Column: The summer warning that wasn't heeded, and the chilling effect it's had on the Spireites
Holding your hands up and owning up to mistakes isn't easy but it's a mark of honesty.
So in the spirit of openness, I’d like to admit to making a huge error of judgement.
Before the season began I predicted a play-off finish, in spite of a moment in a Spanish hotel that should have served as a warning.
Minutes before the squad filed into the room for a team meeting, Steve Eyre, then assistant manager, mentioned that, if he was being greedy, he’d still have liked some pace through the middle, a goalscoring midfielder, pace out wide and more creativity.
My response was that most managers would be saying something similar, taking his words as those of a perfectionist.
Six months on, in the cold light of a mid-February day, those words lay bare the truth about recruitment mistakes that have come to haunt the Spireites.
It was a mistake, on my part, to not heed the warning.
Others around Eyre either didn’t see what he saw, or ignored the warning themselves.
Chesterfield are not in a play-off race, there will be no trip to Wembley and right now every Spireite would snap your hand off if you offered 22nd place in League Two.
I got it very wrong.
Will others follow suit and admit to their mistakes?
Everyone makes them, after all.
Players made them on Tuesday night.
No one closed down Jevani Brown’s shot that goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale spilled and it resulted in a goal.
Sitting back and inviting pressure as a collective allowed the U’s to build an attack that put Robbie Weir in a compromised position and he gave away a penalty.
Dylan Mottley-Henry conceded a throw-in that, when taken, allowed the powerful Uche Ikpeazu to brush off Brad Barry and win a corner.
When the corner came in Weir seemed to lose track of Harrison Dunk, the ball rebounded into Dunk’s path and the game was lost.
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In hindsight you can look at that game and ask the following questions – was it a mistake to put faith in an unproven teenage goalkeeper for a relegation battle?
Was it a mistake to allow the window to close without adding a commanding experienced centre-half?
Should Giles Coke, with no competitive senior appearances in two years, have been withdrawn before his hamstring went?
For the first time in his reign as Town boss, Jack Lester is facing criticism from supporters and his decisions are coming under scrutiny.
The man himself admits that losing games leaves you open to that.
But we can’t yet answer those questions definitively, Coke’s hamstring might be okay, he could prove key in the run in and there’s still a chance that Lester’s actions in January will prove to be perfectly adequate in keeping Town in the Football League.
The same cannot be said of some of the summer decisions made by the club.
Ashley Carson believes it was a mistake not to sack Gary Caldwell in the summer.
Certainly, allowing Caldwell and Guy Branston to recruit the way they did, widening the pitch and not bringing in wingers can now only be seen as the wrong thing to do.
Lester and his squad stand on a shaky, unstable platform, the foundations of which are full of cracks caused by the club’s error-strewnperiod since Paul Cook’s side lost in the play-offs.
Unsuitable managerial appointments, woeful recruitment, handing out two-year deals to injury prone or unworthy players, letting Paul Mitchell leave, selling off players for short term gain when they might have helped avoid an eventual relegation that cost even more than the fees they brought in.
Mistake after mistake has brought about a decline so steep that Lester will have to pull off something close to a miracle to arrest it.
There have been some soaring highs during the Dave Allen ownership era, but the lows are now threatening to render them meaningless.
At the risk of making another error, I’ve searched for a positive to cling to and it’s this – there is nothing in this league from top to bottom and Town have performed best when the odds have been stacked against them.
See Luton ane Exeter at home, Stags and Swindon away for examples.
The bookies have the Spireites second favourites to go down, let’s pray they too have made a mistake.