Column: Relegation nerves slowly dissipating but woe betide the poor soul who shows complacency in John Sheridan’s presence
The relegation nerves are slowly dissipating around the Proact but woe betide the poor soul that exhibits complacency in the presence of John Sheridan.
Chesterfield, now above the drop zone on the merit of goal difference and holding a game in hand over the rest of the bottom seven, are the only National League side without a defeat in their last five.
Sheridan has seven points from the nine on offer since he took charge and the Spireites haven’t lost a league game this year.
But while he permitted his players to enjoy Saturday’s win – only their sixth in the National League all season – the message the manager really wanted to get across was as loud as it was clear.
They can do better.
It doesn’t matter if you win 1-0 or 3-0, but with 10 minutes to go Sheridan wants life to be a lot more comfortable for everyone inside the Proact, bar the visitors of course.
He said it several times, hammering home the point that Town must see games out with more control, with better decisions, better passing.
He wants three points, he doesn’t want players bombing into ‘silly areas’ or going gung-ho and risking two points.
Mercifully, Scot Quigley somehow managed to miss the target with what was a golden late chance for FC Halifax.
Had his header crept in, a two-point gap would still stand between Town and safety, which shows just how important it is that the players heed their manager’s warning.
He’s a demanding manager.
He uses the word ‘demand’ an awful lot and expects his players to demand of each other, to refuse to let little mistakes go unchecked, unnoticed on the pitch.
And it’s his refusal to accept sloppiness that should ensure Chesterfield don’t stop short of the finish line.
It was pleasing to hear him acknowledge the players’ achievement in actually winning the game, it wasn’t a negative post match press conference at all.
He’s only managed the team for three league games and yet under his care they’ve accrued just over a fifth of their total points, which shows how much of a struggle this season has been.
But their league position also shows that they have been competitive – only eight points separate the Spireites from midtable comfort.
And if you look at Sheridan’s ‘mini league’ of nine teams, the one he wanted to top by the end of the campaign, they’re just two points from the ‘summit.’
Three teams from the top end of the table proper form the opposition for Chesterfield’s next three games and although Sheridan might not say it, five points would be an excellent return.
It would see Town match the points tally they reached in 46 League Two games last season, with just 34 of the 2018/19 campaign played.
There should be nothing at all to fear from this trio of fixtures.
Fylde haven’t beaten Town in two attempts, while Wrexham and Harrogate were both fortunate to come away with draws in their respective earlier encounters with the Spireites.
Chesterfield will not finish this season with a league position that would have made anyone proud on the opening day, but there remains a huge opportunity to put some pride back into the club.
Safety is the priority, but why not secure it in style?