For any of you, like me, who has sat in a presentation with the Alan Partridge style person who is subjecting you to the death by PowerPoint experience…
For any of you, like me, who has sat in a presentation with the Alan Partridge style person who is subjecting you to the death by PowerPoint experience, there is one thing that fills the audience with dread. “Now remember the 7 P’s. Prior preparation and planning…” Alan then looks at his victims and then gestures for them to finish the sentence “prevents pathetic performance,” groan the audience, with as much enthusiasm as a visit to ‘My key to success – a 5 part lecture by Mark Cooper’. So relax, the 7 P’s I want to discuss have nothing to do with these…well…..not quite.
I will attempt to cover some points, from things mini Unbelievable Jeff and me have noticed this season so far.
Now let’s start with the elephant in the room. Not that I am saying that Paul is an elephant, nor even resembling one. The only thing that they have in common is that Paul wears pink and that the Toy Dolls, who sung the 1983 classic Nellie the Elephant, both originate from the Tyne. No, I am absolutely bewildered with the animosity directed to him following the defeat against Mansfield. For goodness sake, give the guy a break. Paul saved our hide no end last season, he has also produced some top saves this season. His distribution is generally excellent, and he carried on playing whilst clearly unfit last season. I just don’t get the Farman knockers. He is a decent keeper, and yes…I will say this, one of the best I have seen over the last 30 years at Sincil Bank. I am fed up with those balloon heads who bellow abuse at him. We as a team were at fault for the goal that Mansfield scored, end of. A goal keeper is a lot like a frontline batsman. One mistake and that’s it. People pour over the mistake and suggest everything that is wrong with the player. Yet the bowlers, or in footballing terms the strikers, have several chances a game and everyone they miss, they are clapped and mutterings such as “Obviously not their day!” are banded about. Yet if a keeper misjudges the flight of the ball people are lining up to put the boot in. I recall when the England wicket keeper, Johnny Bairstow, dropped a regulation catch at Lords against Sri Lanka in 2016, he was robustly criticised. A somewhat bewildered Bairstow came out and said “It’s just my bad luck. Out of the 300 or so balls I took today, that was the one I didn’t.” Yet for that one chance people were stating he wasn’t a good wicket keeper. Utter tosh. Face it, people make mistakes, the amount of time Paul has saved our bacon, far outweighs his errors of judgement. I repeat my earlier statement. Paul is one of the best keepers I have seen play for us in the last 30 years.
Now moving on. The pitch size. It’s a tad narrow, even for us at Sincil Bank. Some people have speculated as to why. Apparently it has been made that size to cater for our strengths. Fair enough. I have read a lot of arguments recently about the size of pitches and how important it is. When actually the conclusion, after reading a five thousand word theory on it, surmised “Essentially there is no conclusive proof that the size of the pitch actually makes that much difference.” I tend to agree with that, as it is not the size of the pitch, but the people that you put on it that actually makes the difference. I appreciate that this maybe a somewhat naive point of view, but essentially it is correct.
We’re a tad short aren’t we? Whereas 18 -19 players in the National League was around adequate, for the rigors of the Football League, we are around 6-7 players short, I would suggest. Fair enough, you can only play 11 at a time, but there are suspensions and injuries and other issues, which mean that you can be struggling quickly. I know that this will concern the management team and that they will be working tirelessly on the issue of strengthening the squad. We know they will be, as that’s what Danny and Nicky are about. They want to add value and ensure that they don’t sign donkeys on two or three-year deals. I am absolutely certain that they will be adding to the squad before too long. It does require something, which is not always in abundance when it comes to football.
Yes our old friend patience. Patience, of which all football fans and boards possess with abundance. Well, maybe not. I am staggered that some “fans” believe our glory days are over because we lost a match. Blimey. Why don’t we march on Sincil Bank and demand the heads of the Cowleys. OK, no one has suggested that, but the reaction of some of these fans, to the defeat against Mansfield has been nothing short of manic hysteria. Teams lose you know, the thing is that Lincoln under the Cowleys have lost very few. Even our very successful managers only have a win ratio in the 40% area. The Cowleys are well in to the 60% field. So the law of averages dictate, that at some stage you will lose. Yes it is painful to lose, of course it is, but often you learn far more about people when you aren’t successful. If you keep getting it right first time, you actually don’t learn much. Such as why you got it right. The Cowleys are teachers by trade. They know that you either get it right or not. When it doesn’t go to plan, they reflect, reassess and go again. It is important that way. Some people on a Facebook site have been bemoaning the loss, looking at certain people to blame (see above). Apart from Arsenal, the new fans have never seen Lincoln lose. Lucky them. Losing is part of the game, it’s not a pleasant part. Losing, however is sometimes necessary in order to refocus your efforts. In today’s society, patience has eroded. It has not been helped by the instant effect of social media. Things must happen now, not in one hour, next week or in a month…but now. What utter codswallop. Consider where we were 18 months ago, and reflect where we are now. If anyone said then that in September 2017 we would be in the top half of League Two, you would have seriously questioned their sanity. Have patience and enjoy the ride.
One thing that can be affecting home performances is pressure. It is wonderful to see so many at Sincil Bank. That can bring an additional psychological problem. Pressure. 9,000 plus people attend baying for blood and a Churchillian victory each week. The expectation is massive, and whilst the crowd can act as the extra man, it could have a negative effect if the players then pay too much attention to that massive expectation. They could be fearful of making a mistake and are too conscious of that fact, which bizarrely will then make them make that mistake. The reason for that is they could be thinking so much about not making a mistake, that they become obsessed with it, so the mistake occurs. Yes this is only a theory, but it is one issue of having such a large crowd, especially if the performance isn’t up to the crowd’s subjective idea of what performance they think it should be. I appreciate that this is a silly attempt at basic psychology, but it can put some players under a lot of pressure to play to expectations at home, where of course you are expected to win. Away from home, the pressure is off somewhat, in League Two the standard is higher. The expectation from the away fan is more like “It’d be nice to get something from the game.” Compare this to “Fortress Sincil Bank, we will win, no problem.” The players must feel this pressure, and sometimes it can prevent a free performance, like an away trip does. Of course this is just my confused considerations, but I hope most will try and appreciate my sentiments.
Pie and a Pint
To lighten the mood, I have to say how thoroughly impressed I have been with Liam Scully’s approach at the club. For years we have trodden water, with respect to enhancing the fan experience. From no hot water in the Library loos, to substandard hand dryers as well, and that’s before we get to the scran on offer, we have been somewhat neglected. So full marks to Liam’s new approach. It is a breath of fresh air, and I did jump for joy at the pie and pint offer. I admit I don’t drink though and when I purchase a pastry, we lose. Yet I am overjoyed for those who purchase these consumables and it has no bearing on the result. It’s about time we had these little, but important extras. Well done to Liam, carry on the great work.
Prediction For The Season
And finally, the time for the prediction for the rest of the season. Well I am not a betting man, and I never make predictions, as there are far too many random variables, but I reckon we will win games, lose games and draw games. It will be the roller coaster that is football. I do have a wish though, so bear with me on this. I want England to lose the Ashes in Australia. Cue rude gestures and words. Why would I say that? Well, if you consider the last two times we won the Ashes in Australia, they were 1986/87 and 2010/11. We all know what happened at the end of those seasons. For me a position in the top half of League Two would be a great achievement. Hell, I’d even take survival. I know the Cowley’s want more than just survival, which suits me. So, for one winter only I will be cheering on the Aussies, although a draw would do. Keep on cheering and keep on believing. The journey has only just begun, enjoy the ride.
A View From The Drain: Just Another Stunt – Part One
? Vital Lincoln City (@VitalLincoln) September 28, 2017