The Opposition View: Notts County

Last updated : 23 March 2016 By Jim Bonner

What is your assessment of Notts County's season so far?

It has been terrible, basically. We spent a lot of money in the summer and almost certainly have one of the top three or four wage bills in the division. Unfortunately the approach to signing players was muddled, with former manager Ricardo Moniz and head of recruitment Guy Branston seemingly signing an entire team each which has left us with a lot of players but no obvious team.

Despite the indifferent results things were fun under Moniz, we scored a lot of goals and conceded a lot of goals, but in terms of pure entertainment there was no one else in the division to come close. Then Jamie Fullarton turned up.

Did Jamie Fullarton deserve the sack and what do you make of Mark Cooper's appointment?

Yes, he deserved the sack. He should never, ever have been appointed in the first place. Owner Ray Trew has a terrible record when it comes to appointing managers, particularly first time ones, and giving the job to the Forest Under 21 coach who seemed to be hated by most of his former players was the final straw.

He may have only been here twelve games, but Fullarton managed to alienate key players, turn a free-scoring outfit into one who struggled to manage a shot on target, managed one goal and one point in five home games and generally came across as a charismaless fun sponge.

Cooper's record is probably as good as a team in our lowly position could hope to attract and he'll be given a bit of time and support with most of just glad that he's not Jamie Fullarton. He should've been appointed a couple of months ago.

Izale McLeod was a player who split opinion amongst Pompey fans when he was with us. What do County fans make of him?

Most will tell you that he's lazy, although that's not something I necessarily agree with. He gets lazy when not in the game, but when the team plays to his strengths, McLeod is an excellent player for this level and will score plenty of goals. He was dreadful and completely disinterested during the last few weeks, although it's sort of understandable with the team having been set up just to defend. 

Ben Davies and Kieron Freeman once played for your team. Any opinions to offer on those two full backs?

It still puzzles me that Davies has ended up at full back. I'm not sure that he made a single tackle during his time at Notts. He was, however, probably the best player in League Two during a title winning season six years ago and his set piece delivery was always incredible.

Freeman was very good during his first loan spell, fitting nicely into a team winning games, but looked a shadow of the player when he returned a year later with Notts down at the bottom of the table.

Who are the key players in the Magpies squad?

Stanley Aborah has been our best player this season and should return to the action after not playing a single minute under Fullarton. Another midfielder ostracised by the former regime should also return to his natural position, with Liam Noble a genuine threat on his day. He was linked with Portsmouth a few weeks ago, I believe - very good on his day but wildly inconsistent and an ongoing red card risk.

Jon Stead hasn't come close to living up to his reputation, whilst our defence is basically an entire write off. Goalkeeper Scott Loach has been our best player for the last month or so, which sort of says it all.

What are the main strengths and weaknesses of your team?

The biggest threat that we pose on Friday is more in terms of the improved atmosphere around the place than actually being a good football team.

The departure of Fullarton and news of an impending takeover has cheered the fans up a bit and more will travel than would've done. They are also likely to get behind the team a bit rather than boo and bring a sea of 'Fullarton Out' banners, which should also help the team who have struggled to play in a toxic atmosphere recently.

It's a free hit for Notts and that always makes a team dangerous. It is fair to say, however, that Cooper probably isn't going to be able to teach us how to defend in the space of four days.

What kind of match can we expect at Fratton Park and how confident of a result are you now have a new manager and Pompey seem to have hit a rough patch of form?

We don't really know. Under Moniz we would've played four up front and probably lost 4-3, under Fullarton we would've played eight at the back and lost 3-0. The challenge for Cooper is to find some kind of middle ground. Most of us will be happy to see the return of the attacking players completely ignored by Fullarton and to celebrate the departure of the wicked witch. A result would just be a bonus.

Predict the outcome of the game.

I can't see Cooper changing the obvious flaws this team has so quickly, but they should at least play with a bit of freedom. 3-2 Portsmouth.