There have been a number of pre-seasons where being a Chesterfield fan has been an interesting time.
Usually the talking point evolves around the question “When are we going to sign a striker?” That’s the usual one.
In 2011, we were anxious about signing a striker to replace Craig Davies to keep us in League One.
We signed Craig Westcarr, which wasn’t the most popular decision at the time.
Fans automatically presumed relegation, due to not feeling Craig Westcarr to be a suitable enough replacement for Craig Davies.
Ironically, it wasn’t the lack of goals that sent us down that year; it was the amount of goals we conceded.
When you have a striker scoring the amount of goals Craig Davies did, keeping clean sheets is never going to be the main objective.
In many ways, it covered up an underlying issue; a problem that no one seemed to notice until our leaky League Two defence came up against League One strike forces.
By that time, we didn’t have the striker to score a hat-trick and help us win 4-3, but that wasn’t the problem. Conceding three, that was the problem.
Onto the following year and preparing for life back in the fourth tier. The main objective was to sign a defender this time around.
In that we signed Sam Hird from Doncaster Rovers. A fairly popular signing, as he had played the previous season in the championship.
Other defensive signings included Terrell Forbes as well as midfielder Sam Togwell.
Feeling moderately satisfied with the summers dealings (Although people were still complaining about Craig Davies still not being replaced, as well a lack of belief in manager John Sheridan); we entered the season hoping for promotion.
How that expectation dwindled quickly. After starting the season with two draws and a defeat, John Sheridan lost his job.
Tommy Wright stood in as caretaker. After only three defeats in his eleven games in charge, it wasn’t all that bad for Tommy Wright. Quite a few draws however meant that Chesterfield was now sitting in the lower regions of League Two.
Our ambition of gaining promotion straight back into League One was looking less and less likely with every game. Time for a change.
Change came in the form of Accrington Stanley manager Paul Cook. A man with a win a percentage of only 29%, with a team realistically looking to simply stay in the league.
Quite a few Chesterfield fans were furious. How can someone with that record turn the sinking ship of Chesterfield around? Well, in the remaining 32 games of the season, Paul Cook’s Chesterfield went from near the bottom of the table to just missing out on the final play-off spot. Not bad for a “terrible appointment.
Over the following two seasons, Chesterfield Football Club became a very different place under Paul Cook.
In Paul Cook’s regime, Chesterfield have made over £2 million in transfer sales, putting the club in a much better place financially.
Not only that, we have managed to reach our highest finishing position in the football pyramid for decades.
The Chesterfield squad is full of talent, talent that other teams will no doubt be looking to take. However, based on recent player sales, we can rest assured that any player leaving Chesterfield will be for £1 million at least, especially the likes of Sam Morsy, Sam Clucas and Tendayi Darikwa.
After Paul Cook’s departure to Portsmouth, Dean Saunders became the next man to take the reins at Chesterfield.
Again, a largely unpopular appointment among the Chesterfield fans, especially with his recent relegation record.
However, Saunders win record at Crawley last season was 40 per cent, a statistic that if carried across the whole season would have easily kept them in the league.
With better players at Chesterfield, there is no reason to suggest that he wouldn’t at least better that record with the Spireites.
Furthermore, remember what happened the last time the Chesterfield fans were disappointed with a new managing appointment? I certainly do!
Going into the pre-season, keeping our current players has to be the number one priority.
However, should any of our prised assets be moved along, the money will need to be invested into replacements if we are again to be successful this year. Dean Saunders has already shown that he is no dummy in the transfer market with the signing of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. Let’s hope that he can continue to sign such quality, should the need arise to replace anyone. Who knows, we may not even lose anyone! If we do, let’s hope that it’s a blessing in disguise. There are worse things to do than support Chesterfield in 2015, I say have faith. This could just be another successful year.