Gary Simpson may have completed the first part of his mission, but he will be up at the crack of dawn today, as he and the chairman thrash out a budget for him to emulate what Graham Taylor has done at Watford, Aston Villa and of course Lincoln City, nearly four decades ago. Gary never got the credit he deserved at Peterborough and Macclesfield, but did Taylor at Wolves and England? Yet both are not ones that look back in anger when there is so much to look forward to. Neither Taylor nor Simpson were popular when they were given the Imps job – hardly a bed of roses for any managerial reputation. But the two are unique and brave, who do not crave a big budget, just a competitive one, plus a phone and a group of players prepared to listen, learn and believe in the common cause. They are straight talking old school and rarities nowadays – They are the Enticers.
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If one is fortunate enough to meet Graham Taylor, the warmth makes up for any, almost instant, realisation that he had to adapt and bite his tongue in the face of the media over the years. Yet he captivates, freely giving honest informed opinion, with an earthy charm took him from Worksop, to Watford and even the England job. He is a giver, both to the people’s game he respects as well as the charity sector. Did he, perhaps deservedly, overachieve? Never on a player level, that is to say, when he had day to day relationships with men in boots as opposed to a posse of suits.
Simpson and Taylor’s style is very much one of mud in the studs management, either at the training ground or clocking up the miles to find a gem. Both would shine their shoes on the back of their trousers before going in the posh bit after standing out in the rain to get a run-down in the flesh of the next weeks opposition. Bob Dorrian was probably smiling not so much at Saturday’s result, but more the recent drop in petrol prices last week.
So to phase two, post the great escape that saw 20 points garnered. It will begin this morning with a visit, not so much cap in hand, to see the Chairman. Not for the sacking that one of the many perpetual knockers suggested, but to discuss how to take the Mighty Imps forward. The Chairman appears prepared to listen and share the vision. he should after seeing almost 1,000 fans descend on a pub ground for a desperate last throw of the dice yesterday. Perhaps The Rise of The Imps is at hand fellow Imps? We have a manager and Chairman that want to see our club achieve the potential only we Imps seem to see and understand.
When Gary was given this job, he knew the financial pitfalls, the dressing-room disharmony and where the League form was taking us. But this was a challenge he relished because this was a club ingrained within him. Conscience, not money, would guide his decision and motives, with the shoulders and souls of Keith Alexander and Richard Butcher always there in spirit to inspire and guide him.
With the moaners removed from the squad and the addition of three more players (two really as Diagne became injured), he faced ‘more of the same’ comments from clueless individuals within the media and the message boards. Simmo accepts that you pay your money and make your choice, entitled to your opinion and the use of your voice, but in reality this is agenda based and, one that will never see our beloved club move forward.
It is playground stuff and the Imps in that dressing room have learned not to look back in anger, but at the current job in hand. Listening to the Chairman on the radio yesterday, it sounds as if Gary will get the realistic budget he needs to put us there or thereabouts next season. But we have to look a little further back than Keith Alexander, for what Gary is all about. Simmo is certainly part Colin Murphy and, part John Beck, but perhaps more importantly, he has The Enticer look about him. For like Graham Taylor OBE, Gary has both the skill to entice and then build a player that he can sell on for millions. That and fans through the turnstiles are what our football club needs.
Let us hope today’s discussions are fruitful then. The Fans have shown we are keen to respond, but the board need to do some enticing as well.