Silkmen strive for solidity
Steve King's arrival in the summer was not met with universal acclaim but the former Lewes boss has the makings of a talented squad…
Macclesfield may have been tipped for the drop at the start of just about every one of their 15 seasons back in the Football League but that didn’t make their relegation any more palatable when it arrived in April. While their modest infrastructure at least allows the off-field operation to remain relatively stable, on-pitch matters have been anything but.
Brian Horton was drafted in as the Silkmen sought to make a late dash for safety but the impact of the returning boss was negligible and his exit welcomed. However, the club’s next managerial move was rather more controversial. From a slew of applicants Town chose former Lewes, Northwich and Farnborough chief Steve King. The owners made the call, leading to a mass resignation of the club’s board in protest. Supporters weren’t universally satisfied with King’s arrival, either. This is, after all, a man with just three months’ experience of management at this level.
Undeterred, King wasted little time in revamping an underachieving and overpopulated squad but such has been the turnover, it will take a significant effort to cobble the new group into a side fit to challenge in the upper reaches this term.
Despite the reservations over King’s appointment, as well as his relatively thin CV, Macc fans will accept any morsel of pleasure they can lay their hands on after a miserable first half of 2012. As supporters quickly realise, when the pain of a Football League exit begins to numb, victories, last-minute winners and humiliating defeats all feel exactly the same, no matter what the division. If King can restore some joy, he’ll buy himself time with the Moss Rose faithful.
And he has promised to entertain. “I’ve always been someone that wants to play attractive football with skilful players,” he told the Manchester Evening News in May. If he is true to his word – and the signings of the likes of Peter Winn, John Paul Kissock and Keiran Murtagh would suggest he is – his job could become a whole lot easier.
The good news for King is that the Silkmen tend not to be prone to rash decisions, indeed Gary Simpson was perhaps given the benefit of the doubt for too long last term.
There is no such thing as a comfortable relegation and Macc’s was anything but, however, the threat of a non-league return was rarely far away during their 15 Football League years. In that regard, the Blue Square Bet Premier holds few fears particularly with the squad King has so far assembled.
However, the off-field upheaval has thickened the atmosphere at Moss Rose. The club’s Iraqi owners, who appointed King, are under as much scrutiny as ever with plenty of dissenting voices waiting for the new administration to hit stormy waters.
On the pitch, the summer signings have been greeted with cautious interest. Winn, Murtagh, former Wimbledon winger Ryan Jackson and Matthew Barnes-Homer, once of Luton, have all enjoyed eye-catching spells during their careers but their character references are far-from glowing. Jackson and Murtagh spent time at divisional rivals Cambridge last term and both were sent packing with questions over their attitudes following swiftly behind.
The Silkmen are slowly establishing a base from which to build a season of progress, but the pieces may not all be in place by the time August rolls around. History tells us that recovering from relegation often takes more than simply a few useful summer signings. Lincoln, who dropped down in 2010/11, cleared the decks immediately but a season of struggle has forced them to wipe the slate clean again.
It tends to take time to re-establish order, as so many former Football League clubs are still busy finding out and Macc may be forced to take another step back before moving forward again.
King has left his base on the south coast to join the Cheshire club, moving from an area in which he retains plenty of admirers into a northern cauldron brewing doubt and concern. And while Macc fans’ fears are not unfounded they should have the raw talent to stave off any threats of relegation and secure a spot in mid-table.
For more on the Blue Square Bet Premier, read our profiles of the other 23 sides during the coming days: Alfreton, Barrow, Braintree, Cambridge, Dartford, Ebbsfleet, Forest Green, Gateshead, Grimsby, Hereford, Hyde, Kidderminster, Lincoln, Luton, Mansfield, Newport, Nuneaton, Southport, Stockport, Tamworth, Telford, Woking, Wrexham
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