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Lincoln, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Senior news reporter at the Grimsby Telegraph, UEA History graduate, former BBC Kick Off sports reporter & Lincoln City fan.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

MATCH REPORT: Gainsborough Trinity 3-3 Lincoln City

Defensive headache for Cowley as Lincoln labour to disappointing draw


by Matt Scrafton

In a week where UK news has been dominated by a debate on how best to defend our shores - with the vote on Trident - Imps boss Danny Cowley will have a similar headache over the state of his own backline.

The Imps' back four was as porous as a sieve against Gainsborough Trinity on Tuesday evening - eventually labouring to a 3-3 draw at Northolme.

They squandered an early 2-0 lead to head into half-time 3-2 down, in what can only be described as a hectic 45 minutes of football.

A superb second-half Matt Rhead turn and volley, which flew in the net in off the post, was enough to peg back the hosts. But Mr Cowley will not be satisfied.

Given Cowley, the former Braintree manager, was fuming to have conceded in the 88th minute during the 5-1 rout of Grantham - one can only imagine the fury directed towards the players during the half-time break.

To put it bluntly - and somewhat bleakly - the Imps conceded as many goals in 15 minutes as they had in the previous four games put together.

And it could have been worse.


The game began in lacklustre fashion, with the two sides favouring basic and fairly rigid 4-4-2 systems. However, it only took three minutes for the game to spark into life.

What first appeared to be an innocuous throw-in rapidly turned into an opening goal for the visitors, when Johnny Margetts continued his early pre-season form by letting the ball run across his body before launching a looping volley beyond the keeper's despairing dive.

Three minutes later, Margetts had doubled Lincoln's lead and his own tally - with an easy tap-in at the second attempt after the Trinity defence had failed to deal with a routine long throw into the box. They weren't the only culprits of that - but more on that later.

That's now seven goals in four games since the Doncaster-born hitman joined on a one-year deal. The 22-year-old also seemed to enjoy his return to Gainsborough, after netting ten times in 13 games for the National League North outfit on loan from Hull in 2014.

It wasn't long until Trinity were on the scoresheet. A straight-forward punt up the field by Gainsborough 'keeper Jonathan Hedge was flicked on into the path of Jacob Hazel, who fired into the bottom corner after shrugging off Bradley Wood.

Around ten minutes later, Margetts almost notched his hat-trick when he was sent through on goal via a clever flick by targetman Rhead, only to fluff his lines when the ball became stuck under his studs.

The Imps were forced to pay for that miss when their counterparts scored twice in quick succession to take the lead - and once again the defence was far too easily beaten on both occasions.

A curled finish from Liam Davis from inside the box put Trinity on level terms after uncertainty in the Imps' defence, and it was the number ten who profited again from stationary defenders as he stabbed home from close range - ignoring the appeals for offside as he calmly netted under no pressure.

Gainsborough did the basics well and Hazel and Davis linked up well at front. But they were allowed far too much space time and time again.


The second half was largely uneventful and the plethora of substitutions did little for the flow of the game.

The only highlight of note was Rhead's astute swivel and volley to equalise on 56 minutes - a timely reminder of the quality he possesses. He's far from the "big, awkward lump" that he's unfairly tagged with.

The draw brought an end to Lincoln's winning run, but tougher tests await Cowley's men.

Lincoln move on to another away tie at Lincoln United on Saturday, which will act as the semi-final of the Lincolnshire Cup, before facing League One side Peterborough United at Sincil Bank on Tuesday, July 26.

Let's hope the defence will have improved by then. As for Trident, let's hope that doesn't prove to be another costly mistake.

Match ratings
Richard Walton 5
Bradley Wood 5
Jamie McCombe 6 (Howe, 58)
Luke Waterfall 5
Lee Beevers 6
Elliott Hodge 5 (Muldoon, 52)
Taylor Miles 7 (Everington, 77)
Alan Power 6 (Stanley, 58)
James Caton 5 (Acar, 70)
Johnny Margetts 8
Matt Rhead 7 (Simmons, 61)

Attendance: 555

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Surprise at Newcastle scouting highlights deficiencies elsewhere

Newcastle's extensive scouting should be an expectation of all Premier League clubs, not a solitary and surprise exception

Source: metro.co.uk
Written by Matt Scrafton.


All hail Graham Carr!

The Newcastle United chief scout has been all the rage recently with 'le Toon' raiding France during the January transfer window while spending the equivalent of an average English midfielder.

Considering the relatively low wages on offer in Ligue 1 (PSG aside), young French players will always jump at the chance to ply their trade in the Premier League (Loic Remy, anyone?).

Moussa Sissoko has made an immediate impact after joining from Toulouse for a fee believed to be as low as £1.8m, scoring two in the 3-2 win against Chelsea and providing a stunning assist on his debut against Aston Villa.

Fellow Frenchmen Mathieu Debuchy, Yoan Gouffran, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Massadio Haidara also arrived in the north-east as Alan Pardew's side bid to steer away from the relegation zone. Those four, along with Sissoko, were signed for a combined fee believed to be around £16m. Prudent indeed.

Carr was said to be responsible for these signings, along with the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Cheick Tioté, Tim Krul, Hatem Ben Arfa and Papiss Cissé who helped Newcastle to a 5th place finish last season. The scout has extensive knowledge of the French and Dutch leagues, with Carr himself stating he scouted Tioté for four years before the Ivorian eventually signed in 2010 for £3.5m.

Carr is a vital part of Newcastle's backroom staff - why else would the club offer him an eight-year deal? But my concern lies with the rest of the Premier League clubs and why they're not behaving in a similar fashion. I mean, it's hardly rocket science - buy good players for the cheapest possible price, non?

Of course Newcastle aren't the only club acting sensibly when it comes to the transfer market - Swansea and West Brom are also ideal examples of prudent and practical scouting. Signings like Chico Flores, Pablo Hernandez and Ki Sung-Yueng were made for nominal fees at the Liberty Stadium, while Baggies midfielder Claudio Yacob was signed on a free from Argentina. Both sides have benefited as proven by their current league positions.

The sheer magnitude of money involved in the Premier League has seemingly brought with it apathy and laziness. Why put the hard yards in scouting young and hungry players when you can simply knick overrated English talent from other teams in your league for a small fortune?

Take Liverpool, why send scouts to France, Holland, Belgium etc when you can watch Match of the Day once-a-week and sign Jordan Henderson on the back of it?

Okay that's a bit harsh, Henderson has improved as of late. But £18m, really?

It speaks volumes that Graham Carr's name is often touted as a scouting genius for simply doing his job. In that case - what the hell are the other scouts doing?

It seems the need for instant success has put several clubs off signings players from around the world despite the prices likely to be far lower. Take Stoke for example - on the whole they've opted to sign low-risk players that were already proven in the Premier League. I'm thinking Peter Crouch, Wilson Palacios, Robert Huth etc. That's fine, but it usually comes at a price.

Given that ludicrous salaries are handed out without a moments notice, you'd imagine all established Premier League clubs would already have an extensive scouting network in place. It should merely be an expectation - the status quo - not something that comes as a surprise.


Monday, 7 January 2013

An alternative 2012 World XI

FIFA decided to produce an all La-Liga XI for their annual Ballon D'Or 'team of the year' awards. As usual I disagree with the line-up, so here's my alternative offering...



By Matt Scrafton.


Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)

Casillas had a memorable 2012 as he captained Spain to a historic third consecutive major triumph whilst helping Real Madrid capture their first La Liga title since 2008. Despite the 31-year old suffering a disappointing end to the year when José Mourinho controversially dropped him for the 3-2 defeat against Malaga, San Iker still deserves his spot ahead of the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Petr Cech and Manuel Neuer.

Stephan Lichsteiner (Juventus)

The Swiss full-back established himself on the elite stage for the first time in his career after remaining an ever present in the Juventus side that clinched the Serie A title so convincingly in 2012. His iconic, marauding runs into the opposition half were a vital component of Juve's first Scudetto triumph since 2003.

Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund)

The 24-year-old German produced yet another year of fantastic defensive performances, helping his side secure their second consecutive Bundesliga title. The former Bayern Munich youth player also deservedly forced his way into Germany's starting eleven at Euro 2012, playing all 450 minutes of their campaign whilst drawing high praise for his performances. Hummels narrowly beat Manchester City skipper Vincent Kompany to this spot, who would have been certain of inclusion was it not for his disappointing downturn in form this season.

Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)

The defensive stalwart was the backbone of Juve's Scudetto triumph, joining Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli in Antonio Conte's highly successful back three. His tough tackling style won many admirers outside of Italy during Euro 2012, adding to his already high stock as one of the finest defenders in world football.

Ashley Cole (Chelsea)

The oft-maligned English left-back was arguably Chelsea's finest performer during their Champions League adventure, with the limelight focusing on Didier Drogba and John Terry instead. The former Arsenal man put in career-defining performances when he subdued the likes of Lionel Messi and Arjen Robben in the final stages of Chelsea's historic triumph.

Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)

The Italian bearded maestro finally received widespread mainstream attention in Britain after a highly impressive Euro 2012 campaign with Italy - with his Panenka penalty against England turning heads. The deep-lying playmaker also remained Juve's stand-out performer during their 49 game unbeaten streak, making a mockery of AC Milan's decision not to renew his contract in 2011.

David Silva (Manchester City)

David Silva narrowly beats his compatriots Xavi, Juan Mata and Xabi Alonso to claim the final midfield position. The 26-year-old was an ever present for City during their title winning season - their first title in forty-four years - making 17 assists and deservedly receiving a place in the PFA's team of the year in the process. Silva also scored two and made three assists as he started all six of Spain's Euro 2012 games, also scoring the decisive first goal in the final.

Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona)

The diminutive midfielder proved once again he's the man for the big occasion, putting in a man of the match performance in Spain's 4-0 defeat of Italy in the final of Euro 2012. Iniesta provided a highly impressive 23 assists last year, with 11 coming in the first half of this current season - more than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

Any other year, Ronaldo's 60 goals during the 2011-12 season would have guaranteed him the Ballon D'Or award, but more on that later (see below). The former Manchester United man almost single-handledly dragged Madrid to the La Liga title, which included the all-important winner against Barcelona in April that virtually secured the title for Madrid, as well as scoring three important goals for Portugal in Ukraine & Poland during the summer.

Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

This one doesn't need much explaining. 91 goals in the calendar year, 22 assists in 69 games, his fourth consecutive Ballon D'Or. Need I say more?

Falcao (Atletico Madrid)

The Colombian is more than deserving of his spot in the genuine FIFA XI given his astounding year of scoring feats, which included a hat-trick versus Chelsea in the Super Cup final and another two against Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League final. The Atletico man scored 44 league and cup goals in 2012, making him the most prolific out-and-out striker on the planet.

Honourable mentions to: Petr Cech, Manuel Neuer, Gianluigi Buffon, Vincent Kompany, Sergio Ramos, Phillip Lahm, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Juan Mata, Yaya Toure, Mario Gotze, Sergio Aguero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robert Lewandowksi and Robin van Persie.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Stoke City myth


Are Stoke City really defying the odds by just avoiding relegation season after season?


By Matt Scrafton.

We're often told Tony Pulis is doing a wonderful job at Stoke City and the fact he's managed to keep them in the Premier League for so many years should be admired.

Such lectures can usually be found at Match of the Day HQ - you know, the usual suspects. But just how true is this overused, tired cliché?

Well, you might be surprised to hear this, but since 2003, the Potters have the third biggest net spend of all current Premier League clubs, with only the oil-rich Manchester City and Chelsea above them.

Stoke have spent a whopping £83.825m in the past nine years, with just £8.65m going out the other way. What does all this mean? Well, the Britannia Stadium outfit spend on average £15.035m-a-season. And what do they have to show for it?

Not once have they finished above 11th place - and most recently they ended up in 14th. Sure, they reached the Europa League in 2011 courtesy of a 1-0 FA Cup final defeat to Champions League bound Man City (a competition they subsequently failed to take seriously, I may add). But why should we shower them with praise, when all they've managed to deliver is four seasons of mid-table mediocrity for a loss of £75.175m?

All this while playing the most archaic and ugly brand of football ever witnessed in the top flight. Okay that might be a bit over-the-top, but you're all more than familiar with their cynical, dirty style of anti-football.

Such physical, direct 'playing-the-percentages' football offers no real promise or potential for the club - they've reached their glass ceiling. No longer can sides play this traditional British approach and genuinely succeed at the top level. Attributes such as grit, effort and determination are all well and good, but they'll only get you so far in this highly competitive league.

Below is a general outline of what the club have spent and sold since their arrival in the Premier League as well as their finishing positions:

2008/09
Spent £16.2m
Sold £50,000
League position: 12th

2009/10
Spent: £21.5m
Sold: £4.5m
League position: 11th

2010/11
Spent: £12.575m
Sold: £1.5m
League position: 13th

2011/12
Spent: £18m
Sold: £2.1m
League position: 14th

There's been some high profile signings within that time frame too. Peter Crouch came in for £10m; £8m was spent on Wilson Palacios, £5.5m on Dave Kitson, £5m-a-piece for Tuncay and Robert Hurth and so on...

So why should the Potters be afforded so much praise for achieving the bare minimum: Premier League survival? Given the heaps of cash that has been spent and afforded to Pulis by owner Peter Coates, you'd expect a lot more from the Staffordshire side.

And when compared to Newcastle, who have a net spend of -£36.3m since 2003, or Everton with -£15.315m, -£1.8m at Swansea, just £2.62m at Fulham etc., then it really begins to hit home just how average Stoke have performed.

Sources: BBC Sport, transferleaguetable.co.uk, wikipedia.org

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Robin van Persie sale isn't 'good business', it's madness

Arsenal fans happy with van Persie 'deal' should pack up and go home, money shouldn't have been the driving factor behind the Dutchman's departure



By Matt Scrafton.

van Persie scored 37 goals last season, 96 times in 149 games in total for the Gunners. Arsenal say they want to challenge for the title, yet they sell their talismanic striker just days before the start of the season.

Perhaps it's all not as clear cut as that, but whichever way you look at it, it makes little sense.

van Persie isn't just another 'talent' that got away, he's not just another piece of the jigsaw that got lost under the sofa, and he certainly shouldn't have been treated like their most saleable asset to increase their profit margins.

Sure, Arsenal's 'business model' is entirely sensible. But there has to be a time when the finance helps ensure the on-field success, not hinder it, like it has been and continues to do so.

van Persie was Arsenal's ONLY chance of keeping up with the two Manchester clubs. Wenger should have fought day and night to keep the Dutchman at the club, whatever it took. Imagine if the roles had been reversed and this was Sir Alex Ferguson who was in danger of losing his star man. Well, you know how the story goes, whatever Fergie wants, Fergie gets.

Gabriel Heinze wanted to move to Liverpool, Ferguson didn't. Who got his way? Rooney threatens to leave? Give him more money, shut him up, and sign him on a longer deal. Fergie wins again.

In fact, the scary thing is, it seems like Wenger actually wanted van Persie to leave. It all made good business sense, apparently. It seems like the former Feyenoord striker was actually impressed with some of the clubs signings and was prepared to remain in North London. But then Wenger took him to one side after their friendly in Cologne, and told him the club had accepted a bid and were, in essence, forcing him out of the club.

Funny turn of events, right?

Arsenal are a selling club, pure and simple. They should be worrying about just making fourth place this season, and shouldn't even be concerning themselves with City, United (and I'd add Chelsea, too). The Gunners may squeeze into a Champions League spot by the skin of their teeth, but sooner or later they'll drop out.

Of course, given their business model, it probably won't hurt them as much. But back in the title hunt? They can forget about that for the time-being.

People say this is a great deal, and on the face of it, they may be right. From a purely financial view, £24m (if reports are to be believed) for an injury prone 29-year-old with a year left on his contract is a good deal. But does that really give a true reflection of the whole story?

And since when were football clubs ran purely on 'financial grounds'. Are football clubs ran to win trophies and to be successful, or to turn a profit each year? Of course it would be nice it clubs did both, but that's a subject for another day.

For those that are relatively healthy and not forced to sell due to a lack of funds (think Portsmouth), aren't footballing concerns just as important, if not more so?

Others have claimed the money will help them rebuild, which again is true. But once again, this argument fails to address the whole picture. Remember when they sold Henry, and were forced to 'rebuild'? The same with Fabregas, Nasri and so on. There has to be a point in time where you put a team together to compete, not selling your best assets just to keep the cogs turning.

Coral poke fun at Arsenal with a clever PR stunt

The cries of  'one man team' directed at Arsenal last season seemed incredulous at the time, but on the face of it, they weren't far wrong.

Without van Persie, Arsenal wouldn't have made the top four. He scored 30 of Arsenal's 68 league goals. Take van Persie away, a massive hole is waiting to be filled.

Will Giroud and Podolski fill it? I can't see it myself. Giroud is a good striker, and I'm excited at the prospect of him playing in the Premier League. But his style is different to the Dutchman's, and there's very little chance of him scoring as many. As for Podolski, I'm sceptical about his signing.

So there we have it, Arsenal are back to square one and no progress is made. One step-forward and two-steps back, I think the saying goes. Not to worry, this is a great deal for the Gunners. The Directors will be over the moon. Several sections of the footballing world will carry on complimenting Arsenal on their great business, metaphorically high-fiving them for cashing in on their prized asset.

So who's next? Alex Song to Barcelona? New captain Thomas Vermaelen next season? Jack Wilshere when he returns to fitness?

Or Arsenal for more years without a trophy?

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

England fourth best side in the world? Sounds about right




Written by Matt Scrafton.

England moved up to fourth place in the updated FIFA rankings, rising above Netherlands and Brazil while remaining above the likes of France, Portugal, Italy and Argentina.

Their 'par-for-the-course' display at Euro 2012 saw them equal their best ever position, which had been achieved twice before back in 1997 and 2006.

As usual there's been a knee-jerk response to the news, mostly including howls of derision mocking Roy Hodgson's side for being so high up on the 'list' despite being outplayed by Italy during the Quarter-final game that the 'Three Lions' eventually lost on penalties.

A game, which should be noted, England actually drew after 120 minutes, meaning they were awarded the same amount of points as they would have gained from a regulation draw.

Such pillars of football like Gary Lineker have waded into the debate, declaring:

“New Fifa rankings have England 4th, ahead of Portugal, Holland, Argentina, Brazil, Italy etc. Just knew we were brilliant”

“What kind of ranking puts a country 4th when they have only contested 2 semi-finals in over 40 years? #priceless”

“It's down to Fifa opponent strength multiplier: eg if you play against a team ranked 8th..200-8 over 100 = 1.92 etc. #priceless"

“If you have a spare week, check out how Fifa world rankings work. It's hilarious! And it was apparently simplified in 2006”


Subtle mocking by Lineker there, but it's interesting to note he offers no alternative? I don't think anyone has ever declared the ranking system is faultless, but is that even possible to achieve?

For example, Brazil have slumped to 11th place - which can mostly be put down to not playing any competitive internationals due to hosting the upcoming World Cup in 2014. How could their drop be avoided?

And what does England's performances from 40 years ago have anything to do with it? By that logic, should Uruguay still be top of the rankings due to their World Cup wins in 1930 and 1950? In fact, they're currently third, and deservedly so too thanks to a mightily impressive past few years which saw them lift the Copa America in 2011, while finishing fourth at the last World Cup and on course to qualify for the next one.

The current BBC Match of the Day presenter isn't the only one to have concerns though. Judging by certain comments on Twitter, you'd think Sepp Blatter hand picked the rankings himself. Ugh, did I just defend SEPP BLATTER!?

BBC presenter Gary Lineker mocked England's position in the latest rankings on Twitter
But in all seriousness, why exactly are the rankings so [allegedly] incorrect? Agreeing with Lineker, most seem to think sides like Netherlands, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil and Italy are superior and this deserves to be represented in the rankings.

For starters, that's a subjective opinion. I think Chelsea are a better side than Newcastle but they didn't finish above them last season, did they? But I'll play along for now and take a look at why those said nations are behind us.

Netherlands had a horrific tournament and deservedly fell in the rankings after being defeated in all three of their group games – at the hands of Portugal, Denmark and Germany. Nevertheless, they remain in the top 10 – eighth in fact, dropping only four places.

Portugal had a more impressive tournament that England, going one stage further and reaching the semi-finals before being knocked out by the eventual winners Spain. However, they struggled in the qualifiers, as they have tended to do a lot in recent history, going through in a play-off against Boznia & Herzegovina before suffering a friendly defeat to Turkey, after drawing to Poland and Macedonia.

England's friendly wins against Norway and Belgium certainly weren't spectacular, but they were wins all the same and brought in more points for Hodgson's side. Still, I fully expect Portugal to move ahead of England within the next year or so as Paulo Bento seems to have struck a chord within his youthful squad.

Then we have Argentina, the side that seemingly have all the attacking ability in the world yet still fails to produce top class defenders (Fabricio Coloccini aside, of course). They've been fairly underwhelming with their recent results, losing to Venezuela in a World Cup qualifying match, and are only third in the group at the moment behind Uruguay and Chile.

They were also well under-par during the 2011 Copa America, suffering disappointing draws with Bolivia and Colombia before succumbing to winners Uruguay in the quarter-finals. And who can forget the 4-0 demolition they suffered to Germany at the 2010 World Cup? They remain in seventh place, and they can have few complaints.

Their South-American counterparts, Brazil, move out of the top 10 to their lowest ever position of 11th. As alluded to, as the next hosts of the World Cup they've not had a great deal of football to play. In fact, since they were knocked out by Paraguay at the Copa America, they've played 13 friendlies. Despite winning nine of those, a win for an international friendly doesn't produce the same amount of points that you would gain for a competitive game, so they've had little chance to gain a substantial amount of points.

For those of you interested, there's a 1.5 difference in weighting between friendly matches and qualifiers, hence Brazil's recent slump. Added to that, there's a difference of 0.5 between qualifiers and continental cup games (Euro 2012, in this instance), which explains why a number of European sides remain ahead of them – even if some of them didn't perform that well.

As for Italy, the Euro 2012 finalists, they made a relatively meteoric rise up the rankings to where they now sit sixth, six places ahead of where they were placed before the tournament.

Prior to Euro 2012, the Italians were comfortable enough in escaping their qualifying group, but with Estonia, Serbia and Slovenia their closest rivals, they never faced much opposition. However, they struggled in the lead-up to the European Championships, suffering friendly defeats to Uruguay, United States and Russia.

Italy suffered a 4-0 defeat in the Euro 2012 final, but have risen up the rankings as a result
France, of course, have had a troublesome last few years. Raymond Domenech left Laurent Blanc a side riddled in controversy and bruised egos, having failed to escape the group stage at the 2010 World Cup, which saw Les Bleus tumble down the rankings to 27th. They qualified for Euro 2012 in an unspectacular fashion, edging out Bosnia by one point, before unconvincingly escaping the group at the tournament in Ukraine & Poland before being outplayed by Spain.

So now we can see why England are placed where they are. The manner of their performances at Euro 2012 are totally irrelevant, they secured two wins and technically drew twice. With Moldova, Ukraine, San Marino and Poland up next for the national side in the World Cup qualifiers, be prepared to see England remain in the top five too. Although they do face Italy in a friendly in August...

It's important I make it clear that I'm not hailing England as a great side that are far superior to several of the teams mentioned in this blog. But apart from a blip in the lead-up to Euro 2008, England nearly always qualify for major tournaments without much trouble, and consistently escape the group stages.

This isn't a comment on how England play their game, and certainly isn't a justification for our style of football and our lack of ability to keep the ball. There are changes that need to be made if England are to enjoy real success on the international stage. Heck, even to maintain their fourth place in the rankings they'll need to step it up.

But as usual, England's departure was scrutinised to the umpteenth degree, people analysing every single inch of our national game to explore the reasons for our apparent poor performance. Before we all become too self-involved, I think it's important to find some realism. We're not that bad, in fact in recent history we've consistently been a top side.

Just those damn penalties...

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The art of the 'fans protest'

It might be counter-productive, but the protest is the only real medium for disillusioned fans to get their voices heard. We shan't 'sit down and shut up'. 


Written by Matt Scrafton
--------------------------------
I don't know if you've noticed, but recently Blackburn Rovers have won a few more games than they were doing previously. What a master stroke from the Venky's, keeping Steve Kean in the hot seat, eh? And don't those Rovers fans who protested look silly now?

Don't worry, if you hadn't noticed that introduction was laced with irony. I still think Steve Kean is a limited manager who is completely out of his depth and that the Venky's made a horrific decision in replacing Sam Allardyce with the Glaswegian.

Saying that, Blackburn will probably stay up this season. But given that before the new owners had arrived 'Big Sam' had the Lancashire side sitting in 10th position during the 2009/10 campaign after reaching the semi-final of the League Cup, I can confidently say that "staying up" isn't good enough at all.

And even if they do end up avoiding relegation, let's be honest it's only due to the inadequacy of the teams below them - QPR and Wolves half self-destructed, and Wigan finally look destined for the drop (thank the lord!).

Yet large chunks of the media seem to think Rovers' likely survival vindicates their earlier criticisms of the fans protests. I don't doubt that the players confidence was shot and the protests did little to help that. Again, I don't doubt that there was a hostile atmosphere surrounding the club on match-days when those "Kean out" chants were commonplace at Ewood Park earlier on in the season.

But you have to see it from their point of view. Their club was dragged into a relegation scrap last season, and have been embroiled in one all this season too. This coming after sitting comfortably in mid-table under Allardyce, in fact they were 13th at the time of his sacking. And you have to consider who his replacement was, Steve Kean - an individual with no previous managerial experience whatsoever. I'm putting it out there, if I were a Blackburn fan I'd be pretty peeved too.

A selection of Newcastle United supporters show their displeasure at the ownership of Mike Ashley
However, we're still being told that fans protests do no good. Just yesterday the Lincoln City Board of Directors released an official statement slamming a minority of Imps 'supporters' "a disgrace" for planning to protest before Saturday's BSP fixture with Newport County.

This is a club who have fallen from the heady heights of the League Two play-offs to the cusp of the Conference North in just five years. And that's without going into administration. Sure, the financial mismanagement of the club has been an embarrassment, but it's been on-the-field where the problems have lied.

Here's a little history lesson for you all. Peter Jackon came in, was handed the biggest budget a Lincoln manager had ever been given, proceeded to talk a lot of nonsense, and then was sacked after leaving the Imps languishing at the wrong end of the table. Then there was good old Chris Sutton, y'know the boring one who couldn't score for toffee at Chelsea? No, not Fernando Torres. This was his first job in management, so his terrible reign can just about be forgiven. Once again, Lincoln were involved in the relegation battle,and once again another manager had been given his marching orders.

Then ex-Southend boss Steve Tilson came in, a guy who frankly couldn't care less about his job. As a result, for the first time since 1986, the Imps were back in non-league. He kept his job to begin with, but was sacked just months later after a torrid start to life in the Blue Square Premier. David Holdsworth is now in charge (I use that term loosely), but the Imps are still only heading one way.

Not once have Lincoln fans protested. Sure, there were rumblings, there were boos and there were chants. But for far too long now Lincoln fans have just been too nice. There has to be a time where they think, "y'know what? I'm not taking this crap anymore". I include myself in that, by the way.

That moment of awakening seems to have occurred this week. Lincoln fans aren't going to accept losing to Bath, Kettering, Alfreton and Carshalton Athletic in the same season, and they certainly won't accept plummeting down another division to the Conference North.

New boss David Holdsworth is on a run of just 1 victory in 14 games, which has seen his side drop to 20th in the table
For those of you ignorant of that level, a selection of teams include Solihull Moors, Corby, Hinckley United and Eastwood Town. I'm sorry to pick on you Solihull, but their average attendance for the 2009-10 season was 239. You get the picture.

So what, do the fans just sit patiently until the club finally starts winning some games? An adult ticket at Sincil Bank is still £18 on match-day, are fans still expected to pay that in full knowledge that their team is useless? I don't know how Bob Dorrian and his fellow colleagues in the Board of Directors have the cheek to question the mentality of the Lincoln supporters.

What else should they do? Refuse to go watch? That'll just worsen the problem as the club will be left with less capital than before. Remain positive? I'm not sure how that's possible in a week where Lincoln have lost consecutive games to Alfreton and Bath City. Conserve the boos until the end of the match? They've been doing that for months now, and still nothing has changed.

People need to realise what these fans have been through. This is a very self-indulgent post, but Lincoln and Blackburn are two cases that I know a lot of. This applies to fans of all clubs.

They've tried being patient, they've tried being positive, and they sure as hell have spent a great deal of cash on watching their beloved side play. Journalists only see the negative sides to a protest, they just think it's 'nasty', 'spiteful', and "does no good". That may be a bit of an unfair generalisation of football journalists there, but you get my drift.

I'm not exactly sure what the point in this blog was - I just wanted to defend the right of football fans to protest when they're not satisfied with what their club is serving up. Blackburn fans may have aimed most of their abuse at Steve Kean, but it could just have easily been the Venky's too. The same applies for Lincoln. Sometimes there doesn't need to be a target for their vitriol, they just want people to notice they're aggrieved, to stand up and be heard. They want that special word - change.