Notts County 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.
Training ground and facilities
In modern day football, the principle of the training ground is getting more important. A training ground along with facilities such as 3G pitches, indoor and outdoor pitches, a gym, a spa and media centres, attracts players and makes the club a more attractive proposition for players and coaches. This can filter down from senior to youth.
Notts have previously trained on a park and at Basford United where the use of a 3G pitch as a first-choice training ground has left Notts’ squad with frequent injuries. The use of a 3G pitch as a first-choice training pitch can be risky and increases the level of injury of the playing squad due to the players being unfamiliar with the surface, as they usually play on grass.
When it comes to matchday, it can be difficult to replicate something put into practice on a 3G pitch, on a grass pitch due to the different surfaces.
A training ground can help with a squad’s fitness and this is a big importance if you want to play a passing style of play which requires a lot of running and movement.
It can also help in the development of players and modern facilities at Notts could help bring out the best in the players and will aid their skill and ability.
It is becoming more and more easier for top clubs to sign young prospects from lower league teams. In August, Notts lost Dongda He to Wolves for a small fee due to EPPP. It was made easier for Wolves, due to the fact that He didn’t have a pro contract with Notts. It was because of this that Notts quickly signed up their youth team prospects to professional contracts. The issue with this was, that it made an already bloated squad even bigger and because the first team was so big, it became more expensive to run.
To avoid this happening, we’d have one of two options. To bring the academy status up to a good enough standard or to reduce the age groups in the academy to under 16 and over. The former would not be viable for Notts as it would mean spending excessively on upgrading the academy. Money that Notts don’t have in their current situation. That leaves the latter as the better option of the two.
Starting at under 16 level would be better as that is the age in which clubs have to make decisions regarding scholarships. This would also mean the if clubs further up the football pyramid came calling, they would have to pay a bigger fee for the player, benefitting Notts. If Notts kept their current age groups in the youth academy, they could lose players who have been developed for several years, for a small fee.
Having these select groups from U16 upwards would also mean that the club can pick more specific needs for the first time. For example, if they are without a ball playing centre-back or a technical midfielder.
Recruiting players for the academy can be made easier by taking players from clubs around Notts that are higher in the league system such as Nottingham Forest, Derby County, Leicester City, Aston Villa and Birmingham City. These players would have had the input from a good quality academy and bringing them to Notts would benefit the club hugely.
Brentford gave up their academy and instead developed a Brentford B team. They scout internationally and bring in young players from abroad as well as from the UK. They scout internationally due to the fact that, scouting the lower leagues of English football for players means that clubs higher in the football pyramid can lure players with their lofty budgets and state of the art facilities and training complexes.