Notts County ended their 2015/2016 campaign with a performance befitting the season as a whole; a 5-0 pumping in which the team essentially gave up.
Everyone who went on Saturday and indeed those who didn’t, don’t need to be told how awful we were. But for me, Saturday was indicative of the season as a whole from the club as a whole.
The game was played at a snails pace, with no intensity and desire to do anything productive. It seemed to summarise the general malaise at the club. The players didn’t look too bothered, the fans are pissed off and mostly everything that comes out of the club is poorly thought out.
After a summer of mass recruitment by the combined nouse of Ricardo Moniz and Guy ‘Top Man’ Branston, the cast of thousands made a decent start but with the obvious misgiving; a glaring inability to defend consistently and properly. Signings like Jon Stead, Stanley Aborah, Izale McLeod, Graham Burke and others gave Notts fans real hope of doing something this season but failing to address the defensive frailties ultimately cost Moniz his job. The general consensus was this was the right choice; our inability to win away was masked by our decent home form but as soon as this deteriorated then it was curtains for Moniz.
From this point forward, the season basically turned into a huge, embarrassing, steaming pile of turd. After we were told an experienced manager would replace Moniz (let’s mention at this point with a decent appointment we had a chance of getting into the play offs…) and all courses set for Mark Cooper to take over, we were treated to Jamie Fullarton. The backlash was incredible. We all feared that this would be a poor, cheap appointment of an untried coach from across the Trent and all of those fears and more, were recognised. After two good away results, we turned into one of the worst Notts teams I’ve ever seen. No invention, no idea, no glimpse of quality. Fullarton was always on a hiding to nothing and the fans circled in quickly; the amount of dislike (to put it nicely) for Fullarton was another first.
Alongside poor performances and awful post match press interviews was the Stanley Aborah saga. Aborah was dropped by Fullarton amid rumours of refusal to play and refusal to pick. Weeks and weeks into his tenure a statement was made by the club that about two days into his reign Aborah told Fullarton he would not play for him or the club. Then, sanctioned by the club(!), Aborah was interviewed by Radio Nottingham, in his house, saying that was nonsense and he wanted to play. Blame probably lies on both sides, but my my was Fullarton left out to dry or what? Swift action should’ve taken place within hours of this alleged refusal to play (something I maintain Aborah wouldn’t have done) and the matter should have been resolved either way. But it was allowed to rumble on and ultimately made Fullarton so unpopular even trigger happy Ray Trew had to press the big red button again.
So, after two months or so wasted, Mark Cooper was appointed until the end of the season, with the caveat of a points target, believed now to have been 12, needed to trigger talks on a permenant deal. Under Cooper, Notts looked better in patches but equally as bad if not worse than we were under Fullarton. I can’t be doing with all this ‘no blame on Cooper’s part.’ Losing three games with an accumulative score of 14-0 when you have time with the squad to coach them to defend or work as a unit is absolutely unacceptable. It was easy for him to hammer players after games and people think ‘oh they’re not his players’ but he must be held accountable for some of the shit they’ve put out in the last 10 games – what have you spent the week in training doing? I hope you enjoy Wembley Mark…
Don’t get me wrong; the players have been poor too. Stead and McLeod have probably been the two biggest disappointments. Yes Jon Stead runs around and tries, fair play, but that’s the minimum a footballer should do. McLeod has become everyone’s scapegoat, but with no service he’ll always look poor. You can level at him that he’s lazy, but you feed him and he bags 20 goals in this league, easily. Like I’ve mentioned, defensively we’ve been awful. Mike Edwards shouldn’t have played a single game this season but probably ended 2nd in the POTY vote. Haydn Hollis has been distinctly average and topped it off with one of the worst individual performances from a Notts player I’ve ever seen yesterday. The playing staff this season have been epitomised by Liam Noble. He has quality, but on a consistent basis he cannot do it. Over a season he can’t cut the mustard and his disciplinary record is an absolute disgrace. Along with a few others, I never want to see Noble play for Notts again. He’s let us down on more than one occasion and that’s unforgivable.
An underlying factor that has killed our season is the chronic lack of relationship between the club and its fans. Ray Trew is renowned for saying one thing and it not coming to fruition; a trend continued with talk of a takeover in the second half of the season. This debacle has been the straw that’s broken many a camels back for most. Football fans don’t want to be told what you think we want to hear, we want to be told what’s happening. I don’t need to go to the end of season AGM or be on the mailing list, I just want my club to communicate with me, a loyal fan, when it is necessary to do so. Communication should be short, to the point, open and honest. Not, ‘ooooo we’ve got an ex premier strikers phone number and my PA will ring him and he might come but there are others factors involved…’ Just be straight with us. Stop continually doing us over.
Ray Trew must take the lion share of the blame for the position we’re in. His appointments and then firings, of key people in the club structure haven’t worked; and this isn’t a new thing, it has happened since Cotterill left. He has almost single handedly killed the relationship between the fans and the club through his inability to engage his brain before his mouth. It’s time to sell up Ray and let us rebuild on our own. Notts fans will be eternally greatful for saving us, but that can’t allow you to keep killing us.
Overall, it’s been a bad season. I’ve seen some rubbish play for this club and awful relegations, but this season is the worst I’ve ever seen. We had high hopes in August and frankly we’ve been embarrassing and the fans have been embarrassed on a number of occasions. Martin Allen summed us up perfectly; too many people have turned their back on the club and the fans are completely exempt from that statement. We have been let down badly and it needs sorting.
The club needs to connect with the fans again. We need an experienced manager who knows the league. We need stability. We need Notts County back.