Torquay United 5 – 1 Notts County (Magpies promotion hopes falter)

As some may know, I’m a casual observer of goings-on in the Nottingham football world, sometimes as a spectator of both Nottingham Forest and Notts County.

It’s been greatly pleasing to witness Forest’s incredible turn around in season 2021/22. After seven games they looked to be dead and buried and rushing headlong down towards League 1. Now they have a season ending full of hope and great possibilities. Good luck to them and I hope upon hope they make it back to the Premier League after a quarter of a century away. It is however about the black and white side of the city that I speak today. Notts County, spending their third season out of League football, flattering to deceive at times, toiling at others as they hand around and outside the lower reaches of the play-off spots.

The Notts players troop disconsolately off the pitch after a mauling by Torquay
(Image: Dan Westwell)

Not particular meaning to rubbish Head Coach Ian Burchnall in the wake of a shocking result and display yesterday and I certainly don’t subscribe to the bi-polar method of watching football these days but I find his preponderance of importance to the importance of what happens on the training field a strange aspect to his work and signs of it have been noticeable at various times. He extremely often talks about and seems to take great store in a player ‘training well’ and ‘doing well on the training ground’ – more than any coach/manager I can think of. Now the guy is an experienced professional and I’ve only ever been an amateur player and fan so he undoubtedly has forgotten more than I have ever known about the game, but I find his attitude a little disturbing.

Surely it’s all about what happens on match day? That’s what every player trains for, it’s the culmination of their working week and the very thing they are judged on – not how good they looked in training when it ultimately doesn’t matter. Can they do it on the day? Can they perform when it’s demanded and necessary? Can they be winners, not just show ponies weaving pretty patterns on the pitch?

Watching footage of some of his training sessions with the players it he appears a very technical coach. That’s fine but does the accent on that work help when you’re 2-0 down in a crucial match and getting your back side kicked all over the park? Will that concentration on the technicalities and complicated tactics and systems in training and selection of players help you stand up on the other side of those white lines, be a leader and drag your team forwards?

As for him finding match days ‘stressful’ as he states, it might be questioned if he’s in the right job because whether he enjoys it or not, that’s what the hell this game is all about.

It’s been said many times in so many different ways but basically Notts lack sheer courage and character at times. We all enjoy ‘nice’ football but make no mistake, this is the fifth division of football and it’s high time Notts adapted to it in order to get the heck out of it.

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