The journalist Tim Vickery, who is an expert on South American football, regularly defines the role of a Head Coach or Manager as being broken down into three main tasks; “He selects the team, prepares the strategy – and he also sets the emotional tone for the work. An uptight coach usually produces an uptight team.”
Having watched the first two matches of Kevin Lynch’s tenure, I’ve been quietly impressed by the strategy and, to an extent to the messages – the emotional tone, if you will – coming from our dugout. Remember that Cables’ new gaffer had to get through two matches – against Frickley Athletic and Widnes – before he even had a chance to take a training session. Had Lloyd Dean’s “goal” against Frickley not been chalked off, there’s a distinct possibility that the Pesky Bulls would still be in the FA Trophy. And, from where I was sitting in the Press Box, Widnes were extremely fortunate to win here a few days later.
I was impressed by the immediate changes made by the new management team; Cables looked much harder to break down and weren’t just set-up to contain (although that was an aspect of our game that was much improved).
But… I also felt that we could have played until midnight against Widnes and not scored a goal. The crucial spark of creativity just wasn’t there and a draw would have been a fair result.
Then we went to Bootle, for a reunion with Brian Richardson and a number of former Bulls. Our former manager said after the match that Cables had been the better side in the first half, which was a sentiment echoed by Widnes’ boss Dave Dempsey who tweeted that in the opening 45 minutes against his side Prescot “were extremely competitive and stopped us playing. I was impressed.”
So far, so good. However, that initial rush of games also saw something of a patten emerge. Both Frickley’s goals came in the final quarter of that match, Widnes scored on the hour and two of Bootle’s three goals came in the final third of the game.
To my (admittedly, inexpert) eye, that suggests to me that Lynch has inherited a squad which ‘fades’ somewhat during matches and that perhaps his predecessor didn’t place quite enough emphasis on the physical side of the game?
We know there is talent in the squad Craig Davies left behind and we also know that those three games came too quickly for our new manager to have identified his key recruitment areas, much less get his ideas across on the training pitch. With Prescot having had a ‘free’ midweek, I’m sure that the boss and his squad have been working hard in both areas; I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a new face or two in today’s starting line-up and I’m certain that there have been two lively training sessions this week.
How quickly the work being done by players and coaches alike will translate into points on the board is harder to predict. Our visitors today, 1874 Northwich, are in their first season at this level and sit three places and five points ahead of Prescot in the League Table. I’m not going to use the phrase “six-pointer” (it is only October, after all) but I do think that the coaching staff will be targeting three points this afternoon and will be looking to their squad to either step up to the levels required or slip towards the ‘exit’ door.
Win, lose, or draw today, this club is at the beginning of a new chapter and there will almost certainly be more changes in the coming weeks. All we can do as fans is back the players, the manager and, yes, the Board to get us through this tricky period. It’s going to take time but if we pull together, we can build towards a bright future.