Replacing Jack is priority for Spireites

Wednesday 1st May 2013 8:57

Jack Lester: Retiring after 85 goals in 196 league appearances

Jack Lester: Retiring after 85 goals in 196 league appearances

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Chesterfield legend Jack Lester's retirement means the Spireites need a new striker for next season's promotion push, says FanZoner Tom Bates.

Jack Lester reminded Spireites fans exactly what they'd be missing when he said farewell to his playing days at Chesterfield with a couple of goals in the 4-0 end-of-season drubbing of Exeter City.

And thus, after a late surge, the Spireites said goodbye to Jack - and missed out on the League Two play-offs by a mere two points.

But whether it's by an inch or a mile, a miss is a miss, and Paul Cook must now regroup and focus his attention on next season's promotion efforts in his ambitions to get the Spireites back into League One.

Doubtless numerous Spireites fans will be indulging in the pointless exercise of lamenting this season's failure to progress beyond the Football League basement, and will be pointing to a number of games where it all went wrong during a sometimes nail-biting and sometimes brain-numbing up-and-down season; the truth, as Cook readily admits, is his team's inconsistency.

The 'Old Unpredictables' certainly were! For example, how does winning away at Port Vale and Burton Albion compute with home defeats to Accrington Stanley and Fleetwood Town?

In a season of such anomalies, figuring out the reasons may well be a pointless exercise now for the fans, but it's an essential conundrum which Cook must solve for the next campaign - and for the sake of his managerial credentials.

Cook's ambition this season was promotion, and despite his relative failure to achieve that goal it is assuring to know that the manager recognizes exactly where the problems lie, and comforting to believe that he is capable of providing the solution. That he IS capable of providing a solution there is no doubt, and we only have to look at the season to appreciate the progress made since Cook took the reins last October with the team a shambles and languishing around the bottom of the table after a dozen games; if you take the results of the first 10 games and substitute the results of the final 10 games, then we would have finished in a play-off place and possibly gained automatic promotion!

There is a growing sense around the Proact that Cook already has most of the ingredients in his recipe for success for next season, and just needs to bring them all to the boil at the same time!

But he will need to spice his squad up with a recognised striker, and not simply a replacement for 37-year-old Lester, but someone with similar guile to add a major presence in the box alongside Marc Richards and Armand Gnanduillet, who this week signed a new two-year contract at the Proact. Spireites fans will be somewhat disappointed to learn that Kevin Davies is joining Sheffield Wednesday - as the rumour mill has it - and will eagerly await the announcement of the name of the 'recognised striker' who Cook recently claimed had agreed to join the Spireites.

Another major consideration will be the retention of Tendayi Darikwa, whose displays this season have brought him under the radar of several higher division clubs.

Next season will be Cook's first full season in charge and if he can keep his current squad together and spice it up with a couple of new signings during the close season, then add some belief and consistency to the mix, I firmly believe that he can - and will - lead the Spireites into League One next season!

By Tom Bates, FanZone's Chesterfield blogger.

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