Mansfield derby is a tough start for new Notts boss Ardley

Neil Ardley
Neil Ardley

New Notts County manager Neil Ardley begins his time in charge with a big local derby at Mansfield Town on Saturday and a huge amount of work ahead to steer the Magpies to safety.

High hopes and impressive-looking signings in the summer were supposed to signal a promotion push, but they find themselves in the bottom two and on their third manager of the season.

Ardley did a very good job at Wimbledon, firstly guiding them to survival in 2012 against all the odds and then stabilising them before leading them to promotion.

That stability is something Notts have been craving for a long time.

Ardley also has experience of this league and the one above.

He’s not a rookie, and he knows the players at this level, so he is a sensible choice in that respect.

Their problems have been down to a combination of factors.

New signings have taken time to bed in, they’ve had to cope with a change in the style and a change in managers and there has been a lot of instability, and very little continuity.

That’s obviously had an impact, but the problems really stem from recruitment.

Notts will score goals, but it’s defensively where there are real issues.

They have the worst defensive record in the league and it’s not helped by having a real lack of physical presence.

However, Jamie Turley has come in at centre back and done an excellent job.

He’s added a physical presence and a desire to the back four.

He wears his heart on his sleeve and made countless vital last-ditch tackles and goalline blocks, becoming a favourite with the fans as a result.

Injuries are not helping Notts with ex-Stags loanee Kane Hemmings, Enzio Boldewijn, and Lewis Alessandra all out though Jon Sterad has a chance after half an hour in the midweek Checkatrade Trophy game.

Boldewijn has been the star man so far, given he has scored some fabulous goals and has chipped in with assists too.

He may not want to work back defensively as much as people would like, but going forward he is exciting to watch.

Boldewijn is a big miss as he can go past people at will, he can score spectacular goals and his pace is absolutely frightening.

He can be inconsistent, but you expect that at this level.