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Alex West
Alex West

Alex West column: Just what is Notts County's agenda?

So, what can be said about the once voted 'most stressful club' some years ago? Well, the last few years have brought us relegation battles, false promises from rich owners, and more managers than Betty has made hot pots.
 
It's been a season so far of ifs and buts, hasn't it? It certainly has for me. What if Ricardo Moniz was given sole responsibility for player recruitment? What if he was allowed to choose his own backroom team? What if Izale McLeod was given a strike partner instead of putting his perfect match on the left wing? 

Maybe things would be better - maybe they would be worse? Who knows? The most alarming and most frustrating element of the season is: what is our agenda? What direction and philosophy is the club trying to follow? We were promised a quality core of players surrounded by up and coming talent – yet the opposite has happened.

These questions haven’t been answered - which is probably the most frustrating thing for every Notts fan that 'packs' out Meadow Lane every other Saturday afternoon.

There has been an evident divide among Notts fans regarding the chairman, Ray Trew. It’s hugely apparent that he does have the ambition to take this club forward, by substantially backing Moniz in the summer with quality acquisitions in McLeod, Jon Stead, Scott Loach and of course, the foreign contingent which everybody was so excited about. 

However, it’s fair to say that performances have been inconsistent at best. We've had truly awful performances against teams we should be competing with on all levels - Carlisle, Wimbledon, Cambridge, Mansfield and of course the horror show at Salford. But on the flip side, we have seen the best attacking football seen for years against Barnet, Huddersfield, Crawley, Luton and Premiership side Aston Villa.
 
So what have we learnt from the squad we have? How can we describe the quality of players we possess? Personally, we potentially have one of the best XI in the division with one of the division’s most lethal finisher, arguably the best goalkeeping duo and quality across the middle in the shapes of Stanley Aborah, Liam Noble, Robert Milsom and Curtis Thompson.
 
We have good quality in both youth and depth that very rarely challenge the starting XI with Genaro Snijders, Wes Atkinson, Rhys Sharpe, Lartey Sarpong, Scott Loach, Jimmy Spencer, Ronan Murray, Graham Burke, Gill Swerts, Kyle de Silva and Filip Valencic all warming their cobbles on the bench with a hot cup of the Kop’s famous Bovril.
 
So why the poor league position? Why another manager that couldn't last a season? Does it come from above? Are Trew and Winter getting involved into footballing affairs instead of letting the manager do his job? And on that note we welcome Jamie Fullarton - is he the 'Yes Man' that RT has been after? Maybe. Or maybe, RT has seen something in Fullarton that no one else has. 

Sacked from Bolton for 'mismanagement' of the youth team and known for his aggressive and disciplinarian management style. Not the appointment Notts fans were shouting about when the shortlist consisted of proven high quality managers with names of John Sheridan, Mark Cooper and Lee Clarke who have all been successful at this level. To say Jamie needs to win over the fans quick is the understatement of the season.
 
Fullarton is up against it already with his bizarre team selection and awful defensive tactics on Saturday accompanied by the worst performance of the entire season. Now we go to Luton, another team in this division that should be challenging the top 6. 

Myself, and 8 others, will be checking into the Comfort Hotel and no doubt come 3:45pm, be moaning and groaning at another bemusing team selection and awful first half of football. Or knowing Notts, be 3-0 up with the best attacking and fluid football we have seen for years. Who knows! It is Notts after all…
 
See you all Saturday.

COYP

 

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JF could really do with grinding out the basics so that we overcome last Saturday's result. This seasons has been weird, really weird but hopefully all isn't lost.

My sights aren't set on the play-offs, it's just focused on making progress now.

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Bizarre that he dropped Valencic after he scored the winning goal against Crawley, suppose it had to to be done though, to accommodate Mcleod. Good write up Alex, btw. COYP. 

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As Julie says, it was bizarre to drop Valencic after his winning goal but we have to move on. The dwelling on previous games is not healthy.

Good read Alex, hope to see more in the future.

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@Alex West A nicely written piece. In terms of the squad, it is the piece of the squad that you have not highlighted that has been our downfall, namely the central defence ( and maybe the full backs too). We now have a glut of midfield players but the key elements of the defence were not given sufficient scrutiny. The shopping list last summer had to include a decent tall, no nonsense centre half. All we got was Bennett, which despite of so called good reports from Newport, doesnt really have the stature of what we were really looking for. Amevor, for the Reserves, looks more comfortable as a centre half but whether he gets the chance for the first team, maybe we will never know.

Some people have been praising the return of Adams. So when he does return, along with Bennett, they both get played in their secondary positions....midfield..isn't that where we are overloaded with "talent" in those positions?

In the Reserves, the defence is working fine, given the number of clean sheets. We just live in hope that Jamie pulls the lever on the one arm bandit and comes up with a winning defensive combination that works. All we have got so far on the machine are the proverbial Melons, with a soft centre

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Just to step back one moment to ponder, Ray's appointment of Ricardo meant a seismic change in football philosophy, to a progressive total football style along the lines that Swansea followed when they were in League 2. Well Ricardo's gung ho football did not deliver the results one would have anticipated. We naturally assumed that  Jamie was a more refined manager but still following Ricardo's style. On the evidence so far, we have retrenched back to Derry's hoofball but with a squad Ricardo built. Are the "pure" footballing talent being marginalised? What exactly did Winter mean by "Best fit"? We will see what Saturday brings

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