So many of the managers and coaches plying their trade in England’s lower leagues have failed to achieve anything resembling a positive outcome at several clubs but they remain on the managerial merry-go-round and, bizarrely, boards keep appointing these unsuccessful characters.
One made a killing backing Lincoln to take out the English National League title last season – one recommended the Red Imps at double-digit odds not long after the competition had kicked off – and one is not jumping off its bandwagon for as long as its management team consists of the Cowley brothers.
Danny Cowley did not hit any great heights as a player – a midfielder, he did not an English Football League appearance before injury cut short his playing days – but he is more than making up for it as a manager. Cowley assumed control of Concord when its average home attendance was fewer than 50 people and guided the Rangers to promotion in his first term. In all, Cowley elevated Concord up three levels of the English pyramid between 2007 and 2015 and he oversaw its qualification for the first round of the English FA Cup.
In 2015, Cowley accepted the challenge of managing Braintree and he did not disappoint fans of The Iron. Braintree ended the English National League season in its highest-ever spot – third – and it took subsequent play-offs winner Grimsby extra time to eliminate The Iron in the semi-finals.
In 2016, Lincoln headhunted Cowley and the rest, as they say, is history. Lincoln clinched the English National League championship with two games to spare and the Red Imps became the first non-league side to reach the last eight of the English FA Cup in more than 100 years, knocking out Brighton, Burnley and Ipswich before losing to Arsenal.
Lincoln is primed for another successful campaign under Cowley – Danny is the Red Imps boss and his sibling, Nicky, is their assistant manager. The Cowley brothers are West Ham supporters and their specialist coaches include former Irons goalkeeper Jimmy Walker, an infectiously enthusiastic mentor who contributed greatly to Lincoln’s English National League title-winning season. More than 5,000 Lincoln fans have paid up for memberships and, because of the way in which the English League Two salary cap operates, that level of guaranteed financial support puts the Red Imps at an advantage over the majority of their divisional rivals.
The English League Two talking horse during the summer has been Mansfield, primarily because the Stags have got Steve Evans looking after their affairs. One holds a positive opinion about Evans but one is an even bigger rap about Cowley and, in all honesty, one cannot understand why Lincoln are so much longer odds than Mansfield.
The English League Two odds in which one is most interested are Coral’s offer of +300 about Lincoln securing a second promotion in two terms under Cowley. The top three teams on the English League Two ladder at the end of the division’s 46-round season will secure automatic promotion to England’s third tier, while the sides ranked fourth to seventh inclusive will participate in the play-offs. One is very keen to speculate at odds of +300 that Lincoln is one of English League Two’s four promoted teams next term.
English League Two will get under way on Saturday 5 August and Lincoln’s opening fixture is away to Wycombe. Lincoln will host each of the three sides above it in English League Two betting markets – Mansfield, Luton and Coventry – before facing the Stags, the Hatters and the Sky Blues on the road.
Lincoln City to be promoted from League Two
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