Saturday, 7 January 2012

Lincoln City’s joyless Christmas

It seems Lincoln City fans must have been bad boys and girls this year, as any that asked Santa for a resurgence in form and a few points in the bag have been left sadly disappointed.

I stopped blogging individual match reports before Christmas, and to be honest it has saved me from writing a lot of depressing words as City have slumped to defeats against Grimsby twice and today York City, scoring only two goals yet conceding seven.

One thought struck me today as I was sat watching the second half slip away - player for player, Grimsby and York aren't better than City.  The ability on the ball of players like Power, Platt, Taylor and Laurent is as good as any in this league.  The difference, as I see it, has been down to 3 very important things which City are lacking:

1) Work ethic

Although I will stop short of calling City’s current crop of players lazy, the energy shown by York today to keep closing down and deny us time on the ball shows just how much more City players could be doing to stop the opposition playing.  There is a tendency for players to get close to the opposing player, but never really get close and apply relentless pressure.

The same applies when attacking.  A York break resulted in the midfield bursting to get forward and support the attack.  A City break more often than not results in the ball being supplied to the striker, who is then left to fend for himself.  This brings us neatly onto...

2) Movement off the ball

Time and time again City’s attacks are breaking down because the player with the ball isn’t given options by his team-mates.  This leads to the ball being lost either because the player can’t beat three defenders by himself, is forced into trying an ambitious pass that fails, or is forced to head back towards his own goal or hoof the ball long.  It's as if the players think that once someone else has the ball, then their responsibility for what happens next has ended.  That shouldn't be the case in a team where all the players are supposed to be playing for each other.  Goals in this league come from good team play and movement far more than from moments of individual creative brilliance.

3) Communication / leadership

Lincoln City simply don’t seem to have a leader on the pitch.  Josh Gowling seemed to come close to this role, but the loss of the captain’s armband and his constant dropping from the team has eroded this.  The role of Scott Kerr for York today, constantly chivvying and directing his team, made it obvious just how much we have missed him or someone of his ilk.  The Scott Kerr haters just don’t seem to understand that Kerr wasn’t invaluable to the Imps because of his passing or tackling, he was invaluable because he is an intelligent player and a leader.  The most talking City players seem to do nowadays is when they try to decide who was at fault for yet again not picking up the striker who has just scored a tap-in against us.

Unlike some City fans, I also refuse to blame referees for the defeats.  Yes, the referees against Grimsby at Blundell Park and today against York weren't great and made some rather dodgy decisions which went against the Imps, but come on, people.  City were poor in those two games, and would have lost no matter what the referee did.

Let’s just hope that next Saturday’s FA Trophy tie against Carshalton Athletic can result in a win and a confidence boost that we can carry into the league.

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