Five things John Pemberton must do if Chesterfield are to avoid relegation from the National League

John Pemberton has got a big challenge on his hands if he is to keep Chesterfield in the National League.

Monday, 13th January 2020, 12:06 pm

With 16 games to go, the Spireites are third bottom and two points from safety.

Pemberton took over as caretaker boss following the sacking of John Sheridan and got off to a winning start in his first match against Sutton United.

When Town are next in action against Eastleigh the 55-year-old will have had two weeks on the training ground to make his mark on the team.

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Here’s five things he must do to give Chesterfield the best chance of avoiding relegation:

Tighten up defensively

The Spireites have the third worst defence in the league having conceded 53. Only Torquay United (55) and Ebbsfleet United (58) have shipped more.

They have managed just five clean sheets this season.

John Pemberton having a word with Chesterfield striker Mike Fondop after his sending off against Sutton United.

John Pemberton is well aware of their defensive problems and his first training session was spent on organisation.

They have got to cut out the individual mistakes which have cost them dearly so far this season.

It is not just the back four’s fault, they have to defend from the front and the midfield needs to work more as a unit.

Sort the midfield

This has been Chesterfield’s biggest problem this season.

Previous boss John Sheridan tried several combinations but did not stick with any of them.

In his first game against Sutton Pemberton went with three in the middle of the park of Jonathan Smith, Curtis Weston and Sam Wedgbury and they showed signs of working well together.

The caretaker manager wants to play possession-based football so he might look to bring in some extra quality on loan who fits that bill, as well as someone who can add more goals from midfield.

Get the player recruitment right

The players who Pemberton brings in could be the difference between them staying in the National League or being relegated.

He has already said he plans on bringing in a goalkeeper to challenge Shwan Jalal with Luke Coddington out injured for the rest of the season.

I would also expect him to sign a right-back and one, if not two, midfielders.

Manage Mike Fondop

Pemberton said Fondop’s sending off after the final whistle against Sutton United “soured” the win.

He said the forward was “unplayable” and will be a “big miss.”

Fondop, who is Town’s top scorer this season with 11 goals in all competitions, was sent off for violent conduct.

He will now miss the games against Eastleigh, AFC Fylde and Notts County.

Fondop plays on the edge and it has been noticeable in recent weeks that teams have targeted him knowing he might lash out.

If Pemberton can get Fondop to play with aggression but control it better, then he will no doubt play a huge part between now and the end of the season.

Get the best out of Liam Mandeville

The 22-year-old is a talented player but we have only seen it in short spells so far since he signed last summer.

He is probably Town’s best technical player so Pemberton needs to find a way of getting the best out of him.

Mandeville played behind the strikers against Sutton and his quality was there for all to see.

The attacker has just two goals and has rarely played a full 90 minutes.

On his day he can produce a moment of brilliance and we need to see more of what he can do in the next 16 matches.