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Wow... the media has spring forth a rumour that Michael O'Connor won't be renewing his contract with Notts County, and all hell breaks loose on social media! There's a few 'camps' on this, from the "he's an ungrateful, disloyal, past-it, broken player, so let him go!" to the (I think, much more sensible), "he's a family man who is entitled to look after the best interests of his family!" I truly can't understand the former point of view; particularly since any player, under contract, (as he was) is fully entitled to receive treatment from his club (free-of-charge) and recuperation - however long it takes - is 'paid for', too! So, scarily, 'fans' saying he's being 'disloyal' by taking the money/moving on after his injury, are under a (legal) delusion, I'm afraid. I don't (and wouldn't) 'blame' anyone for a) looking for more wages being unhappy at offer of a pay-cut Contract or c) missing out on opportunity to work closer to my family home. I personally can wish him nothing but the best and a speedy "Bon Voyage", if nothing more than to stop all of the comments; fair or otherwise! Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
Notts County's season has finally come to an end, two weeks after the regular campaign was wrapped up. The fact we managed to extend the season by making the playoffs is obviously a sign that we have been heading in the right direction, and on the positive side it is nice to have been anxious about things in the top half of the table instead of the bottom like we had been for the previous four seasons. And of course, just the fact that we lost to Coventry City over two legs is no disgrace. After all, they are a big team with good players and a big fanbase, so had it just been a case of "Notts were just not as good", that isn't a big deal in itself. Let's face it, Notts have been punching above their weight for much of the season. An incredible first half of the season eventually petered out due to players running out of steam (namely up front), inconsistency (players putting in displays better than their general quality would muster, only to revert to type the following week), the odd failed tactical tinker (4-5-1) and making a pig's ear of the winter transfer window (Mason Bennett's signing was made in good faith and the player is quality but there is always going to be that risk in recruiting injury prone players). All that considered, being able to finish in the playoffs was a pretty fair assessment of our season, a team largely in transition and seeking consolidation after several traumatic years doing superbly well through a mere change in circumstances off the pitch (a good owner) and in the dugout (let's not forget that Kevin Nolan is a rookie in managing terms so he's only going to get better with experience, a prospect which is pretty exciting). However, let's look at what happened over the two legs against Coventry. The first leg should have ended 1-0 to us. Their penalty late on should not have been given, pure and simple. Had the refereeing been adequate, Coventry would have gone into the second leg a goal down and there could have been a different game altogether. But okay, let's say we led and we still got an awful first half in which we conceded early on and again midway through, as per what happened yesterday. Jorge Grant's goal would have levelled the tie and Jonathan Forte's goal - which was onside - would have put us back in front. The momentum in both the game and the tie would have been with Notts, while Coventry would have been panicking, and who knows what could have happened. Would Maxime Biamou have scored his second? Even if he did, would Notts heads have dropped as they did, knowing they were still in the tie? Football is a very emotional and psychological game. One goal, or sending off, will completely change the heads of both sets of players as well as those of the fans, with a ripple effect. And likewise, having a goal chalked off, or an illegitimate goal being awarded, has a similar effect - witness England's capitulation in 2010 against Germany when Frank Lampard's goal so flagrantly crossed the line and wasn't given - subconsciously, the England players could have been thinking "we've been screwed out of a perfectly good goal - what's the point of carrying on?". The truth is, the football fandom has become desensitised to awful refereeing decisions, so when a team gets screwed over in the big moments, it's usually self-justified as "oh well, these will even out over the course of a season" or "yeah but we weren't good enough overall". Sorry, that's not good enough. The bottom line of the game is to outscore your opponent, and goals are hard to come by in football (compared to, say a rugby or basketball game) so each one needs the utmost scrutiny in accordance with the laws of the game. If we're operating on whatever laws the referee conjures up at any given moment, you're not getting a proper game of football. And sure, you can justify it to yourself with excuses as a coping mechanism, but the cold hard truth is, we've been cheated. Not necessarily deliberately, but even through incompetence, we have been cheated out of what could have been a completely different outcome had the rules of the game been adhered to as, you know, they are supposed to be. That's fine though, whatever. We'll justify it as "the will of the footballing gods", we'll channel our anger towards the players for being bad on the day / during the season, we'll wonder what could have been, and we'll go again next season slumming it at the likes of Morecambe and Forest Green. It's entertainment at the end of the day, isn't it? Shame football is more pantomime than Hollywood movie these days. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Pride of Nottingham by signing up to the website, visiting the forum and joining in the chat with hundreds of fellow Notts County fans. Fancy showcasing your brand or business on Pride of Nottingham? Click here to find out more about sponsorship and advertising opportunities with us.
I know I'm not the only Notts County fan who feels deflated following the last couple of months at Meadow Lane, seeing a side that, following full time in the New Year's Day win over Port Vale, was second in League Two - four points behind then leaders Luton Town and seven clear of fourth - now in fifth, seven adrift of the top three and just four above eighth. We've seen Notts put in superb performances this season and also grind out results, and it was superb to see - and obviously expectations rose as the prospect of automatic promotion, or perhaps the title, was a real possibility, and so having such hopes dashed is painful. However, this is where perspective and hindsight come into play. The bulk of the team this season is the same as that of last season - in 2016-17 Notts were punching below their weight for the first half, before Alan Hardy and Kevin Nolan arrived and lifted each of the players to punch above their weight, and indeed safety was ensured before the final day. This time round, the players got off to a flying start in the league (aside from the Coventry opener) and soon enough we were topping the table, and as the weeks went on, the Magpies continued to impress - still very much punching above their weight. But an EFL campaign is very much a marathon, and as it turned out, Notts might have led the pack early on, but the rigours of the 46-game season, plus all the other cup competitions, will take their toll on the players physically and mentally. From a transfer perspective, January didn't go to plan - losing Ryan Yates was a huge blow and I don't feel we've fully recovered from it; Mason Bennett was good but injury prone and unfortunately he got sidelined in his first full game; Matty Virtue has been sub-par, while Liam Noble and Noor Husin have been decent but not superb - and certainly not . I think only Ben Hall has been a legitimately great signing. Alongside losing Yates, the Bennett loan was also a massive blow, given how Shola Ameobi and Jon Stead could now not get their rest, and indeed they have completely run out of steam. But calling for Kevin Nolan to be sacked, as some people have been doing, is very much a joke, except for the fact they seem to be serious. Yes, Notts have all but fluffed automatic promotion; yes, Notts are in poor form and face a battle just to stay in the playoffs; yes, I'm not especially confident that they could succeed if they do finish in the playoffs. But would I have taken worrying in the top seven of the table rather than the bottom two? Absolutely. Do I think Nolan and Hardy will be wiser come the end of the season, whether we get promoted or not? Yes. And do I think both of them, plus the better players in the squad, would remain at ML and a summer of good recruitment could see Notts build on and have a team that could genuinely fight for promotion next season? Yes, I do. Pep Guardiola didn't meet expectations last season at Manchester City, finishing without a trophy. Sir Alex Ferguson wasn't much cop in his first few seasons at Manchester United. But they were afforded time, in spite of some braying fans calling for them to be sacked, and they went on to greatness. Nolan is a young manager and has a lot to learn - same as Hardy in terms of owning a football club. And it's not like we're fighting for our EFL life, like we were last season - worst comes to worst, we spend next season in League Two, we can add a few more pieces to the jigsaw, and we go again. All I know is, anyone calling for Nolan to be sacked is outright deluded - remember what happened with Keith Curle a few seasons ago? Gunning for promotion into the Championship, yet even that didn't seem good enough for some, and now what most of us wouldn't give to be there now. So be careful what you wish for, because as disappointing as things may seem now, they could be much, much worse. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
As the world’s oldest Football League club, Notts County Football Club really do have an unrivalled history. It’s a fascinating story of great names and good times, dark days and disappointments – and it deserves to be told to and by more people of all ages. This is why Notts County Football in the Community have launched the Heritage Project. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this important scoping project will develop recommendations to secure the heritage of Notts County for the enjoyment and education of present and future generations. As the oldest football league club in the world, founded in 1862, the club has a rich history, and recent induction into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame further cemented the importance of the club in the history of world football. At present, however, there is no formal programme to manage the physical and other heritage assets connected to Notts, and much of this heritage is not owned or managed by the club, but is in the care of many organisations and individuals that have an interest in the Magpies. The project seeks to answer several important questions: - What historic material does the club own? - What heritage items related to the club do other people and organisations have? - How could the club's heritage be better protected and shared, so more people can enjoy it? To go a long way towards answering these questions, FITC wants YOUR help! FITC is keen to hear from you about: - Your Notts County collection: For example, you might have a collection of match programmes, replica kit, fanzines, scrapbooks, t-shirts, former players’ shirts or boots .... in fact, anything to do with Notts County! And if you’re interested, FITC will happy to give you some free, expert advice about how you might keep your collection so that it lasts as long as possible – and/or put you in touch with other collectors of Notts County heritage items. - Your ideas about how the history of Notts County could be told and shared: For instance, would you like more information and displays around the ground, more on the club website, or events for collectors of NCFC memorabilia? Any ideas are welcome – particularly those that involve supporters and give them the chance to share their stories and memories. Here is how to get in touch: - Start the conversation by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. - If you put ‘Notts County collection’ in the subject line, FITC will send you a simple form that you can use to tell them more about what you have, and what help you might need. - Use this email address to send FITC any suggestions about how the history of Notts County could be shared and told. All ideas are welcome, and they will be happy to discuss them with you. - If you would like to receive an occasional e-newsletter about this project, just send FITC an email with ‘Heritage Newsletter’ in the subject line and your name in the message area. Let's all join in and make Notts County Football Club stand out further in the annals of football history - after all, are we not the Pride of Nottingham? The Heritage Project is in partnership with Nottingham City Council, the EFL Trust, the Professional Footballers' Association, the Premier League and MacMillan Cancer Support. Share your thoughts about the Heritage Project on Pride of Nottingham by signing up to the website, visiting the forum and joining in the chat with hundreds of fellow Notts County fans. Fancy showcasing your brand or business on Pride of Nottingham? Click here to find out more about sponsorship and advertising opportunities with us.
So the big match is upon us. Notts County against Mansfield Town. And you know what, I’m sick of losing to these lot. It really is getting annoying. It’s fair to say our record against Mansfield really isn’t the best. This century, in the league, we’ve played them 14 times, winning once, drawing five and losing eight times. Notts haven’t beaten Mansfield in the league since September 2005, a 3-2 win at Field Mill with a late winner courtesy of Glynn Hurst. However, after seven years apart in different divisions, both of these two returned to playing each other in 2015-16. It was not a good season for Notts. The first home game of the season saw us lose the Nottinghamshire derby 2-0. However, it’s the reverse fixture that makes the headlines for all the wrong reasons for Notts. A 5-0 defeat. A defeat, which summed up the Ray Trew era. A lack of fight, effort and passion. Notts were 1-0 down at half time and in the second half went to 3-5-2 and went for it in hope of getting back into the game. Sadly, it didn’t work and once the second went in, Notts gave up. A lot changed that summer. Players, manager, board members. Notts returned to Field Mill on October 8th and lost again. A 3-1 defeat in a game, which I summed up as being an absolute joke. John Sheridan said it how it was ‘we lost to two deflections and a penalty.’ A lot of things still annoy me about that game. We should have been 3-0 up at half time. Jonathan Forte missed a one-on-one chance, Jon Stead hit the post, and also had another good chance. Alex Rodman equalised in the 82nd minute but I knew something controversial was coming. You could just sense it. It was. Mansfield were awarded a penalty in the 90th minute for what most would call ‘a 50-50’ but Matt Tootle took so long to clear the ball. They scored a 3rd in the 93rd minute as well. In the reverse fixture on January 14th, Notts halted a run of 10 successive losses in Kevin Nolan’s first game in charge, with the game finishing 0-0. Mansfield were in good form coming into that game but Notts held firm. = In fairness, nothing much really happened in that game. Ben Whiteman came close to scoring with a deflected effort, which was well saved by Adam Collin. Michael O’Connor came close for Notts in the second half. In the 90th minute, a shot by Mansfield was saved by Collin and cleared by Carl Dickinson in a moment where my heart skipped a beat. The 3-1 defeat earlier this season again showed a lack of fight in which we crumbled under the pressure. Stead missed an easy chance from close range and Danny Rose starred as Mansfield ran out winners yet again. Form coming into this game has never been important. The four games in which Notts have lost against them, they have had the better form coming into each one. The 0-0 draw in January was the only time in which Mansfield had the better form coming into the derby. There is a slight theory behind this game too, as every time there has been a Tuesday night fixture preceding the derby, Mansfield have won. 2015/16 (0-2) Huddersfield 1-2 Notts, Sheff Wed 4-1 Mansfield – Notts lost the derby 2015/16 (5-0) Notts 1-0 Hartlepool - Notts lost the derby 2016/17 (3-1) Rochdale 2-1 Notts, Port Vale 0-1 Mansfield - Notts lost the derby 2017/18 (3-1) Exeter 0-3 Notts, Cheltenham 3-0 Mansfield - Notts lost the derby Notts have looked brilliant recently and I have the feeling this could the game in which we end the derby curse. Richard Duffy has said about how the players had a talk during the rot they were going through on how to turn it around. He also said they are now doing what they were doing when they were doing at the start of the season. I’ve also had friends who are Mansfield fans messaging me saying that the style of play since David Flitcroft came in has got worse. Danny Rose and Alex MacDonald have been two players who played well under Steve Evans but haven’t done so far under Flitcroft. This game is also massive for the promotion race. A Notts win and promotion is in their own hands with 8 games to go. A Mansfield win and they are right back in it with a game in hand. A draw is no good for either team and only hands the advantage to Wycombe and a recently resurgent Coventry. Notts must win to retain their advantage in the promotion race and finally end our awful record in this fixture. A last word to the fans. We cannot be outsung like last time. Players thrive off the support and it could make all the difference come Saturday. We cannot be outsung. Share your thoughts about this opinion article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
We're edging towards the end of February and Notts County's forward problems continue following the backfiring of our January gamble. Bringing Mason Bennett in on loan seemed a great idea at the time, given he's a highly rated and clearly talented footballer, very much admired by most fans of his parent club Derby. Unfortunately, Bennett is also injury prone, something which plenty of Rams fans I spoke to mentioned in sighing tones - were it not for his injury issues, he would probably be an established first-team despite his young age. And he showed his quality on his Notts debut against Crewe, getting the final goal in a superb 4-1 win, but then, the harsh reality of his injury record kicked in as he had to be taken off early on against Barnet with a hamstring problem, on which he has needed an operation. It's a bad situation for all three parties - Bennett is injured and must now go through the healing and rehabilitation process, Derby will be gutted to see one of their most talented youngsters suffer another setback, and Notts are back to square one in terms of their striker conundrum. So we have Shola Ameobi and Jon Stead, who simply haven't got the legs to do 90 minutes week in week out (sometimes twice a week); Jonathan Forte, who remains overlooked by Nolan and, if we're being especially critical, hasn't had the same impact as a starter as he does off the bench; Lewis Alessandra, who hasn't got the quality in front of goal and finishing touch of a centre-forward; Callum Saunders, who is too raw and inexperienced to be thrown in at the deep end now; and Alan Smith, the footballing equivalent of using a plaster to fix an amputation. With the transfer window now closed and the emergency loan system very kindly phased out by the suits up top, that leaves us having to root through the dumpster that is the free agent market in order to find somebody. Maybe that's a little harsh - after all, Shola Ameobi was snapped up last February after the transfer window closed, but Ameobi has always been a model professional who was unsure whether to hang up his boots until former teammate Nolan persuaded him to link up with Notts, and his attitude at the club has been superb ever since signing on the dotted line. This year, the free agent market is noticeably less impressive, and a name that Nolan has mentioned in terms of prospective signings should ring alarm bells among all the fans. Nile Ranger. The talented, prodigious forward who could now be leading the line for Newcastle United, and perhaps England, but who instead finds himself without a club after being dismissed by Southend United due to "reoccurring disciplinary issues". Now, I'm very much one who believes in second chances in any walk of life, and if an individual is genuinely remorseful and shows proper contrition, they should be given another shot instead of being thrown onto the scrap heap, which as a society we are quick to do. Ranger has been given numerous chances by clubs in hope that he could have knuckled down and delivered as per his talent, but every time, it's simply not happened, hence why a player who should be gracing the higher leagues now finds himself without a club. Even if we discount the multiple charges he's had over the last 10 years, some of which have resulted in convictions (the latest just last year for online banking fraud, which resulted in him being tagged and not being able to play evening games due to a curfew), there's also the general attitude issues. Do Notts really want a player who has celebrated a goal by using his boot to mimic a machine gun, or whose timekeeping and disciplinary issues led to his latest club cancelling a contract midway through the season despite having committed to 2020 just a year earlier? And yes, Alan Hardy did confirm on Twitter today that Ranger "was on a list, along with several others, but none of those are being pursued", which seemingly puts paid to that speculation, but let's not forget how Liam Noble wasn't "being pursued" either. So no. Personally I would not like to see Ranger signed by Notts, where he could risk disrupting the dressing room and potentially making the wrong headlines, which by proxy means Notts will make the wrong headlines, before an unceremonious mid-season cutting of ties further down the line. And aside from that, there's got to be a level of principle in the club. And I would personally rather see Notts not get a reinforcement and run the risk of not getting promoted than giving a chance to a player who's spurned far too many over the years. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Pride of Nottingham by signing up to the website, visiting the forum and joining in the chat with hundreds of fellow Notts County fans. Fancy showcasing your brand or business on Pride of Nottingham? Click here to find out more about sponsorship and advertising opportunities with us.
So after what seemed like a good Christmas period, it seems that Notts County have gone into switch off mode ever since. We set off the year with a positive result against Port Vale winning 1-0 at home. We then went on to proceed to the 4th round of the FA Cup against Swansea City after a sublime strike from Jon Stead against Brentford put us into the pot for the next round. With morale seeming to be at an all time high at Meadow Lane and coming into the new year with bags of confidence, it didn’t seem like anything could stop Notts. So where did it start to go wrong? Well, we ended our unbeaten home record against Exeter City who quite frankly couldn’t buy an away win at the time of beating us. That put a real gloom over Meadow Lane and I think it hit the players hard that we are still beatable at home and we should not let standards drop. However that message clearly didn’t get through. Outrageous behaviour from Ross Fitzsimons 3 days later, to put it straight, cost us two points. Crawley were a good side in form and having a point from that match looked like a good result. So after 2 consecutive defeats at Meadow Lane and sickness from Matt Tootle I think the players and manager were knocked down a few pegs. We then won 4-1 in front of a record home crowd against Crewe Alexandra, which was such a positive performance I think everyone left that game with a smile on their faces. Then... an embarrassing display of football saw us lose 8-1 to Swansea and then lose to Barnet who are bottom of the league 1-0. This was the confirmation fans needed to know that County were officially in a slump. Although Tuesday brought about a 2-1 win over Carlisle United, the performance nonetheless left question marks and doubts remain going forward. How do we fix it? So our next 3 fixtures are as follows: Newport County vs Notts County Cambridge United vs Notts County Notts County vs Stevenage So out of these next three games, if we are still serious about promotion we need to be looking at 6 points out of a possible 9. In my opinion we should be looking at wins across the board, excluding Newport which look a real unit at the moment, especially at home. Cambridge are currently without a manager and by the time we play them I think it will still take time for their players and manager to gel. As for Stevenage, well they are a bang average mid-table team. We need to pick up points now, as we enter a vital period for a promotion push. Who can we rely on? This is bound to spark a debate in the comments but this is my personal opinion of who I think is going to be crucial in the run up the end of the season. Mason Bennett – I know he got injured at Barnet but I would hope we could see him back fit for the start of March even for the Stevenage game if we’re lucky. His pace is frightening for League Two defenders top cope with and I think him and Jorge Grant could be a real threat and kill off games early which is what we need to do. Matt Tootle – He can defend and attack and can always mark a striker with pace. He puts in 100% effort and can really change a game and flip it on its head. His quality in defence in attack can help link up play in areas we could maybe use to our advantage. Noor Husin – Well this lad is superb, his passing ability is amazing in my opinion and his work rate is fantastic. I think Husin, Grant and Bennett could really work well together and for a young prospect he has some real talent and could possibly go on to be a class midfielder. His cutting edge passes and long shots could be something Nolan looks to take advantage of. After being away from the site for a while due to work I am keen to get back in touch with PON members and create more content to get a response from fans and see what they think. The question I want to ask you PON members is, Who do you think can turn this slump around? Let me know in the comments below and I hope to be writing another piece soon. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Pride of Nottingham by signing up to the website, visiting the forum and joining in the chat with hundreds of fellow Notts County fans. Fancy showcasing your brand or business on Pride of Nottingham? Click here to find out more about sponsorship and advertising opportunities with us.
Was Saturday the day when the wheel finally fell off the wheelbarrow? Notts County have suffered from wobbly form for a number of weeks now, and despite last week's impressive 4-1 win against Crewe Alexandra - a side which many of their own fans think is in major disarray and worry about its prospects of staying up - there have been far too many indifferent performances and bad results in the league in recent weeks. Take the back-to-back home defeats against Exeter City and Crawley Town, games when the formation was inexplicably changed to 4-5-1. The first game, you could understand a desire to conserve the forwards' energy but after things panned out as badly as they did, surely it should have been changed back in the following game. Admittedly, January brought a superb run in the FA Cup, and beating Brentford and holding Swansea City to a draw at Meadow Lane showed how Notts can play when they're firing on all cylinders. And as embarrassing as the 8-1 defeat to Swansea was, you could cut the players some slack in that they were maybe overawed by the occasion, or having an off day, and the Swans are certainly a different beast under Carlos Carvalhal - although once again the 4-5-1 formation clearly didn't work for the Magpies. But this weekend, losing 1-0 to Barnet is a very tough result to take. After the horror show at the Liberty Stadium, a game against the league's bottom side should have presented the perfect opportunity to build on the win over Crewe. Instead, we failed to match a team down on their luck, failed to create our own luck and were caught out by a route one lump up top late in the game, the kind of attacking foray that any professional back line worth their salt should be able to defend against all day. As great as Elliott Hewitt has been in recent weeks, his absence due to illness shouldn't be affecting the team that badly, given the other more than capable players we have in midfield. It's a huge shame that the work put in by the club during the first half of the season appears in real danger, but even though the players must shoulder responsibility, it's time that Kevin Nolan acknowledges that, as good as his tenure was during 2017, he has made numerous mistakes over the last few weeks which seem to have caught up with him and the team. Needlessly changing a system that was working fine took us backwards and ramped the pressure up on the team, with the comfortable cushion in the top three now gone. The constant hoofing of the ball when it should be played on the ground has also been a recurring theme. It's also interesting how Nolan was more than eager to take the plaudits when things are going good, but with this defeat it's all the players' fault. Where is the "camaraderie" that he spoke of during the ups? Now it's "they weren't listening" and "backchat". We go again on Tuesday night with Carlisle United coming to Meadow Lane, and the next five fixtures read Newport away, Cambridge away, Stevenage at home, Cheltenham away and Forest Green away. Out of all of these, the highest in the league is Newport in 12th. All these fixtures should be able to yield results for Notts, should they play at the top of their game. But it's important that the Magpies can get back to basics, play the ball on the ground, make the right team selections and play in the right formation. A lot of damage has been done in the last few weeks in the league but now is the time for manager and players to step up to the plate and return to form. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Pride of Nottingham by signing up to the website, visiting the forum and joining in the chat with hundreds of fellow Notts County fans. Fancy showcasing your brand or business on Pride of Nottingham? Click here to find out more about sponsorship and advertising opportunities with us.
I realise that the deadline day signings have split fans' opinions, we can debate how good they appear on paper or discuss their careers so far, but the important part is to welcome any new signing into the club and hope that they can help us. Notts have fought hard this season and we have seen such a huge turnaround that even now I find it hard to believe. The club right now is experiencing a fresh start and we now have the right kind of foundations in place. Success on the pitch is often measured in quality, but also desire and I think our club has the right type of balance – although I do openly admit I had hoped for a permanent striker to sign. This said, I feel in League Two Mason Bennett does offer us something which we don’t really have and that his pace could be the thing which ignites us on the pitch - as a signing he should naturally take the burden off the midfield to score goals. It’s also important after Exeter City’s midweek win that we get back on track ourselves, as I feel the wheelbarrow doesn’t need to break just yet – this is more optimism and hope mind. Crewe Alexandra are the perfect team for us to be playing right now, especially since the great performance we put in against Swansea City in the FA Cup. That said, we need to match that performance and even attempt to outplay it. The Alex won’t be an easy pushover despite their league position, not at all and I think the fact that they play some decent ground football should test Notts. Yet their poor form is also a beneficial factor for us, as we could go into the game respectful yet be confident at the same time. On paper people will naturally think it should be easy, yet football is never straightforward and, as Notts fans, we only know too well what it’s like playing an underperforming side. The 2017-18 squad is completely different compared to previous squads and I feel they will want to see the success continue – I certainly believe they will show a lot of character as we fight for our finishing place. There’s just that underlining question of formation and, I hope after Kevin Nolan’s seen how useful it is – reverting back to it against Swansea, that he will see it makes sense to continue using 4-4-2 within the league. We would be stronger, much stronger sticking with a formation that we know inside-and-out. I fully expect Nolan to choose 4-4-2, I think he will see that the two league defeats weren’t down to much else – yet with the inclusions of our new signings, we should be stronger up top and at the back. Notts really need to put a convincing showing on Saturday, we need to forget about the attendance and just rise to the task of getting back on track. The amount of fans or potential fans shouldn’t be daunting and, if we get behind the lads – singing them on. With the Kop fully behind the game, I feel we will find our form – it’s time to start believing! COYP!! Share your thoughts about this feature article on Pride of Nottingham by signing up to the website, visiting the forum and joining in the chat with hundreds of fellow Notts County fans. Fancy showcasing your brand or business on Pride of Nottingham? Click here to find out more about sponsorship and advertising opportunities with us.
Why have we changed formation? If someone could tell me why, it would be great. But why? Why have we done this? In the last two recent games, Kevin Nolan has experimented a bit and changed to a new formation, switching from 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1 with three central midfielders including Noor Husin, Matty Virtue and Liam Noble. This means Jon Stead is up front on his own with Jorge Grant and Lewis Alessandra on the wings. However, this recent change hasn’t worked as shown by successive 2-1 losses at home to Exeter and Crawley. Notts’ amazing home record has been worsened by this change in formation and the results that have followed. By all means, this formation can work if you have the right players but this Notts team doesn’t. First you need to have a pacey striker up front - Aguero for Man City for example and Conor Chaplin at Portsmouth. Notts cannot play this formation with Jon Stead up front. He is too slow and too isolated. We have next to no threat up top when we play one striker. Defenders are quick to get the ball off him before he ever has a chance to bring the wingers into play. Next, you need to have a good attacking midfielder to play behind the striker. Someone like Luke Berry. Notts have this in Liam Noble but refuse him to play instead placing Matty Virtue into the role of the No.10 when we can clearly see that he has the same properties of Ryan Yates. We have rushed three new midfielders into the side who have not played with each other before and if we continue to play this formation, they will have to have time to gel. You can’t take that risk in a promotion race especially when Notts have only taken 26 points from their last 19 games. Notts have dropped so many points, that the gap to 4th is now minimal. In both games, when we reverted back to 4-4-2, we immediately looked more of a threat going forward. Virtue showed in the short time he had in the 4-4-2 formation against Crawley and his performance at Lincoln, that he can easily slot into Yates’ role. Just because of Yates’ recall, doesn’t mean we have to introduce a whole new system. It really isn’t needed. You have got to play Hewitt alongside him in midfield because he is the legs of the team. Even when Notts are out on their feet, Hewitt is still running around causing the opposition problems. He doesn’t stop running. These two in a 4-4-2 formation would be fine. Noor Husin looked a lot better suited to our normal formation at the weekend. He became the man pulling the strings when we went 4-4-2 against Exeter, only for him to be replaced. I would like to see Liam Walker start a few games because every time he has come off the bench, he has been quality. We have abandoned tactics that have worked so well for us all season. Why abandon them now? It makes no sense whatsoever. 4-4-2 gave us structure and stability. It gave us a Notts side that scored goals and gave us a Notts side that stood in second place. A striker, a centre back and a backup winger was all that was (and still is) needed and Notts would have been fine. But no, this is Notts and we love to bottle every good opportunity that comes our way. I salute Charlie Slater for his questioning of Nolan’s tactics last night on the radio. I love Nolan for what he has done for this football club so far but we’ve got to go back to basics otherwise we won’t even finish in the play-offs, never mind the automatic promotion places. I am begging that Nolan returns to the formation and the tactics that bought us so much success all season. Look at Brentford. We played 4-4-2 and beat a Championship team. A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM. Seriously, we have got to go back to 4-4-2 otherwise we can kiss goodbye to promotion. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Pride of Nottingham by signing up to the website, visiting the forum and joining in the chat with hundreds of fellow Notts County fans. Fancy showcasing your brand or business on Pride of Nottingham? Click here to find out more about sponsorship and advertising opportunities with us.