It’s a heated debate between Town supporters at the moment.
The wretched rut of Chesterfield FC seems to be a never-ending novel. The 1-1 draw at Maidstone at the weekend was an improvement, but still nowhere near the quality of football needed to even survive comfortably in the National League.
To think that just three years ago Chesterfield were playing the best brand of football the town had ever seen, is simply heart-breaking.
With a gaffer who knows how to win this division like the back of his hand, we came into this season with heaps of hope and optimism. Most of that positivity, if not all of it, has all but vanished by this point.
Over one quarter of the season has gone, and only a singular point keeps the Spireites above the drop zone.
How could this happen? How could a former National League and League Two winner struggle so desperately to even make his Chesterfield squad compete, at a club with huge stature for this level?
There’s a lot of reasons to point at. Some strange managerial decisions made by Martin Allen may well be contributory to the current eleven-game winless streak the Spireites find themselves in – transfer listing your club captain just two months into the season and then naming him in the next matchday squad is just one them.
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Allen clearly has trust issues with his current squad, reshuffling the starting eleven after each game if three points aren’t secured, rather than giving one set starting line-up the chance to ‘gel’ over a series of weeks.
It’s almost as if he’s a rookie manager, as if he has forgotten all of his experiences in management.
We may be questioning him on a couple of oddball moves, but his struggle to alter the fortunes of the North Derbyshire club may be a telltale sign of the rot that continues to grow within the club itself.
A poor recruitment system, a connection with the supporters long lost (or perhaps never made), and scandal after scandal to ruin the once well-respected club’s reputation.
All it takes is one good look at Martin Allen’s CV to realise that his managerial abilities are unquestionable at this level, and that the leadership at the top appears to be more of the problem.
There may have been investment to some extent, but it wasn’t injected when it was needed the most – i.e. when Paul Cook asked for it.
The club has paid the ultimate price for not sufficiently backing one of the greatest managers in its long history and for lacking such desired ambition to take the club to the next level.
Throwing money at big-name players past their prime has also been extremely costly in more ways than financially. Instead of following the Accrington Stanley blueprint of streetwise spending, Chesterfield have splashed out on expensive 37-year-olds who haven’t returned the favour on the pitch.
Since the tides began to turn, four managers have been and gone, and all have miserably failed to make any long-lasting difference. We’re now on our fifth appointment, who for only the briefest of periods looked to have finally stopped the rot.
It’s clear that sacking Allen will solve none of the real issues at hand. Another highly-rated manager may come in his place, but may also suffer the same fate as the five managers who preceded him.
If the collapse is to be stopped, there will need to be a major change right at the top of the hierarchy.