Season Preview 2011-12 - Macclesfield Town Interview

Saturday 6th August 2011
Macclesfield Town have become part of the League Two furniture. After spending 15 seasons in the Football League, the last 13 have all been spent in League Two. Rarely threatening to venture to near to the play-off zones, Town will be hoping that this season brings more success to Moss Lane. The club has had to pick itself up and dust itself down following the deaths of Alexander and Butcher, but this has only strengthened the club unity.

Manager Gary Simpson took over after the untimely death of Keith Alexander, Simpson was initially caretaker manager and had to make do with the squad he had at his disposal. But he clearly won the powers that be over after uniting the squad and staving off any threat of relegation, finishing in 16th place.

After years of perhaps underwhelming seasons, It's Round and It's White caught up with Town fan Ian Stewart (ianthenoodle) about what we can expect from Macclesfield Town this season.

What would be a dream season for you?

Promotion, or a playoff push. Realistically, such a thing for Macclesfield is a pipe dream, then again stranger things can happen in football. Given the level of competition in League 2 this season I'd settle for mid-table. There is no reason why we can't do it. Fifteenth last season, which was our best finish since 2004-05, and with a young but very promising squad this season, I certainly hope for a solid season that can remove the fear of relegation long before the last game is due to take place. And who knows? If that is achieved, we could well think about the playoffs.

What would be your worst nightmare?

Losing our league status, relegation to the Conference. Many pundits have often argued the Championship is the most difficult league to get out of the right way. They should take a look at the Conference, over the last few seasons, many former Football League regulars are having to take their time to get back in the league, Mansfield Town, Luton Town and York City to name a few. If this scenario were to happen for the Silkmen then I'd fear for the future, former League sides have struggled financially even to stay in the non-league (i.e. Rushden & Diamonds). I'd really hate for us to be in that situation.

What do you think of your club's summer transfer activity?

It started off slowly, the rumours came flying in, but ultimately the signings have shown great deals of potential in the pre-season. Gary Simpson always has a great eye for players with potential in the lower leagues as well as young offloaded players from Premiership and Championship teams. Coming in this season, I know of no player signed close season by Simmo that's over the age of 25. With a few well experienced heads in Nat Brown and Matt Hamshaw, there is the blend of youth and experience that can create a winning team.

Though I cannot ignore the loss of Tyrone Barnett and Hamza Bencherif, two vital goal scorers for us last season, their departure has given us an important bit of money, but how Simmo has acted in replacing them remains to be seen. Personally, I'm cautiously optimistic about how the new signings will fare.

Who will be your most important player/s this season?

Matt Hamshaw. Whenever he's on the pitch, he is great supplier of the ball for the attackers to put the ball away. But last season, he tended to fill the bench more than the pitch, which was strange because of the effect he had when he came on. He was only on a one-year contract when he joined us last season, but having signed on for another season, the fans hope there's more Hamshaw action this season.

Any players you would happily see the back of?

In the side currently, I can't think of any. It just depends on the individual attitude. The team has always come across as very unified, especially in the traumatic times surrounding the deaths of Keith Alexander and Richard Butcher. Macclesfield Town has worked together following such events, to produce a team worthy of honouring individuals who's attitudes and contribution to the game made them such ideal role models.

Do you have the best manager for the job?

Four simple words. In Simmo We Trust. For a club on such small resources, to maintain our league status is always the goal. We have to be realistic. But Gary Simpson is proving himself to be a capable manager in the lower leagues, he has built a young and promising side and there's talk of a different style of play, and the lack of a target man gives the possibilty that the ball will be on the floor more often this season, which should please the supporters. Of course, if only it achieves the right results. Given how Simpson has done so far, there's no reason to press the panic button.

Opposition players that you respect?

There's a few. Former Silkmen who've left us with fond memories will always have the respect. Kevin McIntyre, who's just signed for Accrington, is one that we should face this season. Southend United signing Neil Harris was rather interesting, he's in his advancing years admittedly, but he's always come across as a model figure, a safe pair of feet whenever a goal was needed. I wish him all the best, except when he's playing against Macclesfield of course!

Opposition players that you despise?

Tend not to hold grudges against players for their attitudes on the pitch, regardless of whether it's against Macclesfield or not. We all known things can get rather heated (don't talk to me about the Wycombe game!) However, if they make their feelings known publicly afterwards then there is the tendency to hate their guts. On a more personal level, I do hold a grudge against Cheltenham Town's Jeff Goulding. When he was playing for Bournemouth, he scored a late late equaliser in a Monday night game against Notts County, that goal cost me £112 on a weekend accumulator. It hurts to this day.

Best away fans/ground in your league?

I'm sure when they come to the Moss Rose on August 27, AFC Wimbledon will bring a prominent and passionate number of fans, so delighted their back in the league after the club was taken away from them when it moved to Milton Keynes. I've often enjoyed the atmosphere of a night midweek game in the cold weather, it is the definition of proper football spectating. In any ground, though the Don Valley Stadium would have to be an exception, I'm sure even Rotherham fans will testify.

Which teams do you really want to beat this season?

Would say this is probably going to be the same answer from nearly all of the League 2 clubs fans. Crawley Town, it's not so much the money they have to burn but that their manager Steve Evans is not exactly a role model, to understate the matter.

Finally, where do you honestly think you will finish?

Between 12th and 18th at best, I find it rather difficult to determine.

Macclesfield fans, do you agree or disagree with Andy's comments? Why not sign up and have your say in the comments section below???
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