2017/18 League Two Preview: Danny Cowley and Lincoln Cityby Mike Holden / 14 July 2017, 09:56Tweet
The Cowley brothers need no introduction. Their first season at Sincil Bank earned them lorry loads of national media coverage for an extraordinary FA Cup run that ran alongside a National League title-winning campaign, ending Lincoln’s six-year EFL exile with 99 points. But this is no overnight success story. Manager Danny and assistant Nicky spent eight years at Concord Rangers while working full-time as PE teachers, then they guided Braintree into the play-offs two years ago before leaving their jobs to take charge of the Imps last summer.
Cowley's leadership style can be summed up in two words: marginal gains. He puts great stock in match data and pays huge attention to detail, believing every facet of the football operation can be measured and improved in simple ways. However, there’s a slight misconception when describing this approach as innovative. Clive Woodward and Dave Brailsford are cited as role models and many of their ideas are now commonplace in other sports. It’s the execution and level of persuasion that is most impressive. Footballers aren’t always the most receptive.
"The last thing I want to do is dampen anyone’s enthusiasm because we’ve got real momentum behind us. But there has to be a basic reality of where we’re at and the level we’ve moved to. We’re now in a transitional period, there’s no hiding from that. What we want to do is accelerate this transitional period as fast we can so we can be competitive again. For us to be in the top seven, we would need to have a better season than last year."
There’s a real danger that Lincoln might be a busted flush before the season even begins. The secrets of their success are no longer secrets and Cowley might need to adapt to a level of tactical nuance that he’s simply unaccustomed to in his career to date. Instead of adding a bit more variety to the squad, Lincoln’s summer transfer business indicates more of the same. They certainly won’t shirk the challenge though, and we should expect the Imps to make hay whenever the sun shines.
Prediction: top half