Chris Lakey: Football – the never-ending game
- Credit: Archant
So, this is it. The weekend that signals the end of the football season. Sort of.
Once the Champions League final and the Championship play-off final, then the League One final and then the League Two final are sorted, the season is over. Apart from England friendlies. And the World Cup. Then pre-season. Then, heavens, it's the start of the new season.
Fortunately, at local non league level, everything is done and dusted and work is already beginning ahead of next season.
There's plenty to ponder: King's Lynn and Lowestoft Town, geographically at opposite ends of our circulation area, and in terms of comfort zones, pretty much at opposite ends there too.
The Linnets announced their new manager on Wednesday, the day that Lowestoft Town lost theirs.
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Simon Clark replaces Ian Culverhouse at Lynn, with Sam Gaughran as his deputy. He has big boots to fill in more ways than one: Cameron Norman, Leon Mettam and, it appears, Simon Lappin have all left the club. No great surprises there, but Clark needs to find replacements – and more. One of Lynn's biggest problems last season was a lack of strength in depth. To me, they had 12, maybe 13, players you'd confidently name in the starting line-up. Then the squad looked a little bare of Southern Premier quality. The problem that creates is not just when it comes to injuries and suspensions, but a lack of competition for places – the team picked itself, and that isn't healthy, although to be fair to last season's senior players, they never rested on their laurels; they were excellent.
Those that remain – and it was great to see Ryan Fryatt committing his future to Lynn – need to forget the play-off final disappointment and go one better. Who they will be is unknown, but keeping Cameron King would be a coup. As Culverhouse used to point out, 'he's a real player', emphasis on the word real. Alex Street had a good season in goal, Frazer Blake-Tracy was as steady as can be at left back or, when needed, left centre-back.
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In the middle, they missed Michael Clunan, absent through injury, at the end of the campaign, but the real star man, my player of the season, was Ryan Jarvis, who was absolute quality in that deep role, dictating play, calming things down and using his experience to ensure Lynn controlled games, not their opponents. That was one thing I really did admire about Lynn last season: whenever I saw them they never allowed the opposition to dictate the game; they always ensured their imposed themselves on the game and that it was, more often than not, played on their terms. So many teams fail to consider the psychological effect that can have.
Up front, Clark will need to find another striker, with Mettam going and the law of averages suggesting one of the other double figure men may depart.
I do have the feeling, though, that Lynn are an outward thinking, pro-active club with some savvy.
But what about Lowestoft Town? Dale Brooks' resignation was no great surprise, although the man himself found it hard to go. Whoever replace shim has a mammoth job – lots of new players are needed, but lots of questions need to be asked. Will the new manager have a decent budget to work with, given the club's financial constraints? Little has been heard from within the club since they revealed their problems, but they will need to reveal all to candidates for the job.
Personally, I don't fancy their chances next season and that is a shame for a club that just a few years ago was ripping it up under the guidance of Ady Gallagher, Mick Chapman and Craig Fleming. Get the right men in and prove me wrong.
Anyway, this is the last Pink Un of the season, dedicated to the thing I hate most in football – the play-offs. We will be back with a fixture special on June 22 and a pre-season Pink Un Mag – and everything in between.
A big thankyou to all those unsung heroes of local football who give up their time for their clubs and organisations – and who help us during the season. We aim to grow our non league coverage and your help is invaluable.
So thanks, and enjoy the rest of the season (let me know when it's over).