Two years in non-league football for a side of Notts County FC’s size and stature is two years too long, but the Magpies now on the verge of a third season in English soccer’s fifth division, will know that the longer they are away from their rightful home in the EFL, the harder it will be to get back in.
Two hard hit campaigns of global pandemic have succeeded to ensure Notts stay put, for now, in losing the playoff final against Harrogate in 2020 they fell at the semi-final hurdle of the playoffs to Torquay in 2021. Both seasons the club fell short of target, with one of the biggest budgets and best playing squads in the National League, they should be doing better with promotion this time around, essential.
Notts start their season tomorrow at the Hive as they take on Barnet, who last season were abysmal in finishing lowest of those who chose to play out a full season. A win would be perfect opportunity for the side to inflict their status as one of this seasons front runners, but in a campaign where the likes of Torquay, Stockport, Wrexham, Chesterfield, Grimsby and Southend are all aiming for similar outcome, this season looks harder than any other to predict since Notts have been at the level.
One plus the side now has is that Head Coach Ian Burchnall given the time to get his feet under the table and stamp ‘philosophy’ on a squad he’s inherited and tinkered with, ensures at least Notts will go into the season ‘knowing what they are doing’ and knowing what they are about, a more forward-thinking formula to one that previous Manager Neal Ardley used, Burchnall is happy to attack from the back and rely on his ‘best assets’ to be better than their opponents, that sort of philosophy when you have the likes of Kyle Wootton, Ruben Rodrigues and Cal Roberts, should work more often than not.
A few who’ll be missed from last season’s promotion attempt include the likes of Mark Ellis, Jake Reeves, Enzio Boldewijn all on to pastures new, but Notts have signed exciting players this summer, Aaron Nemane and Kairo Mitchell in attack, midfielders Frank Vincent, and Matthew Palmer, whilst Kyle Cameron, Joel Taylor and Ed Francis all strengthen their defence.
Key will be keeping those pivotal in attacking positions at the club a) fit and b) at the club. Ruben Rodrigues grew in strength over the course of last season and became the star of the campaign, Cal Roberts missed many of it, but when on the pitch he shows quality far superior to anyone else playing in the division, Kyle Wootton should he score his twenty goals target, will be the man to drive the side forward to their destiny.
It won’t be easy, the National League is a tough old place, and for many, a visit to Meadow Lane or to host the great Notts County is a cup final in itself, but should those players we talk about step up, perform and do well, should Burchnall show the confidence in them, to play an attacking brand of football with the right blend of knowing when to defend verses when to attack, Notts should again be up there this time around, and when it comes to the business end in May, we all hope it’ll be third time lucky for our boys in black and white.
Notts County face Barnet tomorrow in an away match with limited tickets available to purchase through the home clubs website, the Magpies then host Torquay United on Saturday 28th August at Meadow Lane before taking on Wrexham on bank holiday Monday at the Racecourse Ground.
Watch Notts County FC’s preparations in training…
Head Coach Ian Burchnall is microphoned up as he instructs his side with his coaching staff ahead of the 2021/22 National League season start.
*Main image @Official_NCFC the Notts team ahead of their National League season.