A clean slate and a fresh start…

ncfc vs wolves

Three months down the line from one of the greatest escapes in modern football, and we are ready to begin all over again. The Football League is due to kick off this weekend, for another 46 games (and let’s not forget the various cup competitions and the play-offs) that will take us through the next nine months.

Of course, in this day and age, you can never truly get away from football. After the regulation season finished, we then had the various play-offs, the climax of the Premier League, the FA Cup final, the European cup finals, topped off with a certain football tournament played in Brazil.

Even before that had come to an end, pre-season then kicked into gear for many clubs, where the teams would fine-tune their teams and tactics in front of their supporters’ eyes.

And then you have Notts County, a team where the player turnover is arguably on a par with the cast of Game of Thrones, which gives the fans yet more reason to be on edge.

Just to prove a point, let’s have a look at the team that started the opening 2013-14 season game against Sheffield United: Bartosz Bialkowski, Mustapha Dumbuya, Alan Sheehan, Gary Liddle, Dean Leacock, Joss Labadie, Mark Fotheringham, Andre Boucaud, Danny Haynes, Yoann Arquin, Jamal Campbell-Ryce.

Of the above, only Dumbuya and Haynes remain at the club. The others have either been released or, in the case of our better players, been sold to other clubs.

There was cause for concern when Bialkowski, Sheehan, Liddle and Campbell-Ryce left, which effectively ripped the spine of our team right out.

Another sour point is the cruciate ligament injury to one of our standout players from the tail end of last season, Jimmy Spencer, which will rule him out of the entire new season.
However, Shaun Derry and Greg Abbott have gone about their business quite admirably, having made a spate of signings that are sure to enthuse the Meadow Lane faithful.

The most high-profile of these include Alan Smith and Roy Carroll, formerly of Manchester United, and ex-West Ham defender Hayden Mullins, though we also took on several promising players from clubs that have been going through hard times, such as Blair Adams from Coventry City and Liam Noble from relegated Carlisle United.

The managerial duo, working on a very tight budget, also made some inspiring loan signings in Zeli Ismail and Jake Cassidy from Wolverhampton Wanderers and Adam Dawson from Leicester City.

After an unimpressive pre-season campaign which nevertheless ended on a high note, with a 2-0 win over Spanish outfit Osasuna, I’m confident that the mistakes which took place have been fixed and that the team has gelled by the time our opening fixture against Preston North End takes place.

Many in the footballing media circles have Notts County down as struggling and even getting relegated in 2014-15, but after the miracles that Derry and Abbott have worked last season, I expect that, in their first full season and with a team of players they’ve trialed, assessed and cherry-picked themselves, the Magpies will give their fans plenty to cheer about in the next nine months.

Written by Giuseppe Labellarte, We Are Going Up’s Notts County blogger

Giuseppe tweets at @JoeJonesHome

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