Alan Smith – Libero.

As far as first team selections go, I’d say Mark Coopers first Notts County team selection verges on semi outrageous.

Cooper has gone with a 3-5-2 with Alan Smith playing at the heart of the back three. Thierry Audel was due to start, but after a late injury Smith continues his footballing journey from number 9 to goalkeeper, presumably…

Hollis, Smith and Boyce looks slow, but protected by a solid 3 in midfield, it could work. I might have been tempted to bring Elliot Hewitt into centre half and Wes Atkinson to right wing back.

Mentioning the 3 in midfield, welcome back Stanley Aborah. It’s not a surprise to see him back in the team, Cooper wants to play football and he is arguably our most gifted player – simples. Playing him alongside Thompson with Noble probably just in front is a good choice; legs and quality.

My big hope is McLeod and Stead play alongside each other. I appreciate one may have to drop in on occasion, but having Noble in an advanced position should allow them to play as a two.

Come on you pies…

“It’s rubbish and it’s annoying…”

Is probably the most accurate thing that happened at Meadow Lane yesterday. More on Jon Stead’s candid interview later…

After Tuesday nights ‘performance’ the knives were firmly out for Jamie Fullarton. Yesterday was a must win. Not in terms of relegation, but in terms of giving the fans something to cheer about. A win yesterday would have given Fullarton a slight (emphasis on the word slight) bit of kudos with the fans.

The first half signalled a definite improvement. By no means were we excellent, but we certainly played better than any home game under Fullarton I can remember. We put little passages of play together. Jason Banton got in decent positions and we created outstanding chances that should have been taken. Bristol Rovers had their chances, but Notts did too.

When, inevitably, Cristian Montano scored to put Rovers one nil up, it showed that Notts’ defensive frailties haven’t really been addressed. After a poor Wes Atkinson back pass, Notts failed to deal with the next phase of play, Atkinson found himself lacking in the ‘weights’ department and allowed Montano to slot under Loach; who should have done better too.

The first 45 came and went with a definite improvement in performance but not to much of a difference from the fans. 
The 2nd half was again, atrocious. The way Fullarton sets Notts up is instantly undermined as soon as we go behind. For the fourth home game in a row, we were far too deep. In particular, the central midfield two. When Rovers attacked, players moved and went forward. When we went forward, Milsom and Thompson were camped near the half way line. Even Jon Stead, a striker, is played too deep in the ‘number 10’ role. Why aren’t Stead and McLeod being played as a pair? Up front, together, occupying the centre halves and the midfield pushed up 10/15/20 yards? Just that intent would endear Fullarton slightly more to the fans.

When the second goal went in, most Notts players seemed to give up. We allowed Rovers to nip the ball around us, never getting close to them. Stead summed up the whole atmosphere by pleading, desperatly pleading with the midfield to push up. Stead cut a frustrated figure, along with 4000 odd Notts fans.

The other significant happening after 2-0 was a ‘Fullarton Out’ bed sheet whipped out of a club shop bag and held aloft at the front of the Kop. It didn’t surprise me to see it, and I was quietly amused to see the return of an angry bed sheet. How very 90’s…

The second half petered out with no one really being particularly bothered. Notts showed glimpses of fight but it was all in vain. On the final whistle, the boo’s rang around Meadow Lane. The players wandered over to the Kop to applaud and Fullarton disappeared down the tunnel. A thoroughly dismal afternoon….

Now, back to Stead’s interview. Stead spoke honestly about a terrible afternoon and run of form. He spoke about the tension and disappointment in the dressing room. The fact the players must stick together to get anything out of the season. The ‘rag-arse’ nature of the second half. Fair play.

Then Fullarton appeared. He said ‘naivety’ in his ‘young squad’ was apparent. Well Mr Fullarton; sort it out. Carroll, Edwards, Smith, Aborah and Noble. There are 4 experienced players. While I wouldn’t condone playing two of them, and you don’t like a third, they are old or experienced heads that you think we need. Don’t moan when a solution is sat around you; get it sorted.

When all is put together, it shows Fullarton is way out of his depth. He should never have been given the job but now he has it, he obviously can’t do it. Just his substitutions show it; Graham Burke came on to play wide right. Probably the sweetest left foot in the squad was played out of position. 88 minutes; Rhys Sharpe for Blair Adams. Left back for left back.

Thanks Jamie, joker.

Dear Mr Chief Executive… 

Good evening Mr Winter,
I write to you as a Notts County fan who sees your mentioned (in interview with BBC Radio Nottingham) ‘disunited’ club as a huge worry. 

I agree the club feels disunited and this is no more highlighted by the fact Mr Trew has decided to sell up based on the awful, disgraceful abuse he and his family has recieved. What has worried me very recently and is the cause of this email, were some of your comments in the interview mentioned above.
At one point, you quite correctly said;
‘You don’t just create successful football clubs by being disunited and unhappy with the manager…’
This is quite obviously true. You qualified this by saying;
‘Fans have to help us overcome that, fans have a roll to play’ 
The that to which you were referring to was 2 poor performances at home. I find it bizarre you would only mention the fans in detail when talking about how we can overcome it. The fans do not pick the team. The fans do not train the footballers in the week. The fans do not set out game plans. The fans do not change things when things don’t go right on the pitch. This is down to the manager and management team. A team you and others have installed. To lay, what to me feels like blame at paying supporters is poor form from someone describing a ‘disunited’ club – how will that reunite us? It won’t…
You went on to say the fans can help by;
‘Creating an environment for all to have a confidence to play here…’ 
Where is the fans confidence coming from? An old cliched question in football is; ‘Do the fans get the players going or do player get the fans going?” It’s clear to me it is the latter. We are paying to watch our club perform – something they are not currently doing. At home, Jamie Fullarton produces dispiriting football for fans to watch. Players are being used out of position, substitutes aren’t being used effectively and some players are inexplicably not even being used. I think to level at the fans the line we are ‘creating an anxious atmosphere’ is again poor form when that ‘anxiety’ is coming from average management; management you and others put in place.
As a Notts fan, I need to have confidence put into me by my club. We are regularly short changed and recent events, twinned with your comments leave me feeling the same.
I’ll still be paying 2 lots of £22 in the next 5 days to support my club – but plenty won’t. Ticketing is another thing that we as a club don’t do effectively in my opinion.
I look forward to your reply.
Yours sincerely,
Tom