New Lincoln City Head Coach Michael Skubala is relishing his first match in charge away at Stevenage on Saturday, with a long-term goal of getting the Imps promoted to the Championship.
The departure of former Lincoln Head Coach Mark Kennedy after a brief 17-month tenure set the rumour mills churning, and even talk of a return for former boss Danny Cowley, before Skubala was appointed in the top job, bringing with him 20 years worth of coaching experience.
Nottingham-born Skubala previously coached England’s Under-18 team as well as working with the Under-21s squad at Leeds United. His time on the coaching staff at Leeds also included three games as interim head coach and a 2-2 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Skubala takes over Lincoln with the Imps ninth and four points off the play-off places in League One. After Saturday’s trip to fifth-placed Stevenage and an away match at Leyton Orient, Skubala will take charge of his first home game against Barnsley on November 25.
After a busy week meeting the players and staff, and taking his first training session, Skubala sat down with local media at the club.
Lincoln City's new Head Coach Michael Skubala met with local media for the first time on Thursday, November 16, 2023. Photo: The Lincolnite
“It was a tough, rigorous process, with lots of challenges, which I quite like because I think they really dug deep into me, and where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and all the detail around it,” he said.
“Football doesn’t usually operate like that, but I actually quite like that because for me it showed that the club has a plan and they’re really diligent on their recruitment.
“My time at Leeds has been amazing. This club attracted me away from what I believe is a really good job and I enjoyed it, but it was just too good to turn down.
“Being their manager is an amazing journey, but I think it’s the right time to step out and step into Lincoln, and hopefully take all those experiences working with some of the top players in the world everyday to come and hopefully support these players to improve every day."
Michael Skubala is the new head coach at Lincoln City. Photo: Andrew Vaughan/Lincoln City FC
So how would he describe his management style?
“High challenge, high support,” he said. “I think high challenge by the players and then high support that means every day on the training pitch working hard, getting the best out of them, and then supporting the players to be the best they can be.
“If we can do that, I think we’ll get success on and off and we’ll see some players progressing as well.”
From what he’s seen so far he thinks “little tweaks” are needed, saying “you won’t see a lot of changes in the short-term” as he looks to stamp his authority on the team. He said a great player for Lincoln will be “brave to get on it when it’s the right time and brave to go after it when we haven’t got it.”
Skubala didn’t know too much about the city before taking the job of head coach, but admitted he nearly bought a house on the outskirts of Lincoln a few years ago and is looking forward to visiting the Cathedral.
Lincoln City head coach Michael Skubala at the club's LNER Stadium. Photo: Andrew Vaughan/Lincoln City FC
When asked if he’s allowed himself to set any targets and thinking about the play-offs as a possibility, he said: “I’m thinking about winning on Saturday at the moment, that’s my biggest target.
“The physicality is going to be a challenge for us (against Stevenage), but hopefully we can deal with that and manage it well.”
“I think long-term it’d be brilliant to get Lincoln up into the Championship, but it’s going to take a while,” he added.
Having managed three games in the Premier League, how much will that experience help him going forward?
He said: “I think when you’re exposed to that, rightly or wrongly, what it gives you is the top level of the game, what it takes to be at the top level for players, and to be a top level manager. It’s an unbelievable experience.”
Skubala will also be working along Tom Shaw, who was in charge of the team after Kennedy’s departure and will remain as a key part of
the structure as the Imps’ assistant head coach.
“He is a really good character and has done a great job in the interim,” Skubala said.
“I know better than anyone how difficult interim periods can be at clubs, but I think he’s done a sterling job. First and foremost,
he’s honest, hard-working, and he’s got some really good technical attributes so I’m really pleased with Tom.”
Lincoln City Head Coach Michael Skubala at the club's LNER Stadium. Photo: The Lincolnite
And finally, what is Skubala’s message to the fans?
“Get behind us, get behind the team,” he said. “You’ll choose whether to get behind me or not, but definitely get behind the team, that’s the most important thing.
“I’ve definitely seen at different clubs where the fans have got behind the team, it makes such a difference. And I’ve been here a couple of times and I’ve seen the fans and know that’s what they’re about, which is good.”