As the dust begins to settle on Lincoln City’s historic FA Cup run, the Cowley brothers sat down over breakfast this morning with Pitchero Non-League as they revealed their post-match discussion with Arsene Wenger.
The management duo were invited into Wenger’s office for a chat which lasted 90 minutes following their 5-0 quarter-final defeat at the Emirates Stadium last night.
Manager Danny and assistant Nicky eventually left with a dossier on their own team that the experienced boss had compiled showing the rigorous preparation Arsenal had been through.
The Imps went toe-to-toe with one of England’s biggest clubs for 45 minutes before Theo Walcott struck in first-half injury time and then four more followed in the second half as Lincoln tired.
The former PE teachers looked fresh and relaxed having been back to school during this incredible Cup run, albeit as students trying to absorb the lessons of wins over Oldham Atheltic, Ipswich Town, Brighton and Hove Albion and Premier League Burnley.
“We haven’t had any time to reflect and we probably won’t until the end of the season,” said older brother Danny.
“We will eventually sit down, draw a breath and assess things. There’s load to have learnt from this and it’s definitely fast-tracked the team.
“When you’re playing against world class, Premier League players, you get instant feedback from them – you make one mistake or a tactical error and you get hurt.”
And the Cowleys will have learnt plenty from their lecture with the ‘professor’ Wenger.
“He’s a legend. Everything he’s done at Arsenal has been incredible, particularly his early time as manager there,” added Nicky. “After the game he spent at least an hour and a half with us, and Steve Bould. It was a great insight into how they work and we learnt a lot from that, it was really enjoyable.
Danny chipped in: “We had all the Cowley sayings coming out. We were like Chris Tarrant firing questions at him!
“We couldn’t stop asking him questions, could we?” Nicky replied. “I think he was looking at the time in the end trying to get rid of us!
“The speed and incision of their passing was so fast. He told us that almost all week they work on one-touch and you could really sense that in the second half.”
Boss Danny continued: “For us, we just want to learn and if you can’t learn from someone with his experience and his knowledge of the game, then you’re not going to learn from anybody.
“With everything that has happened this week and for him still to be willing to give up the time that he did, but not only that and talk with so much enthusiasm and passion about the game.”
After a mid-week hammering against Bayern Munich, while Lincoln cruised past Braintree 4-0, Wenger took no risks and fielded a full-strength team.
“We saw Oxlade-Chamberlain coming off with an injury and we thought ‘oh ok, that might help’ and then you look to your left and Mesut Ozil is coming on,” said Danny after seeing the German World Cup winner return from illness.
“Whenever the other team make a sub we always tell our players what foot, what position they’re coming on at. They didn’t need telling about this one.”
There’s no time for Lincoln to dwell on their FA Cup achievements as an FA Trophy semi-final awaits at York City on Tuesday night.
Nicky added: “We’ll go back up to Lincoln tonight, we watched yesterday’s game back last night and we’ll watch it again at some point today.
“We’ll feedback to the players on Monday and put all the annotations on the video.
“We respect we’re going to be fish and chip paper now but the legacy from this cup run is learning, if we can learn from these experiences we’ll be better players and people from it.”