COLUMN: Chesterfield target winners to fight their way out of League Two
The Chesterfield dressing room might not be a place for the faint of heart next season.
Gary Caldwell and Steve Eyre want to get rid of the negativity around the club and replace it with positivity, through a winning habit.
Obviously, given recent history, they’ll need help away from the football side of things in changing the atmosphere surrounding the Proact.
But on the playing side their aim is to bring in leaders, men who know what it takes to win in League One and League Two.
The Spireites are talking to a number of players who would strengthen and add experience to what was an all-too-inexperienced 2016/17 squad.
Among their CVs are promotions and stints with clubs at the right end of league tables.
These are targets, and there’s no guarantee they’ll end up in the blue of Chesterfield when the new campaign kicks off.
But it shows a recognition within the club that battle-hardened veterans are needed.
Should they pick up even a couple of their most wanted and sit them alongside Ian Evatts and Sam Hirds, there will be no shortage of opinion in the dressing room.
Anyone can talk a good game, you can find opinion in the queue for a Jackson pie on the concourse at half-time every other Saturday at the Proact.
What is required is opinion backed up with real life experience – those who know what they’re talking about because they’ve been there and done it.
Last season saw too many performances devoid of character and heart – conceding soft goals in the dying seconds of games on so many occasions suggested a lack of desire.
When things started to go wrong, Town rarely showed signs of a belief that they could turn it round.
In fact even when things were going right, they showed signs that they feared the opposition could turn it round.
Caldwell and Eyre have both expressed their aim of getting the Spireites back into League One and they’ll want last season’s mental fragility to leave the building this summer.
Neither appears the type to suffer fools lightly.
There’s something of the old school about Eyre and the Caldwell has gone toe-to-toe with the best in the game, literally on occasion – see his April 2008 Old Firm dust up with Davie Weir.
Their targets reflect that hard-nosed competitive spirit, a refusal to go down without a fight.
That doesn’t mean a team of cloggers who kick teams off the Proact, Caldwell is unlikely to abandon his belief that possession football, with an end result, is the way forward.
Their recruitment policy has to smack of the same ambition they’re verbalising.
Realism and the club’s finances should keep expecations in check, players from the top end of any division in the EFL will cost a premium.
That’s why the management team have been scouting at the Shay, why Guy Branston talks about looking in non-league for gems and not discounting any source of talent.
Chesterfield cannot afford to get their recruitment wrong but nor can they afford to be snobbish.
Not every signing can be in possession of a drawer full of league winner’s medals or even be known to fans.
That said, if Town are to compete in what last season was a fiercely-fought division, you’d expect at least a couple of new arrivals to of a certain pedigree and up for the fight – winners.
Evatt is a good start to the summer business and a few more like him would do the job.