Danny Cowley remained upbeat in yesterdays press conference after Tuesday night’s 1-0 defeat at Tranmere Rovers, preferring to focus on the positives ahead of tomorrow afternoons home game against Crewe Alexandra.
Tranmere game: DC pointed out that whilst he never wants to lose he learnt lots from the game and the first half was probably the best 45 mins since he has been at the club. City dominated possession, spread the play and got the ball wide – behind their midfield and defence with fast accurate passing. In hindsight (as good as first half was) DC had still identified three areas that could be improved including wide free-kick delivery into the box. When a team dominates as much as Imps did they have to get value and ‘we’ didn’t do that but he could not fault the players as they had tried so hard throughout the whole match. It is unrealistic at this level to expect to dominate for 90 mins and DC took the view that he had to really credit Tranmere for their second-half performance particularly their energy levels. DC noted they made the tactical tweak of taking off a striker and bringing on another midfielder but it was still very disappointing to concede to their first shot on target. After they scored Tranmere dropped deep and clogged up midfield leaving little space to play. DC had responded by bringing on Matt Rhead (best target man in L2) to counter that but the ball had to go longer as Tranmere were using McCulloch in front to screen the ball into Matt’s feet. City put some good delivery into the box but it just didn’t come off. Whilst noting that Tranmere committed 18 fouls in the first half DC was clear that he didn’t see anything cynical in that it was simply a consequence that Imps had so much good possession. He was more surprised that there was only 1 minute time added on for all the fouls and overall the ball was only in play for 51 mins. – significantly less than other matches this season. Going forward DC took much learning from the game. He explained how learning is a dynamic process including new match situations experienced be it from the variables of weather conditions, opponents systems or simply the score. Having encountered a new issue DC goes away and rehearses for a repeat scenario via the training ground and he is happy he has found a way post Tranmere to exploit those tactical changes.
Player Psychology: Regarding any criticism after defeat DC reminds his players not to read social media or message boards. Harry Anderson’s Nan was in focus once more as he told DC that whilst he didn’t read social media his Nan did and told him what people were saying. DC emphasised how everybody was working really hard to create a two-way family atmosphere between players and fans and families had each others back whereby he wanted everybody to see the best not worst in the players. It was disappointing when players, therefore, got criticism from within that environment but he accepted there would always be some critics who were entitled to an opinion but it was a very tiny vociferous minority at Lincoln. DC noted that all the players were very individual and responded to different things – arm round shoulder, rocket, DC being calmer and some players didn’t need anything, the latter being the easiest to manage. Some players needed different things on different days; man management is an art and DC is working on it but quipped he didn’t know if he was there yet.
Crewe: DC still wakes up in the night and really feels the pain from the performance following the corresponding fixture last year. It is probably one of the worst examples of the few times in his managerial career when one of his sides have let him down. However, DC overriding memory is the positive of the supporters staying with the team. Loyalty is hard to find in football and when ‘you’ do it is important to repay it. At the forefront of his mind is City owe the supporters a really good performance after last year. DC has watched Crewe twice this season who thoroughly deserved their win at Swindon. They very much play to the strengths of the players at their disposal which is to move the ball quickly utilising good individual players within the format of a side that have a good understanding of teammates movement. Once in the final third Crewe have attacking players with the ability to unlock defences. DC has a really good selection problem as Pett, O’Connor and Frecklington are all in really fine form and he could, of course, play all three.
Goalkeeper situation: DC was a little circumspect but it sounded like Sam Slocombe is staying at the club. He talked about the importance of Grant Smith getting games and also balancing the books so Grant may have to go on loan. Josh Vickers had come through three games in a week very well.
— Vital Lincoln City (@VitalLincoln) October 5, 2018