Not good enough.

“I know I have got to get my act together, and the players have got to get their act together.”
You’re damn right Sheridan, damn right. After yet another toothless, directionless and downright inept home ‘performance’ it’s clear for all to see that something is seriously wrong at Notts. Some of the issues are obvious to the eye; abject performances from one through to eleven and a lifeless, empty and tired stadium are just a couple. But what is becoming even more obvious is that Notts County is a club with absolutely no direction, no leadership and no long term vision – a legacy left by the Ray Trew ownership.
Like I’ve said before, I’ll be forever grateful for Trew for coming in and saving Notts on the back of the Munto Finance disaster. All roads led to administration with debts over seven million pounds when the quoted debts were nearer two and a half million pounds, but Trew backed himself, brought Steve Cotterill in and the rest is Lee Hughes laden history. For most sensible, rational and sane Notts fans, this is all a given.
But now, enough is enough – Ray Trew and the fact he still owns and runs the club is having a massive negative impact on Meadow Lane – he is killing the club. The club we love, the club we’ve supported for years, the club we helped save long before Trew was owner and the club we’ll support long after Trew leaves.
Just look at a very simple figure from last night; 2736. Factoring in the away support, not even 2500 Notts fans made ML last night. At only 26 years old, I reckon that’s the lowest league attendance I’ve ever sat in at ML. I appreciate that 3 home games in 7 days is a financial struggle for some fans, but we’ve done that before and had crowds nearer 5,000. Put simply, the fans are disaffected, annoyed and down right pissed off at the current state of just about everything at the club and they’re voting with their feet and their wallets; well, their closed wallets.
The attendance last night was embarrassing but I do not and will not blame any fans who’ve stayed away – I blame the club. The football is awful, the prices are too high and the entertainment is low bordering on non-existent. I believe this is the result of a general malaise that has set in at Notts and it has been allowed to set in by those right at the top. We have no vision, no leader and seemingly no idea as a club where we are going. Trew doesn’t want to be here, we get that, but I hate the fact that it seems he is happy to let us keep plodding on and ‘existing’, rather than having us look upwardly mobile, like a club that is going places. His deadline of no sale and stay put came and went without even a statement of intent from the club – where did that leave us? Lost. Rudderless. Isolated. The fans were and are angry. ML felt like it had no soul last night and that’s not good enough.
Obviously, Trew isn’t to blame for what happens on the pitch and it’s time for Sheridan to change the tune and sort it out. The last 3 defeats could have all been summarized with the same interview, rather than him repeat himself to Uncle Colin – stop telling us we’ve been shit and do something about it. What do they actually do in training? It’s clear he doesn’t know his best team and his best formation – not good enough for the back end of November John; no way near. And if by having 5 subs on Saturday was your nod to Trew to get some more players in January then again – not good enough, stick a couple of kids on there; what message are you sending to the youth team with stunts like that?
It’s pointless doing a report on last night when it’s easy to summarize in few points;
  • Second best to everything in the first half.
  • Bullied in the lead up to their goal.
  • Huffed and puffed in the second half.
  • Wouldn’t have scored if we were still playing now.

Everything about the club at the minute worries me and I don’t see anything to put those worries to bed.


Round Pegs in Round Holes?

After an absolute shambles of a ‘performance’ at Bloomfield Road on Saturday, John Sheridan has come in for plenty of stick with regards his team selection, amongst other things, and his blatant use of players out of positions. At times there is a need for certain players to ‘do a job’ but with Sheridan it looks quite obvious that he doesn’t know his best 11. So, with that in mind, what would Notts’ best 11 look like?

Firstly, a key factor in favour of the argument that Sheridan still doesn’t know his best team is that he can’t pick a favoured formation; 4-4-2? 4-5-1? 4-3-3? 3-5-2? From what we’ve got, we have to go 4-5-1…

GK – Collin or Loach?

After Roy Carroll left for his native Northern Ireland, it seemed logical Scott Loach would take the number one jersey but JS had different ideas. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, Adam Collin hasn’t impressed me consistently yet. In recent weeks he’s looked a bit better but he doesn’t dominate his area with any sort of convinction and he loves his six yard box; so much so he won’t come out of it! Plenty of conceded goals could’ve been avoided/made a tad more difficult by a bit of old fashioned ‘rushing out.’

Verdict – ?

DEF – Audel, Tootle, Hewitt, Liang, Duffy, Hollis, Dickinson, Milsom.

Looking at it like that; it’s slim pickings. The one name that stands out is Louis Liang. Excellent in his first spell on loan and (when played at CB) is easily our best defender but RB? No thanks. He’s got the ability on the ball, but positionally he can’t play it – anything that turns him around and makes him run to his own goals scares him. Head, kick, pass. The much maligned Haydn Hollis has the basics, but needs the confidence – on his day he is a man mountain and he can be a success at this level – and he’s miles better than Rob Duffy whose been one of the biggest disappointments of the season. 

Talking of disappointments, step forward Carl Dickinson. Easily our worst signing this season; touch, head up, 50 yard diag to (generally) no one. Character but no ability; drop/release/freeze out. On the other flank we actually have some competition. Thierry Audel has been one of our better players this calendar year, Matt Tootle has been our best player this season and Elliot Hewitt has ability. Purely because Tootle, in my opinion, is better in CM then Audel takes it.

Verdict – Audel, Liang, Hollis, Milsom.

CM – Aborah, O’Connor, Richards, Smith, Tootle, Thompson.

CM seems to be a sticking point – O’Connor will play as he’s captain and although he’s yet to hit a consistent run of form he’s definitely got the ability to run the show from midfield. The same should be said for Aborah but our most gifted player technically hasn’t had the impact we’d all hoped for – him, O’Connor and Tootle would be an excellent midfield three. Tootle would be your ideal ‘sitter’ and each one of SA and MO’C should rotate between sitting alongside him whilst the other pushes on to support a front man.

Jordan Richards has come in and done a good job. He’s calm on the ball and gets round the pitch well – I’d love to see him impose himself more on the opposition but for a young man making his way in the game that might be a lot to ask – should be viewed as a definite option and certainly ahead of Alan Smith. He shoudk be our last 20 minute man, seeing out games with his experience but not a starter and certainly NOT UP FRONT ON HIS OWN!!!

Our biggest miss so far this season has been Curtis Thompson. He’s the classic example of a player who you don’t realise how good he is until he’s not there. He’s tidy with the ball but the amount of ground he covers is phenomenal – he’s just what you need in this league – he won’t give up on a cause or stop running. Character.

Verdict – Aborah, Tootle, O’Connor but Aborah, Thompson, O’Connor and Tootle to RB when CT’s fit.

W – Snijders, Rodman, Collins, Burke, Forte.

Let’s get this out of the way early doors – Jon Forte is not a left winger. Graham Burke needs a run in the team; yes he lacks pace but he has undoubted quality and with Rob Milsom behind him, providing energy on the overlap, he’s got to have a chance? On a similar note, Aaron Collins could play wide left, cutting in and joining the main striker – but I think he’s better as an impact sub.

Right wing has been occupied nearly exclusively by Alex Rodman; but what does he really do? Another really non-descript signing. Although he’s not played much over his time at Notts, Gennaro Snijders seems a real fans favourite. His direct style and decent delivery should really see him be the pace and drive that Notts have really missed this season.

Verdict – Snijders and Burke.

ST – Stead, Forte, Campbell, Collins and Oliver.

Let’s get the easy shouts out the way; Oliver and Collins are impact subs and good options to have. Adam Campbell has bags of ability and wants to play the game in the right way, but can’t be the only man up top due to the facts Notts can’t pass on the deck consistently for 90 minutes.

Now for the big one – it’s Forte over Stead for me. I’m fully aware that Stead is our top scorer, 100% man and all round ‘have a go hero’ but whilst he does score good and great goals, when he’s not firing he is poor. His first touch can be about as good as mine and is generally hooked when he hasn’t scored and from what I’ve seen of Forte still has a decent amount of pace to frighten defenders at this level and an eye for goal.

Notts fans are screaming for him to be played up front whilst Stead is injured and it seems only JS can’t see it – but when he’s back it’ll be a big choice to make. Stead will be straight back in but he’s got to go for Forte – his pace will stretch plenty of defences and allow the midfield to push on an affect the game higher up the pitch; something Notts must do at home.

Verdict – Forte.

So, there you go sports fans, Notts’ best 11 in a 4-5-1 formation (with no goalie…).