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Joe Jones
Joe Jones

Why it helps Notts County to have former Newcastle United and Manchester United players in the ranks

A couple of years ago, Notts County boasted a number of former Manchester United players in Alan Smith, Roy Carroll and Kevin Pilkington. Of those, only Smith is still at Meadow Lane, which has morphed into a bit of a "Newcastle United Old Boys Club" now.

Smith also played at St James' Park, while Kevin Nolan and Shola Ameobi also donned the "other" black and white stripes up on Tyneside.

Having former Premier League players, individuals whose careers continue to be held in high esteem, at Notts is a huge boost on three fronts - on the pitch, off the pitch, and in the marketing department.

(And of course I can't omit Jon Stead from this, even though he's not a former Newcastle man - in fact he played for bitter rivals Sunderland - but he's also a distinguished former PL player with an illustrious career.)

On the pitch, the former PL players can read the game fantastically, what with experience gained against playing for and against some of the top sides in England and some of the top players in the world.

There is also the psychological boost of having players that have played at the top level that the opposition players will have grown up watching and, although some can step up their game accordingly, others will feel intimidated or perhaps even a bit starstruck.

Off the pitch, these players will be a font of knowledge from their years at the top and, alongside ensuring that standards are as high as they can be, will also have a sharp and refined tactical awareness - and of course they can coach their teammates accordingly, as they will be learning from the best.

And the final point, that of marketing, has always been quite important but never so much as the present day, when the explosion of social media ensures that millions, even billions, of people can discover and discuss the latest football information at the touch of a button.

In this respect, having former Premier League players will generate interest from far beyond the NG postcode and even beyond Britain - the likes of Smith, Nolan, Ameobi and Stead will have fans from Man United, Newcastle, West Ham, Bolton, Blackburn and other big clubs eager to find out more about how they're doing at Notts.

When Notts were drawn against Salford in the FA Cup, the game made it on terrestrial largely because of the narrative pitting the side owned by several players of the Class of 92 against a club boasting United alumni. By having an interesting back story, it generates interest and as such will be given the spotlight.

Similarly, the club has featured a lot in the national press in recent months, with Nolan on Sky Sports and BBC Sport, Stead doing an interview in the Daily Mail and so on.

Obviously the club has done a lot of media-worthy things for itself - the changing rooms for example - but that star element has elevated the club above a lot of other lower-league clubs in the media.

In conclusion, the presence of players and coaches that once graced the Premier League has given Notts a massive boost on multiple fronts and, combined with the shrewd ownership and management of Alan Hardy, it's led to the club going upwards both in League Two and in the media spotlight.

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