Ahead of the start of the League Two season on Saturday, I talk to a Notts County fan and see how they will fare.
Tell us a bit about your season last season firstly. Would you say it was a success or failure? Did you achieve anything throughout the season, and were the fans happy with the end result?
Our season was much of a muchness nearly, we started well and were threatening the promotion places, then everything went wrong and we dipped before making it up again slightly at the end. Season will probably be remember best for our Carling Cup run, where we beat Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough and Southampton. The fans weren’t too pleased with the season, but the general consensus is this year is what they’ll be judged on.
Obviously every close season sees players leave. Who left your club and were you happy with the decision to let those players go by your boss?
Firstly we released a lot of players, all of whom failed to impress last season and there was a pretty resounding agreement with those decisions, Dan Martin the only contentious one but his fitness settled it. The first teamers released were the likes of Saul Deeney, Tcham N’Toya, Dan Martin, Alan White and Dan Gleeson, none of whom really impressed which is reflected by the fact only Martin and White have got deals in the football league. David Pipe then left to Bristol Rovers for an undisclosed fee (around £50k), which was a blow as he’s been consistently a top player for us, however with only a year left on his contract it was perhaps best to cash in.
So obviously, with players going out, some have got to come in. Who has come in for you, and do you expect them to do well? Tell us a bit about these lads?
We’ve been quite busy bringing players in, most of whom look very promising. We’ve brought in two new midfielders, Neil MacKenzie and Richard Butcher, who both have good records at this level, and MacKenzie featured a lot for L1 winners Scunthorpe last year. We’ve also added defenders Adam Tann and Paul Mayo, again one of whom impressed in the league above last season, young winger Myles Weston who made a huge impression when here on loan, and forwards Hector Sam and Spencer Weir-Daley, aswell as young ‘keeper Tim Sandercombe.
Who are going to be your star players this season then? Who`s going to get the goals, and who`s going to stop them?
Well last season’s player of the year Mike Edwards looked like he was going to be key until he broke his leg and dislocated his ankle in a pre-season match, which was gutting as he’s our captain and best player. Young centre back Steven Hunt, who excelled last season, will have to continue to improve to cover Eddie’s loss, whilst Neil MacKenzie has really impressed in pre-season. Myles Weston and Spencer Weir-Daley are both young players who could really come good, and I think Lawrie Dudfield will surprise a few people this year.
Season ticket sales help the club at the beginning of the season to stabilise the place and give it a bit of extra income. How many season tickets have your club shifted these season so far, and what do you expect the average attendance to be throughout the season?
Not really sure how many we’ve sold, the last ‘official’ update was in June sometime when we’d sold just over 2,000 and you’d have expected that to have grown somewhat, so we should have sold a good amount. The average attendance, obviously, depends on how we’re doing. If we’re no better than mid-table it will be around 4,500, but a successful season in and around the business end of the table could see it reach 6,000+
Tell us a bit about your gaffer and his backroom staff. Do the fans like the gaffer, or can you see him being out of a job after a run of bad results?
Our manager is Steve Thompson, who’s appointment last summer was met very angrily by fans, due to his lack of pedigree and disastrous former spell in charge. Threats of boycotts etc. were made, but a good start bought him sometime though the mid-season collapse put pressure on again. The fans expect play-offs at least this season, and anything less could put his job in jeopardy without a doubt, he’s still not exactly mr. popular.
This question is split into two. What do you BELIEVE your club can achieve this season, and what do you HOPE your club can achieve this season?
I believe my club can achieve play-offs without a doubt, and I suppose I hope we can aswell, but I still have that lingering doubt that Thompson will get things wrong and we’ll be marooned in mid-table again.
Finally, whom do you expect to win the division, who do you think will go up with them and who do you think will be relegated?
I think Rotherham will win the league, they’ve made some cracking signings and their defence particularly looks very strong. Otherwise I`d expect Shrewsbury, Darlington, Peterborough and Chesterfield to be in and around the top 3, whilst Accrington, Mansfield and Barnet will struggle.