Spireites blog: Chesterfield FC must avoid becoming another Leyton Orient

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It would be fair to say that the Spireites were massive overachievers last year, and to earn a place in the top six alongside the biggest clubs in the division was an excellent effort.

I was fortunate to speak to Paul Cook early on in the season and his intentions were clear from the outset.

He explained that our targets for the season were different at 5pm after the first game of the season.

An impressive away win at Leyton Orient changed the pre-season objective of avoiding relegation.

There was an air of confidence around the club, its players and its loyal fan base throughout the season.

Whilst the Spireites came up short over two legs against an experienced and clinical Preston side, nobody could be filled with anything other than pride during the 2014/15 campaign.

This year though, the Blues must at all costs avoid being the Leyton Orient of the 2015/16 season, after the Spireites opening day opponents went from the play-offs to being relegated in the space of 12 months.

To prevent this and to continue to be competitive at this level, there are plenty of issues that need addressing over the coming months.

From the outset, there is a lot that could concern the diehard Chesterfield fan.

Paul Cook was clearly an ambitious manager that wanted the best for the club, but it is being suggested that he had known about interest from Portsmouth as early as February.

Whilst I thank Paul for his efforts, no one man is bigger than the club, though I do view recent events with an element of alarm.

I find it worrying that a League One side who have had two promotions and two JPT finals in the past four years have been priced out of a manager by a side hit with crippling financial problems and have been on a largely downwards trajectory since their FA Cup final victory in 2008.

Additionally, Leam Richardson, Eric Nixon, Kevin Lynch and Shane Nicholson have all left the club and each played their own part in the club’s success as aides to Paul Cook.

Nicholson in particular has been excellent for the club, both in his playing days and in his role as a fitness coach.

You need only look on social media at the messages he received from fans, as well as current and past players after his departure was announced, to notice the high regard in which he was held.

Losing a member of staff of that magnitude cannot help but upset the atmosphere within a club.

All this is before mentioning the interest shown in our playing staff. Gary Roberts, Sam Clucas, Jimmy Ryan, Sam Morsy, Tendayi Darikwa and Tommy Lee have all been linked with clubs across the footballing spectrum.

Anyone who goes to watch the Spireites knows that whilst no player is irreplaceable, filling the void that could be left by any of these players with the quality that is required can prove to be a difficult task indeed.

It’s not all doom and gloom though.

Dean Saunders is the man that the Chesterfield hierarchy have entrusted the role at this uncertain period for the club.

Whilst his reputation of three relegations at four clubs precedes him, I have listened to one or two of his interviews since taking the helm and it is apparent that he has a great footballing brain.

Dean should not be judged on his previous performances at this stage.

To the fans of Chesterfield, his past record doesn’t matter one bit, it is what he does in that dug-out for the Spireites every Saturday that matters to me. I mean Paul Cook came into the job with a mere 29 per cent win record at Accrington and that certainly didn’t cause him any harm.

Mr Saunders has also been very quick to bring Mark Crossley into his staff.

I believe this to be a very good move as I would argue that Tommy Lee played some of his best football during Crossley’s previous spell at the club.

He has also been very quick to secure the services of club stalwart Drew Talbot.

Drew is a popular player amongst the fans, and his signing of a new one year deal was a positive statement to send out.

As we move into June, contracts have expired, squads will be built from the free agents out there, the fixtures will be released and fans will look forward to planning their journeys for the big kick off in August.

I shall be watching the developments with keen interest, in terms of budget, player recruitment and departures (hopefully kept at a minimum) and of course the fixtures.

If watching Chesterfield over the last 17 years has taught me anything, I expect nothing less than the usual rollercoaster of emotions.

Best of luck to Dean Saunders and everyone involved with the club.