New Lincoln City boss Michael Appleton spoke to the press for the first time yesterday, and in amongst the many questions, the shadow cast by the Cowley era was still prominent.
It was clear from the Appleton’s demeanour and speech he is a very confident, experienced football man and whenever the names of the previous incumbents in the Sincil Bank manager’s office were mentioned he spoke with respect and humility about the two brothers achievements, not only on the pitch but off it too; with a special mention going to the new training facility funded from the Imps historic FA Cup run to the quarter-finals when still in the National League during 2016/17 season.
Appleton was keen to stress on several occasions that while the club might have recently experienced three years of unprecedented success, the bare facts were the squad the Cowley brothers assembled in the summer, before they decided to up sticks and move north to Huddersfield Town, currently had a record of one win in nine games across all competitions.
The former Oxford United boss was also keen to point out the gap in standard between League One and League Two was a challenging one to overcome and hinted he might need a bit of time before Imps fans get to see the same free-flowing football he achieved at Oxford. He maintained his first target was one again to make a side, still smarting from a 6-0 home defeat to his former club last time out, much harder to beat.
It was a strong attempt to bring some perspective to the current situation, and when asked such questions as to how long does he think it will be before he gets a terrace chant, of which the departed brothers had many, it is to his credit that he remained measured and calm throughout.
The fact of the matter is that until Appleton stamps his mark on the club and the team, certain sections of both the local media and the club’s support will hanker after the days the club enjoyed under the former teachers.
The Cowley’s were undoubtedly charismatic winners who engaged with the community and enjoyed hero-like status at the club for putting it back on the map, and it seems clear Appleton will be working under their rather large shadow, certainly in the short-term.
However, he will know that football fans are fickle beasts and the only way he will banish the Cowley shadow will be to win games and give the club’s supporters new success to enjoy.
When all the talking stops, he will be judged on results, and If he achieves anything like what he did at Oxford, he will soon hear his very own terrace songs belted out by the Lincoln City faithful.