, and then the next goal each in bite sized chunks. It’s an age old management ‘trick’ if you will to set smaller achievable goals to grow confidence rather than one hard to reach target. If players (or in my case staff) have goals they can achieve then they’ll push harder to get there, and without realising it take pressure off themselves. Danny Cowley says he thrives on pressure, but doesn’t want the players to burden themselves with it unduly. Start by saying top ten, then play offs, then who knows? Champions? They reached third with a part time team training two nights a week, if they’re training everyday and dedicating themselves full time to their craft, who knows what might happen.
There’s a lot of things to be decided over the coming days, they’ll look at a retained list and I’d be very surprised if young players like Eliot Hodge were not on it. They’ll look into players eyes to ascertain how hungry they are, and I suspect they’ll see a fire burning in the eyes of players like Bradley Wood. They won’t be in any immediate hurry to replace Paul Farman though, the gushing appraisal of his character and personality as well as his ability will have had the popular keeper smiling this evening.
I know it’s early days and it is very easy to get caught up in hype, but there is no doubt Lincoln City FC have pulled off quite a coup by securing the services of these talented young men. They’re sports scientists and professors of their craft. They understand success doesn’t just come from a motivational speech and bigger wages than the next team. They know there is a pattern and a method to achieve success, a combination of both hard work and fully understanding how and why everything is happening on and off the field. I’m confident they can use that to bring success back to Sincil Bank.
Welcome to Sincil Bank Danny and Nicky, I am genuinely excited to have you leading our club on to the next chapter.
It’s also struck me that this is the first time the Lincoln City manager has ever been younger than me. I feel old and a small piece of me will always resent DC for that. Unless he wins the league, then I’ll forgive him. Or maybe the FA Trophy.