What it feels like to be sacked

After hanging above our heads for a fortnight, the Sword of Damocles has finally fallen.

Allow me to (re-)introduce myself as the FORMER assistant manager of Lincoln City: along with manager Peter Jackson, your roving chronicler of all things lower-league is now free to look for gainful employment elsewhere.

So how did it all come to pass, I hear you ask?

Well, when the chairman calls you early one Wednesday morning, three days after a lacklustre display at Dagenham and the morning after a narrow reverse against Darlington, you suspect it’s not for breakfast at Tiffany’s.

In truth, it’s hard to take. The Darlington result came only a fortnight after a 2-0 win against Bradford City left us seventh in the table and with many observers more than happy with the progress being made.

Fast forward two weeks and three defeats, and the panic button has truly been pressed.

I always said that in football, no matter who you are you’re only ever three defeats away from a crisis. And so it has proved.

The club certainly can’t complain about the development and progress of young players. On our watch, the roll call of players growing from callow youth into established pro has been more than impressive.

In addition, players previously treading water were shipped out – or in one or two cases transformed into shining stars, earning the club good money in the process when they moved on.

But the bottom line in management is results, and once a vocal section had made their feelings clear, the end was nigh.

Stormclouds gather over Iffy's old workplace

So the gig is up, and you’re left wondering where you go from here.

Premier League and to some degree Championship managerial casualties are at least buttressed by a substantial financial package, but below that the reality can be very different.

There’ll be no months on end spent on the golf course improving the handicap; no round-the-world trip with previously long-suffering and neglected family; no obvious route onto the Match of the Day sofa to exchange witty bon mots with Gary, Alan and Mark while admitting to being “flattered” to be linked with the vacancy at X, Y or Z.

In fact if the first day’s anything to go by it’s usually an escape to the solace of a glass or several of something strong, in the company of self-same long-suffering and previously neglected family.

I won’t miss the 4am Monday morning starts from Bristol, that’s for sure; with most weeks panning out in a similar vein, I shall definitely catch up on some sleep now.

Sometimes you know that some people have got it in for you.

For me, it was when I got wind of an argument circling around that scourge of the modern coach/manager, the unofficial websites and forums, as to what exactly my role at the club entailed.

That was the case at one point last season, and it left me incredulous and bemused.

I’m obviously clearly in need of some serious PR work because I would have thought that anyone habitually doing a 60-hour-plus week – excluding travel – should be immune from the charge of dereliction of duty.

It seemed not though; must put that call in to Saatchi and Saatchi without delay!

So, fuelled by a bottle or several of a dry Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s onwards and upwards from here.

I confess to being a bit of a spiritual soul at heart and an uncertain future professionally doesn’t necessarily have to mean an uncertain mind.

Travel definitely broadens the mind and my Better Half and I have already discussed our next move.

Suffice to say her idea – to press the red button and unleash a holy war against all things Lincoln City – was quietly shelved by my more stoic demeanour.

Far more amenable for me is the possibility of unleashing my inner hippy.

Whether it’s a trek through the mountains of Chiang Mai in Thailand or a Thelma and Louise-style, Route 66-inspired trip across the States, the options available are endless in this fascinatingly beautiful world of ours.

And after that, well who knows? I’m obviously leaving all my options open, including weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs!

But in the end it usually comes back to football. She can be a cruel mistress, and rather like a beautiful woman who plays with your emotions, you know deep down you’ll end up crying into your beer one day over her.

But the fact is, she seems to be hotwired into your DNA, and like countless others, you’re hooked and can’t really imagine another way to work. To paraphrase Arnie, “I’ll be back... hopefully.”

Iffy Schwarzenegger sets off down Route 66

As for the blog, I was cursorily summoned to the FourFourTwo HQ to discuss the crisis.

The editor approached me ruddy-faced to demand what on earth was going on and this isn’t what was promised when I started the blog.

I explained gently to him, as he spat out furious invective, that if he could possibly see past the small but not insignificant problem of me trying to write a weekly blog from a club that I no longer work for, everything would be just fine.

He’s working on it and I’ll get back to you on that one... possibly!

Iffy

[Ed: Of course we'll be hearing more from Iffy. He's no longer got any of those preposterous excuses about being at reserves games in St Alban's...]

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