“Picking our matchday squad is tougher than picking 5 + 2 stars on the Euro Lottery”
The match preview Q&A series continues, as Phil Tooley discusses ‘The Spireites’ of Chesterfield FC:
Hi Phil and happy Xmas to you. So how would you summarise Chesterfield’s season so far?
Disastrous! A first half of the season in three thirds! Chesterfield couldn’t buy a win in the first part of the season, playing in a 3-5-2 formation but a mid-September 1-0 win over, who was it? That’s right, Torquay seemed to banish the demons. Unfortunately, a 4-0 hammering at Sutton United a week later indicated all was not well, so a switch to 4-4-2 followed and 14 points were earned from the next seven games and supporters started to look up the table, not back over the shoulder. But since then, just one point from a possible 18 has set the alarm bells ringing louder than at any other time in the club’s long and proud history.
You remain in the relegation places, are you hopeful of avoiding the drop?
I’m an optimist, so of course I can see the drop being avoided. However, logic indicates that the group of players have consistently failed to live up to their collective abilities and the balance of the squad is not good enough to be able to step things up, whilst the manager remains totally unsure of his best eleven which makes any pragmatic forecaster say that the drop is highly likely. With an owner wanting out, nothing looks positively aligned.
How’s the team’s recent form been heading into Saturday’s game?
Think bad, then times that by ten and you’re still a mile away from Spireites’ recent form. Chorley looked world beaters, Hartlepool embarrassed us, winning 5-1 on our grass, Yeovil, without a win in five, got a 2-1 win that was as comfortable as any 2-1 win could be. No confidence, no direction, no hope at the moment.
Any highlights to report from the season so far?
Winning 3-1 at AFC Fylde with a good performance has been the only real highlight, our only win by a margin greater than one. The fact that our best performance of the season saw us surrender a 1-0 lead with less than quarter of an hour remaining to lose 2-1 at home to Bromley, shows we have precious little to reminisce over at the present time.
Has the team line-up changed much since we last met and who are the key players?
It changes every week! Seven changes for last week’s FA Trophy loss at home to Notts County, a consecutive matches each with six changes a week or two earlier! That said, the starting 11 in the Gulls game isn’t miles away from where we may be at the weekend, though keeper Luke Coddington picked up a season ending injury against Yeovil Town and Josef Yarney has been missing (hamstring) but could possibly be back in contention for the game. Picking our matchday squad is tougher than picking 5 + 2 stars on the Euro Lottery.
What’s your away following like and will you bring many down to Plainmoor?
Unless folks have booked a pre-Christmas long-weekend (like we have) very few will travel. Less than a hundred were at Aldershot Town recently so I suspect a similar two-digit following at Plainmoor. We’ve regularly reduced the lowest ever Proact Stadium crowd this season and the FA Trophy crowd last week was the club’s lowest competitive home crowd since the 1930’s in the never to be remembered Division Three North Trophy or something similarly exciting.
Any favourite (and printable!) away day chants for Chesterfield supporters?
Apparently we’re so bad it’s unbelievable! The people running the club are also quite often subjects of tuneful little ditties whilst there were chants of ‘OFF OFF OFF’ for our own player, Anthony Gerrard, when he picked up a booking a couple of games ago.
How does the boss like to set the team up and how do you think he’ll approach the game at Plainmoor?
He likes to set the team up in a way that baffles most Chesterfield supporters. It’s been 4-4-2 most frequently of late, but we’ve had diamonds and straights in the midfield four, our only right back is injured (Matt Tootle) whilst our main left back has played more games in central midfield with a central defender of late being at left back. Being unchanged just three times this season says more than I can convey in a couple of sentences.
Are you expecting incomings and outgoings in January to kick-start your season?
Difficult to predict as the owner wants to sell, so there may be no funding made available. No-one has shown any interest in taking any of our players, our budget has been stated as being in the ‘top three’ in the division and we’re not winning, so few are on other’s shopping lists, therefore it looks like we’ll have to go with what we’ve got.
Which opposition teams and players have impressed you most?
We’ve not played a team that’s impressed me, and that’s the sad thing! Hartlepool had nothing to beat when they tonked us and Barrow, impressive for 45 minutes and 2-0 up, caved in and we got a draw, so no great teams out there. Falkingham at Harrogate Town, Coulson at Barnet and King at FC Halifax Town are three midfielders I’d love in my team.
And finally we lost 1-0 to you in September, what do you think the score will be on Saturday?
Clean sheets are rarer than unicorns in our world, so Torquay will score, it’s just how many to decide. We have goals in the side but can’t defend so I’ll go for a 3-2 score-line but won’t specify which side gets which quantity of goals!
BACK IN 2013..
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