Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Out of ideas? - Lincoln City vs the Mighty

Wake really early. Get away. What else is there to do. Might as well tick off the seconds to death somewhere else eh?

From west to east. Upwards. Steady climb. Patchwork fog over Saddleworth. The world smudge grey then suddenly light. Dark heather ripe with dew, thrown into instant contrast before the fog claims the view again.

Motorway bridges can be magnificent. 20 miles of nothing then a perfectly formed arch hangs between steep sides. Another twenty miles. The aerial sprawl of a junction where concrete pathways that seem to be heading skyward interlace and shoot off in different directions before curving gracefully back to earth. A sculptural moment of choice.

Downwards now. Post industrial sprawl gives way to fenland. Coppices and hedgerows the only thing that disrupts a land so flat in looks as if it's been rolled. Deeper into it now and an occasional recurring but endlessy varying pattern of hay bails and cut straw serve to colour the landscape like abstract modern art.

If I believed, I'd say such mornings are like stepping into a gallery of God's work. I don't, so 'it's just mad what shit there is when you remember to look' will have to do.

Lincoln. I can't work it out. It's full of trendy farmers. High fashion UKIP. I love the little rough back streets by the ground with their terraced houses that are all stuck together but yet not all the same. I can't tell if I love or hate the town. It's so fucking English in that ITV drama English way that I don't feel like it's English. Is this my England? I don't know. Whatever it is, it seems to have a disproportionate number of aging heavy metal fans and people who seem to be either endless variations on Jeremy Clarkson/farmers wives or people who went to art school in the 70s. Maybe Lincoln is an experiment to see what happens if you put a particular gene set into an infinite variance machine? I realise later that actually most of these people probably aren't from Lincoln and it's like calling Blackpool people a bunch of Glaswegians on a stag do.

I find a shit street with a cash converters. I feel less underdressed. A bit more at home. Then a fucking steam traction engine drives by like that's a perfectly normal thing and then everything goes twee and and strange again. I still don't know if I like it or not.

Oh, you want football?

We've signed the little big man and the old fella who used to be good. I'm excited about the first and confused about the second. The second one will probably play and the first one will probably go on loan to Crawley or something.

Please fucking score. Or just attack sometimes.

Critch knows. He must know. I know he's a big (actually, fairly small) boring turncoat etc etc etc but he's also the most hardworking and intelligent manager we could probably get without taking a wild punt and hoping it works out. This is his absolute speciality. An away day to somewhere miles away. Smash and grab. Play the best stuff when no one's watching. You know what? Today, I'm begging him for a fisting.

(To be honest, I'd like to think I was better than that on both a personal and literary level, but fuck it. It's a shit blog about shit football in a shit league and you've got to get your kicks somehow)


Things start ok. There are chances. Then... Marvin's mental slide tackle. It's like he's broken. He stops. He jumps. It's like a skipped record. A missed frame in an old film. Static. Pounce. It's all wrong. Jerky. Fucking hell. Grimmy waves and dances to no avail. Fucks sake Pool.

We play ok again. We make some chances. The closest we come is when Marvin nearly scores with what looks to me, like his back. I think that sums it up. There's some oohing and groaning and some playing it across the face of goal and some not quite getting a shot off and generally a sense that we're a bit scared to put our foot through it or if we have a chance it'll probably be Callum Connolly who it falls to and he's not going to score anyway. It never really ever feels like anyone will.

Probably our best chance sees Lavs run free and then inexplicably (at the time) stop and square it to Beesley who isn't there and looks quite flustered when he realises he is expected to be. It turns out Lavery has done his hamstring and thus stopping was quite explicable after all. Rhodes comes on and does ok but he's not really got the vibe of 'pacy lad who scares the shit out of other teams defence'

Then the old fella who used to be good is left running desperately back after a Lincoln player who seems to have a force field around him as everyone dives out the way to avoid tackling him and then he slaps it home. It beats Grimmy easily but someone tells me it hit Marv. I don't know. Don't really care to be honest. Either way it's a goal. 


My other favourite things about this half that to be honest, I'd rather forget.

I liked the bit when CJ got possession and went at his man and then *didn't do any sort of trick, feint, sway or anything even remotely designed to get the ball past the defender and just fell over after losing it and then looked a bit sad/confused* I also liked the bit where *the ball hit him in the face* as he tried the weirdest bit of control ever. Oh CJ. CJ. CJ. CJ. 

On a cathartic level I sort of enjoyed going 'for fucks sake Bees' when he watched the ball and expected CJ to come and win a header as if he'd never heard of the idea of 'a big lad being on the pitch to head stuff that comes near him' and obviously thought CJ was better in the air than him as if he'd never met CJ before. Then I felt a bit tight, cos I always stuck up for Gaz when he didn't jump but, well, Bees isn't Gaz.


I don't know. We've been arguably better than them. We're also 2-0 down and some of our play has been woeful.


Critch is hopping mad and has subbed everyone. I think he might have sent a note to some of their mums saying he's disappointed too.

Dale, Carey, Lyons all join. That's some technique and ability. Maybe this will be the masterclass bit.

Carey has the best shot of the game, a low fizzing drive the keeper stops well. CJ has a gilt edged chance he makes look less inviting than it was by putting it into the stand. Norburn wellies one 8 foot over the top. Rhodes I think shoots as well but overall it's all a bit hopeful rather than intense pressure.

It's fizzling out anyway when Hubby, Grimmy and Norburn combined somehow all get a touch but can't stop their lad, so Ollie chops him down and gets sent off and they score another pen and I've no more words about this game to be honest other than that because, well, we lost 3-0 and there's nothing really to gripe about or rage against other than ourselves.


It's tempting to say things like 'actually, we were the better team for a lot of the game so it'll come good' but that's not how I feel. I mean, in many ways, we were but that kind of makes it worse. We were ok in terms of possession in harmless places, but we couldn't defend and we really couldn't attack. The only time I felt like we'd come really close was the Carey effort and though you could see Rhodes had some quality and was willing to have a go at goal, he didn't really seem to look like someone who was going to change the dynamic massively and give us major new options.

Everything in front of goal look scuffed, laboured. We didn't run in straight lines, we didn't show aggression. We seemed to be doing everything to keep possession, but with no obvious sense of getting the ball to a particular player or with any real belief that it would get us anywhere. No one wanted to take on anyone. CJ got the stick from the crowd, but as bad as he was, I thought he showed as much intent as 2 or 3 others combined who just played it safe, safe, safe. CJ doesn't make the right decisions, but it's not his fault he hasn't got the technique or confidence and that when it goes wrong it tends to have a farcical quality to it.

I very rarely go to 'lack of effort' when I write up a game because, actually, I think it's very rare, as much as fans tend to cite it, that we don't try but there was little intensity to our play. It felt kind of directionless. Risk free.

We were the better team in some metrics, but we did so little with that. Some of our players looked a bit lost or played it safe. We looked robotic and stiff. There was no instinct from some of them. It felt as if, not for the first time this season, that we were playing a training ground exercise that was foiled by the other team rudely not following the instructions on how they should play.

We made a load of subs, but we kept the same shape because we seem to have lost the pages of the manual that have other formations drawn on them. CJ probably the one player who worried them. That's what is genuinely concerning. Marvin is out of form for sure and he had a terrible afternoon, but Pennington can come in. CJ needs to be relived of wing back duties but I genuinely don't know who else will run at the other team from wide or has any pace. Beesley is (lets be diplomatic) not in the form of his life, but how do we swap him out when no one else wins a header other than the centre backs?

I don't see the quality at the moment to make the system work but I don't see the option to change it either. We've got too many samey players who are in a rut around the midpoint of their careers. We've got some good players who don't have the right system/options and we've got a few that just need to go.

We've won 6 times in 10 months I think. We look like 10 nice lads and a grumpy fella (who is now suspended) on a geography field trip with the head of Yr 10 in a tracksuit.

We need to shake it up.

I don't normally go on about transfers cos frankly, there are better thinks to wank about than the money rich idiots with egos spend on footballers to sate the appetites of football fans who take their self esteem from some kind of bizarre show of reflected financial power, but honestly, straight up, not even lying or exaggerating, we really do need a load out and a load in. Critch needs to get the Fabreze out quickly, cos there's a smell of mothballs and hangovers. Too many games lost in legs and too many similar players half of whom know they won't play much at a point when they need to be.

This system needs an upgrade in quality in at (very) least two positions to start to work. If we can't get that quality then we need to change the system and to change the system we need players we don't have. Either way, the dice needs to be rolled.

On the way back, the setting sun lit the underside of the clouds over the moors. It was beautiful. I wanted to stop and watch them change shape, shifting within and upon themselves whilst the pinks turn to darker reds and burnt orange then fade to night because why not? Out there is the atmosphere and beyond that a universe so vast we can't even hold it in our minds.

It's only football and we're not long here are we? There's all of time and space and all of existence and in that light, we're truly privileged to be the few sentient beings in all of that everything and forever who get to see CJ as an inverted wing back. When you think about it that way, it's kind of a wonder of the age really.


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