Jury out on Law's men
In the first part of our Blue Square Bet Premier series, we examine Derbyshire outfit Alfreton as they prepare for their second campaign at this level...
There comes a time for clubs punching above their weight when two paths open up: stick and twist. Boss Nicky Law’s initial post-season actions appeared to suggest he was happy to stick, keeping faith with the squad which had begun the season miserably before a timely spring burst. After five years successful years in charge it is little wonder the former Chesterfield manager is seeking stability but off the pitch, the Reds have dramatically increased admission prices, an unpopular move in a footballing backwater.
Law has been around at North Street for long enough to have his finger firmly throbbing to the club’s pulse. Indeed, his Football League experience with Chesterfield, Bradford and Grimsby made him well-qualified for the Town job. The response of his side last season, as they found form and adjusted their playing style when the situation demanded, suggests the 50-year-old is very much in charge and he is likely to remain in vogue whether or not the Reds flounder.
In bumping up admission prices by £5, Alfreton are playing a dangerous game. On the pitch last season ended on something of a high but they are selling an unreliable product in an unremarkable arena to an already unconvinced public. “We cannot be the cheapest admission fees on one of the lowest attendances and have the best team,” said chairman Wayne Bradley in defence of the move, which could yet to prove to be a disaster of wholly estimable proportions.
On the pitch, supporters will expect lessons to have been learned from their topsy-turvy campaign of 2011/12. But with leading scorer Nathan Jarman choosing to drop down a level to join Chester, Law has plenty of questions to answer and plenty of goals to find.
The style which saw the Reds secure survival last term was one of long balls, efficient finishing and uncompromising defending. It was a gameplan which stifled more proficient sides but it is a fragile foundation from which to build a top-half pursuit. Without the goals of Jarman, Law must rely on untried talent. Those players who stepped up a level in 2011 will be stronger for the experiences of last season but that may not be enough as opponents get wise to Town’s one-dimensional approach. Of course, smaller clubs have prospered at this level but it is getting trickier each year for the minnows to compete.
The early odds would suggest the bookies have Alfreton down for a mid-table finish, but we’re not so sure…
For more on the Blue Square Bet Premier, read our profiles of the other 23 sides over the next two weeks: Barrow, Braintree, Cambridge, Dartford, Ebbsfleet, Forest Green, Gateshead, Grimsby, Hereford, Hyde, Kidderminster, Lincoln, Luton, Macclesfield, Mansfield, Newport, Nuneaton, Southport, Stockport, Tamworth, Telford, Woking, Wrexham
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