Liam Norcliffe's Chesterfield column: Spireites need to wise up fast because the threat of a third relegation in four seasons is very real

Chesterfield manager John Sheridan.
Chesterfield manager John Sheridan.

We are now a third of the way through the season and Chesterfield are in the National League relegation zone.

They have won just two out of 15 matches.

They have collected just 12 points from a possible 45.

They have the joint third worst defence in the division.

They have recorded just one clean sheet.

They have not won away.

Are you in our Chesterfield fans gallery against Eastleigh?
They very rarely score first and when they do they can’t defend a lead.

They are playing in front of record low attendances at the Proact.

Manager John Sheridan does not know his best starting 11, naming just one unchanged line-up so far.

Barely anybody is making themselves undroppable from the team.

They look extremely nervous and devoid of confidence.

Frustrated boss John Sheridan ‘frightened’ watching Chesterfield play
From what Sheridan says, they are a quiet bunch of lads.

From what Sheridan says, they are not listening to him.

They were tipped for promotion.

They are 19 points behind leaders FC Halifax Town

They are 12 points off the play-offs.

They apparently have one of the highest budgets in this division.

There is no connection between the fans and the owner.

MATCH REPORT: Chesterfield 1-2 Eastleigh - Spireites let lead slip at home
There is little connection between fans and the players.

The fans desperately want Sheridan to succeed, as does he, but it is just not happening right now.

It is the stuff of nightmares for long suffering Town supporters.

The reality is Chesterfield are once again in a relegation battle for a fourth season in a row.

Back-to-back relegations out of the Football League was followed by a massive struggle until January last season.

In my opinion, there is a very real chance that Chesterfield could be playing in the National League North next season.

No club is ever ‘too big’ to not go down and no team is ever ‘too good’ not to be relegated.

Action photos from Chesterfield v Eastleigh
Could the Spireites really be relegated for the third time in four years? As it stands, I think it is very possible.

So what has got to change?

The first point to make is that there is still plenty time of turn it around.

There are more than 30 games to play and 90 points up for grabs.

Town are only three points from safety and face two teams next in AFC Fylde (19th) and Wrexham (20th) who are also struggling.

One positive in recent weeks has been the return of Tom Denton. The Blues recorded their first win of the season when he came back and he has scored two goals in four starts.

When Denton starts up front with fellow striker Scott Boden, Chesterfield tend to win.

However, Denton is going to have to be carefully managed as he himself admitted that his knee feels sore for a couple of days after games.

But scoring goals is not a problem for Town. They have found the net 18 times which is just one fewer then seventh-placed Dagenham and Redbridge.

The problem is keeping the ball out of the net at the other end. They have shipped 27 goals in 15 games which means they are having to score two a match to get even a point.

In my opinion, Chesterfield need to go back to basics.

As much as Sheridan may want to play 3-5-2 in the long term, at the moment it does not look the answer.

And as much as Sheridan wants his team to play on the front foot, with back-to-back away games now coming up, it might be worth altering his approach slightly and do what teams do to them and frustrate them. Sit everyone behind the ball, cut the gaps in midfield and play on the break using the pace of Gevaro, Spyrou or McGlashan.

It will of course mean that Chesterfield will have less possession but so far this season they have given it away far too cheaply anyway.

At times this season you could drive two double-decker buses through the midfield.

There is nothing wrong with playing ugly when you desperately need a result.

It might not be the way you want to play long term but it might get you a couple of results for the time being.

It might not be pretty but at the moment Chesterfield need results, not free-flowing football.

If Sheridan can find a solution to the midfield problem then I think they will have enough to get themselves out of this mess.

Perhaps a bit of realism is needed too.

Before the Hartlepool United game on September 24 goalkeeping coach Mark Crossley revealed that Sheridan had told him he believes they can still make the play-offs.

It is admirable that Sheridan has so much belief in his players but perhaps they now need to be told that they are very much in a relegation battle. I don’t think it will do them any harm because sooner rather than later the reality of the situation needs to set in otherwise the unthinkable could happen and Chesterfield could be relegated to the sixth their of English football.