After an incredibly successful three years, brothers Danny and Nicky Cowley left Lincoln City to take charge at Championship club Huddersfield Town.
The Cowleys had saved Lincoln from rotting in non-league and earned them two promotions (and league titles) in three years to take them all the way up to League One from the National League. They have left the club in a great place and this will sure to be an attractive job for any manager to take.
Lincoln currently sit in the top six in League One with an abundant of talent in their squad. A front four of Tyler Walker, Jorge Grant, Jack Payne and Bruno Andrade is one of the most exciting attacks at the level.
Walker managed 26 goals for Mansfield Town in League Two last season as they reached the play-offs. His parent club Nottingham Forest have decided that he is not quite ready the Championship so have loaned him to Lincoln for the season. Walker has been in superb form so far this campaign having struck four league goals already. His energetic off the ball pressing of opposition defenders offers Lincoln a chance to always be on the front foot in games.
The three behind Walker do not struggle to create chances. Grant has been playing on the left and currently leads the league’s assist tally with five already. He is a set-piece specialist with a well-earned reputation of being able to swing in his crosses in the perfect position for his teammates to attack.
Andrade plays on the opposite flank. He is more of a direct winger who uses his pace to run at full-backs. Capable of scoring goals too, he struck 22 for Boreham Wood in 2017-18 when they reached the National League play-off final. He can play off the slightly more defensive creator in the team, Jack Payne. Payne is well proven at this level with spells at Oxford United, Blackburn Rovers and Bradford City. Capable of dictating the tempo of a game, Payne is an exciting midfielder.
A solid defence of Harry Toffolo, Michael Bostwick, Jason Shackell and Neal Eardley help to keep the goals out. Shackell won Lincoln’s player of the season last campaign as they stormed to the League Two title. The signing of Shackell in League Two was testament to the type of player that the Cowleys could attract. He had never played lower than the Championship before dropping down to League Two with Lincoln.
It is clear that they have great players, but who is the best man to get the best out of them all?
Who has been linked with the job?
Current Newport County manager Michael Flynn is the clear favourite for the role at the moment. The bookies have him priced up at 1.33. Flynn has done a similar job at County as what the Cowleys did with Lincoln in the sense that he has improved the league finish every season. He saved the club from dropping out of the EFL in 2016-17 when it looked as if they were certain to get relegated. The Exiles were 11 points adrift at the bottom of the table when he took the job, but miraculously, Flynn managed to keep them up on the final day.
Since that memorable ‘Great Escape’ Newport have been making steady progression each year under him. A solid 11th place finish in Flynn’s first full season in charge in 2017-18 gave signs that things were getting better. In their most recent campaign they reached the play-off final where they lost in the most unfortunate circumstances to Tranmere Rovers. A goal from Conor Jennings in the last minute of extra-time was all that could separate the two teams.
Currently, Newport sit in second place in League Two and are on a 17 match unbeaten run that stretches all the way back to March. This is quite incredible really when you factor in the tiny budget that Flynn has to work with.
If Lincoln were to approach him then you would have to think that he would consider. The Cowleys have left him a squad ready made to challenge for promotion to the Championship, along with a decent budget to bring his own players in.
Wycombe Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth has also been linked with this role. Currently priced at 5.0, at one point he was 2.38 to be named as the new Lincoln manager.
Ainsworth has been at Wycombe as manager for just shy of seven years. In that time he saved them from relegation to the National League, took them to the play-off final in the following season, then earned promotion to League One a few years after that. Currently, his Wycombe side are top of the third tier which highlights the outstanding job he has done during his time there.
Having spent two years at Sincil Bank as a player, Ainsworth is a man who knows the club well. He has publicly said that he wants to be ambitious and manage in the Championship. Could that be with Lincoln? Well, it could, but it is unlikely he will leave Buckinghamshire to a fellow League One club at this point.
The bookies seem to think it will be one of the above two names to be Lincoln’s new manager. Ian Culverhouse, Nigel Adkins and Gary Rowett have also been on the bookies’ lists but none of which are currently short priced.
Flynn would be an excellent appointment for the Imps. He would be a man likely to carry on the momentum left by the Cowleys as Lincoln look to go further up the leagues.