Usually, at the beginning of the season, managers rotate their squads a fair amount – this was no doubt the same for Neal Ardley.
While many fans called for him to settle the squad down, myself included, it is quite natural to switch out players here and there. Sometimes, it’s a little concerning when it’s five or more and when it’s never allowed to settle.
Yes, sometimes it’s due to fitness concerns, tactical reasons but you know when there’s too many.
For the most of the 2019/20 season, I have felt encouraged and have seen some good performance.
There have been woeful ones, yet most players work hard to do well in games, and this is all we can ask of them.
Right now, there are several players massively out of form and a few who have been quite poor all season.
To a degree, this is to be expected after the season we had last year and all of the turmoil leading up to the current campaign – but there becomes a time when playing them isn’t the answer.
Before the recent form, I know fans talked about having “depth” in the squad, and I would have agreed, while the likes of Matt Tootle, Pierce Bird and others have been frozen out.
Sometimes it appears quite harshly; It makes you wonder if this is part of the issue, a lack of competition and rewards for performers who have done well.
Strong competition, a good level of morale led to a level of success during the 2017/18 season under Kevin Nolan, players coming into the squad knew what were expected to remain in the squad.
The complete opposite to the season in which Notts were relegated from the Football League for simply being not good enough.
After all, it must be disheartening for some players to put on the shirt, perform to a standard which they’re happy with, only to end up falling out of favour.
Sam Osborne is the perfect example since he’s an academy prospect and has bulked up a fair amount during the close season.
When he starts, I think he does better personally, whereas a sub it does take him a little time to get up to speed, and this is all-natural. I’m not knocking him, I think he’s a great prospect and if I were the manager of Notts County he would be starting a lot more.
Simply due to his work rate and importance of development, as he will only improve with game time.
Which leaves the question why we haven’t given the likes of Enzio Boldewijn a rest, a good player, defensively a disappointing but when in form – no doubt a quality player. This season, he’s appeared more of a luxury and quite fortunate that Ardley holds him with such high regards.
As to me, it seems Boldewijn is guaranteed a start either due to lacking natural wide men or simply due to the odd wonder goal he scores – which never gives the full facts about his performances.
I must stress, I do like him, and I’m trying to nitpick about him.
I feel that when you have a player so desperately out of form, it makes little sense to expect him to improve when he’s constantly being played and almost 99% guaranteed to start.
The same can be said for both full-back positions, Damien McCrory has looked good, but his form has dipped as of late.
Richard Brindley looks a good technical signing; however, much of the same can be said about him too.
At centre back, it’s almost like Ardley has gone out of his way to guarantee certain players will start in these positions. When asked about the position, he’s mentioned that he can’t make changes due to a lack of cover – yet allowed Bird to depart on loan to Boston United.
I know some fans also have concerns about our strike force; however, I don’t think they’re the issue.
Kyle Wootton has come into his element, found his boots and works hard. The only call I might suggest is switching Wes Thomas for Kristian Dennis when playing teams which either lack height at the back or have scrappy defenders who would leave Dennis the space to thrive.
Nathan Tyson is perfectly fine to be a rotational and casual starter, and there’s the option of putting him out wide if we require too.
In midfield, I do feel there’s a requirement for more creativity – Regan Booty is far more effective for me being able to dictate the passing and play a more advanced role as a play-maker.
I agree with many fans that Mitch Rose and Michael Doyle doesn’t work – yet would allowing Rose to go out wide make sense?
Rose hasn’t seemed the same player all season; however, I did feel he performed much better when Doyle was sitting out his suspension.
There are advantages to giving some young and hungry players a chance to start, but when they see that it’s almost certain that whatever they do – the following week will return to the same lineup there’s a major lack of motivation.
Give Osborne more game time, re-introduce Dion Kelly-Evans – consider giving Zoumana Bakayogo a game.
Allow Boldewijn and Rose to sit out a few games, bring in Booty or Shields to remove some of the pressure. Make the most of the depth we have at our disposal, and it’s easy for me to suggest this, much hard to put in practice – I admit.
Yet the issue Ardley faces is the fact it will only become harder the longer he leaves it. Squad morale and confidence would make a massive difference to this Notts County team.
Most fans want to see the club fighting, giving 100% and at times this has fallen short. Most people I know and I don’t expect us to be thrashing teams – that is unrealistic but throwing it out there as part of the problem doesn’t make it part of the solution.
Much like Ardley suggesting people want him to fail, fans want to see and feel the clubs moving forward.
Nobody’s bothered if certain people behind the scenes has problems, you have to get on with it. Otherwise, it seems like you have accepted it as a problem.