1. First, there were those of us, including me, that were very unsure about MA taking over from the Cowleys. I for one just couldn’t see how anyone could improve on the level of success that the Cowley’s brought us. Then to compound my doubts MA cleared out all the established players that had brought us success and made it clear he was bringing in youngsters to develop and sell on. The quote in the back of my mind was “You never win nowt with youngsters”. How wrong we were. MA not only pulled together a decent squad with a great mixture of youngsters and a spine of experienced players and added some amazing loanees but hit the ground running and took most of us by surprise. MA clearly displayed his ability as a coach with his own style and tactics. The players clearly bought into it and played with a fluidity and freedom hardly, if ever, seen before in my 52 years supporting the Imps, even through the GT years. They just played some sublime football at times that was a joy to watch, even from a distance with I-Follow.
2. The unfortunate thing for the club and its progress was Covid, which not only impacted on the health of some players and officials but also robbed the players of the experience of our wonderful support. It was of course the same for every club this season. It’s impossible to say what impact the lack of our supporters may have had on the team and their overall position in the league, positive or otherwise. The pandemic also had an impact on the players by compressing the season, which resulted in 62 games played almost entirely at two a week, which clearly had an injury impact, particularly on the older players, and which affected the team in the latter part of the season. Even then they recovered enough to make a Wembley final in the POs. All in all, a fantastic season which proved to be a lot more successful than I predicted. We have established ourselves as a League 1 club capable of great things under MA, providing he, JG and others can attract the right players again. There is no doubt the club and its staff have established a fantastic environment to attract young players with tremendous potential from the very top clubs in the country.
3. Finally, a word for Clive Nates, Liam Scully and the rest of the Board for being such great leaders and allowing the playing side to do what they are best at. Their roles have had an enormous effect on the club. We’d been talking about being on a journey a year or two ago. Well, the journey has continued thanks to the leadership at the club and who knows what the next chapter holds. I’m just praying for a humungous lottery win so I can give some to the club for new players 😉. Can’t wait for the coming season. Up The Imps 👏👏
1. That Lincoln City Football Club has completed the transformation from an anonymous non-league club to a very focused and forward-thinking member of English football's third tier.
With due acknowledgement to the very real struggle for survival led and overcome magnificently and single-handedly by Bob Dorrian, the appointment of Clive Nates to the board of Lincoln City Football Club in February 2016 was the genesis of everything Lincoln City has become. The appointment of the Cowleys in May 2016 became the bridge back to the Football League, yet the re-establishment of Lincoln City as a Football League club is certainly due in part to the appointment of the back office football staff that we so often take for granted. Two individuals stand out:
a) firstly, the appointment of Liam Scully as CEO in June 2017 was a masterstroke in terms of the business side of the club. Well-spoken, inspirational and worth his weight in gold, Scully has placed Lincoln City at the forefront of current League One culture and in trying to direct the often idiotic EFL down the path of common sense. I am sorry for saying this Clive, but pay this man what is needed to keep him wearing his Lincoln City club tie.
b) we cannot ignore the contribution made by Jez George to the football side of the club. As a generic term, 'director of football' has no relevance unless his work is visible on the pitch. The sheer diversity of player within the current squad - everyone from a Dutch second division player to a striker from West Ham's development side - is due in no small part to the panoramic view to recruitment taken by Jez and his team. I am sorry Clive, but pay them what is required too.
2. That regardless of how good we think we are, we can always be better.
Brennan has gone, TJ has gone, Morgan has gone, Alex has gone. They are Imps no more, and relegation beckons.
But it isn't true, is it?
As uncomfortable as it may feel at this point, Blackpool were better than us and took what we considered to be our rightful place in the Championship. There are probably a thousand reasons why that happened, but ultimately - and I apologise for pointing this out - we were not good enough. They probably had better players than us.
Now, take a look at the 21-man squad that remains after the retained list was published. Good enough? Not by a long way. Finalised? Not by a long way. In fact, I would be very surprised if more than a dozen of those players make even a tiny dent in our League One team for 2021-22. There will be plenty of movement before the window closes on 31 August, and that is an exciting prospect.
Hull had better players last season. Peterborough had better players. So did Blackpool, and possibly Sunderland, Portsmouth and Oxford too. That tells us that the players are out there, we just need to identify them and explain that a full house of screaming Lincoln City supporters is a good place in which to play their football.
There is no reason at all why we cannot take a further step forward in 2021-22.
We can be better, and the infrastructure is in place to ensure that we will be.
3. That we should enjoy the good times while we can.
They say that form is transitory, but class is permanent. Unfortunately, that does not stand up to scrutiny too well from a Lincoln City perspective. Success is almost certainly transitory in our case, and failure is quite possibly the norm for those familiar with the last sixty years of Lincoln City's history.
When Lincoln City gained their place back in the EFL in April 2017, no one knew how it would go. The club has enjoyed four more years of almost unrelenting success since then, almost to the point of reaching the Second Division vacated way back in 1961. We have discussed momentum many times on Vital Lincoln City, we have compared the current era with Mid-Rhondda FC a century ago, and we have even compared the club's trajectory with the shooting star variety currently displayed by neighbours Grimsby Town. We may even have sniggered, even if privately.
But what lies ahead?
Will all of this be turned on its head within the next season, or less?
Will Michael Appleton leave for West Bromwich Albion, to be replaced by the dream team of Steve Tilson and Chris Sutton?
We hope not, but no one really knows for sure.
Perhaps we should simply forget the past, try to ignore the future, and enjoy this fantastic football club for what it is: a Football League club in the safe hands of some truly great people.