FanZoner Tom Bates is delighted with Chesterfield's turnaround since the appointment of Paul Cook.
Spireites has got them moving in the right direction
'Which club played three successive seasons in three different stadiums, in two different divisions, under three different managers?'
Yes, from Saltergate to the brand new B2Net - which is now the Proact Stadium, and from Division Two to Division One - and back again with the unfortunately clueless (defensively, at least) John Sheridan at the helm. With a promotion and a relegation against his name in successive seasons, Sheridan was given time to put matters right this season and failed miserably.
Thankfully the board took the bold step and sacked him, appointing Tommy Wright as Caretaker Manager before eventually, with the Spireites perilously close to the basement relegation zone, prising Paul Cook away from Accrington Stanley.
I was amongst those who voiced their scepticism and disapproval at this appointment, believing that if the club wanted to progress beyond Division Two, then they needed someone with higher division experience, not someone whose management experience was in Ireland (with Sligo) and then with another Division Two club, Accrington Stanley, who at the time were considered by supporters to be a club of lower status than us in the league pecking order.
How wrong I was, and how happy am I to eat humble pie!
Both club owner and chairman announced that they were appointing Cook because of the 'refreshing' style of play he encouraged, having been impressed by his Accrington side's display in the early season 4-3 defeat at Chesterfield.
Since he took control it has become much easier to understand and see exactly where the problems were prior to Cook's appointment: It's said that 'A new broom sweeps clean' but the major differences since Cook began to make his presence felt are not only in personnel, but in the player's mentality, attitude, commitment, work-rate, organisation and style.
The result is a more positive brand of football, and along with it, a new confidence throughout the team, a fact which is apparent in the recent run of results - four league wins on the trot followed by a draw against Burton. (I'm not suggesting anything, but the last time we won four in a row, we ended up as Champions!)
Getting rid of some of the 'old guard', (and I don't mean Jordan Bowery!) bringing in some fresh faces, and allowing one or two of the promising youngsters a step-up from reserve team football has brought dividends; Darikwa has been a revelation and his deployment alongside Boa Morte in an attacking midfield role is paying off.
For the first time since our promotion-winning days we're beginning to look like a well-balanced, progressive side, playing with a new-found movement and coordination, which begets a pleasing style and sends the fans home happy.
Of course, dyed-in-the-wool Spireites fans are concerned more with the long-term prospects, and what happens when players like Jay O'Shea, Liam Cooper, Brenan Dickinson, to name but three (but all of whom have made a major contribution to the current run of success) have to return to their parent clubs? With Luis Boa Morte only on a short-term contract which expires within weeks, it would seem that Mr Cook's next move should be to try and replace the successful loan players with permanent signings of equal calibre.
But for a club like Chesterfield, with restricted finances, a big squad of quality players has to remain a pipe-dream, thus we have to rely on the expertise of the manager, coaching staff and our own full-time professionals.
Having supported the club for over fifty years, and seen all the managers since the pre-McGuigan days fail to get the club beyond the third tier of English football, I have the distinct feeling that Capt. Cook, with his endeavour and 'refreshing' brand of football (and management) is the man we've all been waiting for.
Watch out, here come the Spireites!
Tom Bates ('Twisted Spireite')