TRCH

Left Magpie: Dracula has a Better Record Against Crosses...

26 January 19 words: Colin Sisson

Kübler-Ross may sound like the type of enigmatic signing Notts need to pull themselves out of the bleakness that has befallen the season, but its presence at Meadow Lane is almost as significant.

 

To understand what it is like to be a Notts fan in 2019, you have to accept that you are living through one of the five stages of grief identified by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ 1969 model.

For the most part, it’s been denial. The absurd possibility that this squad, assembled at such expense and seemingly addressing the shortfalls of last season’s side, could fail so spectacularly in its objective that it would languish at the foot of League Two for very long, was practically unthinkable. Sure, we tweaked and twiddled with systems and staff, swapping Nolan for Kewell for Ardley, but all while living in the false hope that a change of fortune was just around the corner. Sadly it seems that all this change has had the same impact as rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

On the subject of disasters, Boxing Day’s fixture against Macclesfield was the distress signal that saw my dogged denial stage swiftly turn to anger. When a Notts side, then sat 23rd, play 24th at home and capitulate so pathetically in front of their own, desperate fans it fully justifies the chorus of boos that filled a less-than-festive Meadow Lane. Even after Notts had clawed themselves back from Scott Wilson’s opener, they lacked any evidence of desire and determination to avoid defeat. So it was inevitable that Wilson would wander unchallenged through Notts’ defence and, not only destine them to the foot of the Football League, but destroy my faith in their potential to ever pull themselves out of it.

If I was angry on Boxing Day, I was cataclysmic with the visit of Cambridge in January. Particularly after 15,000 fans found the heady mix of moral strength and mindless optimism, irrespective of reduced entry, to put themselves through another lacklustre home performance that saw just one shot on target as reward. One.

For me, these two matches were all that I needed to know about the current squad. That despite serious investment, some staggering wages and facilities well-above our fourth tier status, we’d inherited probably the most fragile, and possibly most unlikeable, side I’d ever seen. And if this seems unfair, just watch Yeovil’s opener and see a static Notts defence concede what feels like the 650th goal from a mundane cross. Dracula has a better record against crosses than this Notts side.

As I transition into the bargaining stage, I can only hope that Notts’ own bargaining in the January transfer window can bolster a squad lacking a robust spine - both metaphorically and tactically, as Notts require new, determined additions through the centre of the pitch to become competitive. This is particularly evident up front where, despite half a million pounds of investment, we lack any sort of physical presence capable of keeping the ball in the final third and getting these expensive and misfiring acquisitions into anything like a dangerous position. Other than 24th in the Football League.

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