It’s not often a genuinely rich club comes to the Abbey. Bolton? Don’t make me laugh. Man United? Small fry. Paris Saint… well, you get the picture. But on Saturday we’ll be blessed with the visit of the genuinely massive Lincoln City. Fresh from having spent the summer bidding on the worlds best players, and redeveloping Sincil Bank into an eighty-thousand capacity all-seater stadium, Lincoln arrive flush with cash. But how so?
Lincoln City Chinese Soccer Schools mate. That’s right, the brainchild of Jez George has succeeded at Lincoln where it failed at the Abbey, and millions upon millions of wealthy Chinese parents have been queuing up to enrol their kids in a football skills coaching course backed by the name of one of the UK’s most prestigious League One football clubs. Or something like that.
Jez George leaves a complicated legacy at the Abbey. As youth development director he joined United from City, bringing with them the cream of their youth talent, not un-controversially. As director of football here he walked thousands of miles to secure much needed funding for the youth team. As manager, he stepped in during our time in need laid the foundations for Richard Money to get us promoted (as well as signing Harrison Dunk). As CEO? The less said about that the better really. George was the living embodiment of the Peter principle, where a successful employee rapidly finds themselves promoted beyond their level of competence. But that’s all in the past now, and United are in a far better place on and off the pitch than we ever have been.
Lincoln come here on the back of three straight defeats in the League, a side many expected to be an outside shot for promotion this year finding it difficult to replace key players. United on the other hand have two home wins under their belt, and were treated to the luxury of a week off thanks to Doncasters international call ups.
Injury wise, we’re looking reasonably strong, with only Greg Taylor out for the long term, as Jack Lankester and Jubril Okedina are back to full fitness. Lankester will probably have a part to play on Saturday, but it might come too soon for Okedina, and even so, the defence has kept two clean sheets in a row so why change what’s working?
Expected U’s Line Up: Mitov, Williams, Jones, Masterson, Iredale, Digby, O’Neil, Brophy, Hoolahan, Tracey, Ironside
Who’s Their Player To Watch? Anthony Scully. Son of former U Tony, Anthony joined Lincoln with a lot of promise after coming through the ranks at West Ham. This is his third season at Sincil Bank.
Who’s In The Dugout? Michael Appleton. Didn’t achieve much at Blackpool, Blackburn or Portsmouth, did a bit better at Oxford.
Any Ex-United Players? Nope, unless you count Jez, which we don’t.
What’s Their Recent Form Like? Three defeats on the bounce, plus a win and a draw.
Last Time Out: Cambridge 1-2 Lincoln December 29 2018
Not really a great advert for the game of football this, Jabo gives United the lead before we went on to throw the points away
From The Archive: Cambridge 1-1 Lincoln, February 13 1998
Now we’re talking. John Beck returning to the Abbey as Lincoln boss for this Friday night game on Sky back in the late 90’s. Five of that Lincoln team would rock up at the Abbey four years later as Beck took over from Roy McFarland, proving that whilst he could be a football genius, Beck was also best at sticking to what he knows.
Interesting game in prospect. United in form, Lincoln not but looking to kick-start their season. Will we stick to a 4-2-3-1 or will Mark feel we can attack them with two strikers?! Masterson looks an excellent addition to the back four and all of a sudden we’ve looked much stronger defensively with consecutive clean sheets.
Plenty of attacking options in midfield too. Got to feel for the likes of Weir and Worman struggling for game time and we’ve even got a spare keeper these days too.