Notts have stumbled from season to season with no real plan and no real direction. The club has no identity.
There has never been any real stability. Notts have had 28 permanent managers since 1992.
With Alan Hardy soon to be selling the club, here’s a list of things that needs to change at Notts if we are to make our way back up the leagues.
Not just do the decisions made on a managerial appointment have to be crucial, but when the manager gets the job, they must be tactically aware. Too many times, Notts have had managers who are tactically inept. They don’t adapt to the oppositions way of playing. Against teams who pass the ball, you press the opposition and win the ball back as quick as possible (e.g. Crewe). Against physical teams, you put more robust and tall players in to cope with the physical challenge (e.g. Newport).
They don’t install a style of play good enough to get us out of situations or get us to be successful on the pitch. Some managers put too much emphasis on one part of the pitch and that has cost them their job. Jamie Fullarton put too much emphasis on being strong at the back and didn’t focus more on getting Notts to score goals. Ricardo Moniz did the opposite.
Also, you cannot want to play a certain style of play and then end up going against it. You have to believe in what you want to do. This mixes in with recruitment. If you want to play direct, you cannot have two strikers up front who are 5’9. You have to prepare adequately for what style of play you want to play. How many times do you see Crewe play long ball? You don’t. If it’s not working either, change it up.
Too many times Notts have allowed teams to play with freedom and we don’t do enough to close the opposition down. We don’t press the opposing team and we are not brave enough with the ball. For too long we have relied on Jon Stead as an outlet. This is nothing against Jon, but he is 36 and we don’t use him correctly anyway. He has always liked the ball to his feet and constantly we use him as a target man and ask him to hold the ball up or produce a flick on for a faster player to get in behind. This rarely works and it has rarely worked this season (18/19). Plus, everytime we need to press the opposing team, we start Stead who is too slow and won’t close them down.
Notts have not had any sort of quality on the wings in recent years other than Jorge Grant (who was a loanee and is more of a CAM). Terry Hawkridge worked hard but didn’t have enough end product whilst Lewis Alessandra doesn’t impact the game at all and doesn’t make runs.
Players, Recruitment and Scouting
Player recruitment has been a big factor in Notts’ downfall over the last decade. We do don’t enough due diligence or analysation on players who we want to bring in. Especially in the summer of 2018 where we bought in the complete wrong type of player and we went away from what we were good at. In League Two, you need a bruiser in midfield who is not afraid to put a tackle in as well as pass. David Vaughan wasn’t that player. Other clubs bought in the likes of Neal Bishop and Harry Pell.
We wanted to play out from the back (even though we went away from something that was working) but didn’t bring in a ball playing centre-back. We didn’t strengthen the midfield or defence and we didn’t keep the leaders in the dressing room who were so important off the pitch in the 2017-18 season.
A big factor for the shambles that has happened this season and in previous years has been the lack of a recruitment structure or scouting network. You have got to be vigorous in your recruitment process and, you must scout the players that fit your system and style of play, thoroughly.
Scouts must be put in place to ensure you get the right type of players in and this must go further than just video analysis. You need scouts at games to watch the player and determine whether he is right for the team. Having scouts in place could mean scouting different parts of the country. Maybe have a couple in the south, a couple in the north, east and west etc. Have a few scouts go out and look at midfielders, another few at strikers, another few at defenders etc.
The different roles within a scouting system are pivotal and they all have to work well together. If one part of the chain is broken, it cannot work efficiently. The director of football must be organised and must be used to dealing with a big workload. The DOF has to oversee the whole scouting system and make sure it is working properly. They have to deal with certain representatives in football, including agents and lawyers.
Another role in a scouting network is a head of football operations. This is a very busy role, dealing with such things as: developing relationships with clubs (this can help bring players in on loan and can also go to the extent of getting Notts a feeder club), keeping an eye on players that have been loaned out or players that the club is looking to bring in on loan, highlighting players and of the manager and director of football and preparation for pre-season and where the best places to train and the finding the most adequate clubs to play against in friendlies. The head of football operations oversees the management and logistics side of the club.
A first team scout has to deal with representatives from clubs to get the information and on player targets, who the manager wants to sign. The first team scout must have an eye for a player and identifying talent. This applies to both senior and youth level.
Examining the type of player needed is crucial. A target man striker, a ball playing centre back, a deep lying playmaker in midfield, a direct winger, a poacher or a sweeper keeper can be some of the key roles that need filling in the squad. A scouting system can go a long way to making a football club successful and if put in place, can help Notts develop, improve and progress as a club and avoid the transfer window disasters of the past.
Part 3 - Training Ground and Facilities, and Youth Team coming Wednesday