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Monday, September 28, 2009

Lincoln take gamble on Sutton

Chris Sutton's successful strike partnership with Alan Shearer at Blackburn was affectionately known as SAS by Rovers fans.

Now the former England international has answered League Two Lincoln's SOS in taking his first steps into management.

The Imps, who sacked manager Peter Jackson earlier this month, have lost their last three games, and lie just three points off the drop zone.

Vice chairman Bob Dorrian, in outlining the search for Jackson's replacement, said the club were looking for a, "young, up-and-coming manager with good coaching skills."

And, although all of the former two can be applied to the 36-year-old, Sutton is a complete managerial novice and resembles a huge gamble by the City board.

Even his assistant, Ian Pearce, has no managerial experience, and both will be unfamiliar with the goings-on in the basement division. Indeed, a lack of experience seems rife throughout the club.

After failing to impress last season with a more experienced squad, Jackson's summer transfer policy turned towards recruiting younger, hungry players. However, after two wins in their opening three games, a poor run saw the club lose to Dagenham and Burton and drop out of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

It was enough to see the former Huddersfield boss dismissed. Caretaker Simon Clark bemoaned the lack of experience amongst the playing staff though, and the need for more experience.

Why then have the Imps board chosen a novice to guide the way for a young group of players? Youth has its advantages, but the need for a solid spine of experience, players with nous, who are streetwise in League Two, are required for success.

Lincoln's sole win in the last seven games has come against rock-bottom Darlington, and when a young side gets onto a poor run, it can be hard to recover confidence. Youth may have no fear, but it lacks the experience in handling defeat.

Unsurprisingly, the appointment has been met with a combination of anxiety and disbelief. Former Nottingham Forest coach John Pemberton and ex-Cambridge boss Gary Brabin had been strongly linked with the post before Sutton's shock appointment.

It's difficult to see how either could have been less qualified for the position than Sutton (left). However, after the controversial sacking of Jackson, Lincoln appear to be willing to take a punt on a younger manager coming good.

Failure, and chairman Steff Wright, whose tenure has largely been poor, will face more calls to fall on his sword, as well as Sutton departing. The stakes are even higher for the club who became the first to be automatically relegated from the Football League in 1987. A repeat cannot be allowed to happen this time around.

Lincoln have rolled their dice.


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