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Guest sheridans_world

Interview with an Away Supporter

 

 

Welcome to this next instalment of Interview with an Away Supporter, this week I cornered one of the County fans at work and asked him to answer 10 questions.

 

1. After the successful season of last year, Stockport have most notably sold Dickinson to Derby for £750k. Only spending money on bring in Baker and Mullins. Coupled with that several players have left club including ex-latic Adam Griffin. Have Stockport got a squad that can take them forward in this division or should more additions be made?

 

I think we've got a squad that is more than capable of being a mid-table side in this division. I've seen nothing so far to think otherwise and we've played two teams in Huddersfield and Leicester who were touted as certain promotion candidates and I wasn't hugely impressed by either. Our biggest loss when we sold Dickinson was that he was a perfect fit for our 4-5-1 point man attack. We've brought in Thompson from NI and he's not the same type of player so we're having to adjust with formations until we find the right blend again. We often play a rough 4-1-2-2-1 formation now so it's a work in progress really. I personally think we need another front man and should play 4-4-2 but we're light on strikers so until January I think we'll keep tinkering with what we've got to see if we can recreate the form of last year where the tactic worked brilliantly.

 

 

2. Stockport are the largest 'fan owned team' in the UK. The absence of a large backer is bound to cause financial problems, have there been any measurers taken by the Stockport Trust to cost-cut or streamline the operations of the club so it can keep afloat and even make a profit?

 

I think the best response to this question is a reverse question. Does having a large backer cause or solve its own financial problems? Having seen both sides of this now I think all fans have to ask themselves one question. Do they want to see a boom and bust approach or would they trade that to ensure their club will always be around? Trust clubs are unique in that they buck the trend of the current game as they HAVE to live within their means to a large extent. There is no sugar daddy to cover shortfalls, no rich owner to spend x amount on a player. As the current credit crunch shows, you're in big trouble if you continually spend what you don't have or you spend trying to reach some reward that may or may not happen (just look at Leeds!!). All football chairman and owners (barring a small minority) only invest in a club with the intention of one day having their money returned. Our previous chairman put money into the club but it wasn't money we had in the bank, it was debt secured against our assets such as the ground and his personal wealth. When it came to sell the club he most likely made a profit on us and recouped all of the money he paid out on transfer fees etc. This situation sounds fine until you actually come to sell your club and then I think a lot of smaller clubs have to give this question some thought: If your chairman walked away, how many millionaires are queuing up to pour money into a business which is essentially, a money losing venture?

 

At least with the Trust run ethos you can cut your cloth accordingly and any money you make can be used to build the club. Admittedly it's a very hard way to operate and credit to our club and trust board for the way they are managing to keep us afloat, nevermind moving forwards! There is also the worry about falling on hard times, but if managed carefully there should be no reason why that cant be planned for too.

 

Perhaps the main point to make about the Trust ethos is that hopefully, if managed carefully, the club should always be around and we aren't ever in the predicament of being wound up like so many clubs in the lower leagues are teetering on the edge of. What level we'll be playing at who knows but by building from the youth with a good manager, selling your players for profits, building your fan base and links with the local community and businesses, there is no reason why a trust run club cannot expand and be successful.

 

It all comes down to how good the people are at the helm of a trust run club. I think County have top people there right now and the majority are working for nothing! Just because your owner is a millionaire doesn’t mean your club will be run well and you'll prosper.

 

 

3. Do the supporters trust keep the fans up-to-date on the running of the club, making the finances transparent or are details like this kept private?

 

This has been and continues to be one of the biggest talking points since the start of the trust ownership. It's a difficult balance between keeping fans up to date and opening up the club to liable action by breaching contracts etc. Finances are a huge talking point, especially in a trust run club but again, there is a fine line between releasing financial information to keep people informed and then having it used against you. If you told your membership the actual state of the finances then other clubs would use it against you i.e. trying to poach players for low fees if you were "officially" skint.

 

It’s a debate that I'm sure will rumble on but I think high level information will always be kept behind closed doors, in some cases, as it should be. However, since we have been a trust run club you definitely can find out more information about a lot of things that you probably wouldn't even be told about if you had a private board. There are mechanisms in place at County to email directly to board members and if they can answer the question, they will. There are also initiatives in place I believe to try and put together information on areas such as finance in a format where it isn’t specific and is compromising the club.

 

Overall if you're a trust run club you can (if you want to) find out a lot more than if you were privately owned, after all, if you were really interested there is nothing to stop you from standing for election to the trust board and then potentially be elected onto the club board and then I'm sure you'd get your fix of juicy gossip and financial info!

 

 

4. Jim Gannon has been manager for nearly three seasons now. In that time he has saved you from relegation and got you promoted to League One. Does he have your support and what do you think of his outbursts, most recently about referee's?

 

As I write this we've had another outburst between Jim and our centre half and captain(ex Oldham) Gaz Owen. I think the fans are split on this, some say he's right to speak out on issues, some say he should keep his mouth shut as it does the club no favors. My personal opinion is that he should keep matters related to the club in-house. I also think, whilst he might be right in speaking up about referees he's not doing us any favors in the long run by claiming we're the victims in certain situations. I'm all for keeping issues low key and certainly not going to the papers with statements and letting them play out in the public domain.

 

As a manager you cant fault him for results, its been a quick upwards journey from the last day 3 seasons ago against Carlisle!! I don't always agree with his methods and I think at times he overcomplicates matters with tactical ideas but it's a new approach we have and perhaps again we're a club that's changing the way the lower leagues work. We aren't full of fading pro's who have dropped down a level or two, we're full of young players that hopefully we can develop together as a group and maybe sell on for huge fees! Things seem to be working ok so far so Jim has my vote!

 

 

5. So new season, higher division, eight games in, eleventh in the league with eleven points on the board, what do you think to the start of the season so far?

 

Its hard to tell really, we are difficult to beat both home and away but we aren't scoring many and don't look as much of a threat up front as we should be. Out of the games so far the only game I think we've taken something from that we didn't deserve is the Leicester game. I think we did more than enough to win at Huddersfield on the opening day and we didn't play to our potential in the home draws with Swindon and Northampton. I think our current league position is reflective of our current form and once we get a few things right with the team formation and maybe some personnel in January we can aim for the top 10.

 

 

6. Interestingly, of those eleven points, five games were draw's with the two wins coming away from home. Do Stockport not play well in front of their home crowd or is there another reason?

 

This has been a bit of a hot topic recently with many fans. Jim Gannon since arriving has tried to install a method of playing where we try and keep the ball and build from the back. Again, this is splitting opinion with many fans, some are getting frustrated with the lack of attacking at home and the slow build up play can at times, in my opinion play into away teams hands. However, away from home its ideal, we sit back, keep the ball, absorb pressure and hit teams on the break. When the system works, its great, when teams do their homework on us and counteract our style it can get a bit frustrating because we seem to lack the skill to break teams down.

7. Who is your 'one to watch'? Who causes other teams problems week-in week-out?

 

I'd pick two really, Carl Baker and Tommy Rowe. Baker has struggled with fitness but he's shown glimpses of real creativity and flare and I think when fully fit he'll provide us with the attacking spark. Rowe is only young and has only really been a first team starter for a year so he can fade out of games at times, which is understandable, but he is tricky and has popped up with a few goals this season. If they both play on either side of Thompson I think they will cause you problems.

 

 

8. Now to the game, re-arranged to a Friday night because of the rugby. Is this a common occurrence? Does Stockport not owning Edgeley park cause many problems or is this a one-off?

Sale Sharks is pretty much a swear word for many County fans. There is certainly no love lost between the two clubs. Its not a personal thing with the team or fans but more an anger towards the previous regime of Cheshire sports who many people feel took over us under false pretences. They feel the main priority for them was to find a ground for Sale and at 4 million, buying a ground and SCFC was a lot cheaper than building a new ground! A lot of people feel from their takeover they gave the football side one go and when it failed they basically asset stripped us and then when the time was right offloaded us onto the Trust. However, this was in an agreement without the ground but with an option to buy it back and a lease to play there rent free for 25 years. It basically means that we are tenants in our own home really and that doesn't sit well with most county fans. The whole issue is obviously more detailed than I've stated but essentially Sale playing at EP is not only an inconvenience for rescheduling purposes (and the state of the pitch!) but it’s a constant reminder of a problem era for the club that it’s struggling with for the foreseeable future.

 

 

9. Oldham have had a good start to the season, currently lying second behind Leicester, can you beat us on Friday?

 

Its an interesting contest. Our team has an average age of less than 22 I think and Oldham have some good seasoned pros like Hughes, Liddel and Crossley (how old is he now?!?!) You’ve got experience and form on your side but we're due a home win and on a derby day anything can happen, and with County, the unexpected often does!

10. Lastly, the ever biased prediction?

 

On current form, if we win it'll be close. We don't have the attacking options to blow teams away so far this season but we should keep it tight. I think we'll have to score first if we are to win.

I'll go for a 2-1 County win! (Thompson, Rowe)(Hughes)

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