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What a poor state we were in!

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Interesting article in the red rag today. Just confirms what most of us knew already though.



IT WAS a brisk November morning and Shaun Derry had begun his first day as Notts County manager by impressing upon his players the standards he required on and off the pitch.

It was, he said, a fresh start for everybody as he attempted to reinvigorate a squad rock bottom of League One and destined for relegation.

But, in what was symptomatic of a dressing room which had grown out of control, assistant manager Greg Abbott reveals some players did not want to save themselves.

"On Shaun's first day two players were late, one of whom was an hour," he says.

"That gives you a picture of how bad it was.

"Some players felt they could turn up when they wanted and do what they wanted.

"But it didn't stop there. In the first home game against Wolves, one player walked in 15 minutes after the team talk.

"Shaun actually thought he had been in the medical room to get treatment, but he was late and you just can't have that at any football club, be it at the top level or the bottom.

"The training was lethargic and lacked tempo, which is something I noticed straight away. We tried to make it enjoyable and intense but to also have an honesty about it.

"Every day I turned up with a session and every minute was planned and structured.

"All I asked the players to do was to give their all for one hour and 15 minutes.

"Frankly, some of them could not even do that.

"Nothing was out of the ordinary. We certainly didn't ask the players to run up hills after the end of training.

"We never even asked them to come in on a Sunday.

"After losing 6-0 at Rotherham, for example, we could have had them in the next day, but we stayed in the dressing room and talked it through.

"Sunday is a cheap punishment, it's actions on a Monday which count.

"But all of those things were going on and there was a general complacency throughout the football side of the club.

"Married up to that, you had the fans, who were probably finding it dull to watch because of the lack of energy and enthusiasm. There was no reason for them to come and watch their beloved Notts County."

The problems that were affecting the dressing room were manifesting themselves in the results and, more importantly, performances.

Managers can accept defeat if players have drained their reservoir of energy levels, but not if they are producing football's equivalent of being laid on a sun lounger.

The only way in which Derry and Abbott could stamp their authority was to get tough, and by the end of the season those who did not want to shape-up were shipped out.

Among the casualties who either lost their place in the team or were released were strikers Yoann Arquinn, Enoch Showunmi and midfielder Joss Labadie.

"In the first few weeks of being at the club, there were a hell of a lot of things which needed addressing," continues Abbott.

"Some needed sorting quickly, others we knew we could correct over time.

"But the morale in the dressing room was an immediate concern, especially the behaviour and the mindset of the players in terms of what was acceptable and what wasn't.

"You have to remember, the first thing any fan sees is the results and, let's be frank, they were not good enough.

"There must be a reason for that, and for the amount of money invested in the playing squad, there was something drastically wrong.

"The manager went and addressed that. He laid it on the line. He wanted everybody to respect the club, respect the badge and everybody had to give everything they had.

"The ones who couldn't do that didn't finish the journey.

"He could not have been more honest and that's what stands out for Shaun and myself, an honesty about our work and what we want from others.

"You have to upset a few people and eventually the dressing room began to think, 'what's going on here'.

"Before you know it we got improved energy levels and determination."

It is remarkable to think that a team which was bottom of the league in November and had won three games all season then went on to complete the greatest of escapes.

Derry and Abbott's work behind the scenes, in what became a mass weeding exercise, galvanised the players and, more importantly, the football club.

A stunning run towards the end of the season, which saw them record six wins out of their last nine games, meant they only needed a point from the final day against Oldham to survive.

They did just that by recording a 1-1 draw and the momentous scenes which followed at the final whistle wiped out the misery caused by heavy defeats to the likes of Rotherham and Walsall.

Now, with a clean slate and a new season on the horizon, Abbott is determined to repay the fans who had united in the face of crisis.

"The fans are so important, and that's why I'm doing this interview when it's summer and I should be on holiday, because I am passionate about them and what we do," he says.

"They deserve it because the two lowest points for me were the 6-0 defeat at Rotherham and the 5-1 loss at home to Walsall.

"The support we got was fantastic. For the fans to give us that, and given the way that I was brought up, they need payback.

"And that payback is total honesty, total determination and desire to make this a good club for them to watch.

"They have said, 'we will look after Shaun and Greg', although there have been people who have said these two are not right. But any people who were given the job at Notts County, someone would have maintained they were the wrong choice.

"What you've got to try to do is convince people by the way you work and the manner of your personality, and, more importantly, results.

"If people can see you are giving everything you have got and believe in you, then you have a fighting chance with the supporters.

"They will get behind you and stay with you. If you show them honesty in every single department of your business, they will support you, and they certainly gave us that last season."

Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/morale-seemingly-hope-Shaun-Derry-Greg-Abbott/story-21272576-detail/story.html#ixzz35Io36kOb
Read more at http://www.nottinghampost.com/morale-seemingly-hope-Shaun-Derry-Greg-Abbott/story-21272576-detail/story.html#CzieuCmVmhc50bO8.99

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Times now to move forward, no questions about the type of situation GA/SD came into but the NEP/TiN are copying pretty much what was reported awhile back by the Football League Paper. None the less it's interesting, I think next season will be better and more enjoyable than the last.

Importantly better positioning.

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