As the season rounds the halfway mark, Macclesfield could be in a much worse position right now. Sitting among the playoff spots with little to separate the top six teams in the National League, there is justifiable hope that John Askey’s men could have a reason to celebrate come May. A return to the Football League for the first time in six years would be a fitting end to a season that has had a very strong first half-- but of course, there is still a lot of work to be done.
With plenty of football to be played, Askey has indicated that he is looking to strengthen the squad, which meets the rule of always seeking to improve from a position of power. It’s fair to say some reinforcement will be needed with a packed winter schedule, the chance of injuries, and the knowledge that even if you’re in the promotion mix in December, you can be well adrift by spring.
Going into the decisive half of the season, then, what do Macclesfield need to keep in mind to give themselves the best chance of reaching a higher plane next season?
Turn Some Draws Into Wins
Among the teams fighting for promotion, the Silkmen have the lowest positive goal difference, which is an indication of a team who play a lot of close games-- which is backed up by the recent run of draws which has kept the points counter ticking, but very slowly. Recent games against Tranmere and Maidenhead have seen the team respectively on the good and bad ends of late equalisers. It’s thrilling to get to the 90th minute with something still to play for, but it is much more relaxing to get there with a comfortable lead in your pocket.
There’s no doubting that Askey has attacking talent available to him, with loanee Scott Burgess and Ryan Lloyd showing signs of combining well at Maidenhead. Seeing this talent develop as the season goes on would be handy, as picking up points three at a time would help the promotion push no end.
One quirk of the season so far has been that Macclesfield have found points easier to come by away from home than at the Moss Rose. With home games against fellow contenders Sutton and Wrexham to come between now and the end of the month, this is an issue they’ll need to address sooner rather than later. It’s a nice problem to have, however; sound away form shows that the players are capable of doing the job at home.
This is also an area in which the fans can play a role. It’s natural to be apprehensive when home form is indifferent. Every misplaced pass or opposition corner can make anxiety spread when you feel there’s an equal chance of losing as there is of winning. However, a raucous atmosphere when a promotion rival comes to visit can make a difference. As Betway’s odds reflect, right now Moss Rose is not seen as an unassailable fortress. The players, and the fans, can help each other change that for the better.
New Blood Would Help
As we get towards the opening of the transfer window, it’s no secret that game-changing players don’t grow on trees, but the loan signing of Burgess shows that you don’t necessarily need to spend much to bring someone in. A possible domino effect higher up the leagues, as players move clubs in January to get first-team football, may mean that there are some decent deals to be had out there. Bringing in a little experience might help with the apprehensive home performances, while a younger player keen to prove himself might well make the difference late on in a close game.
Transfer business is not an enviable task, with other clubs fighting to get those players in too, but John Askey has made clear he’s working on it. As the season so far shows, he should be trusted to deliver in January and on into May. While the champagne is on ice right now, there’s definitely no need to put it back in the fridge just yet.
This post may not reflect the views of Macclesfield Town Football Club