Season’s end offers Silkmen little cause for celebration

Hopes of survival continue to falter as defeat at Bradford pushed the Silkmen closer to the brink.

Barnet’s Friday night defeat had left the door open for Macclesfield to exit the relegation zone, but on current form the three point gap may as well be thirty. Confidence amongst the players and the fans is close to completely eroded.

The positives from the Crewe game were not built on and Horton did not even emerge for post-match interviews- keeping his players in the changing room long after the final whistle to pick apart the pieces of a dismal display. Of course it’s not over till it’s over, but it is looking increasingly likely that after fifteen seasons we will be back in non-league come August.

Traditionally this is the time for most teams to reflect back upon the season and nominate their player of the season. In our precarious position it is not the most pressing concern for Macclesfield fans and with the form over the last few months the question usually provokes a lot of votes for ‘nobody’. Even those willing to engage on slightly more detailed level will find their choices limited, not least by the fact that few players have stayed fit enough to have consistent runs in the team.

My personal choice would be Shaun Brisley. The (still) young defender has got his career firmly back on track and starting to fulfil the initial promise he showed when he broke into the first team. I was a bit concerned that we would struggle with Morgan unfit at the start of the season, but Brisley has really developed into a fine centre back.  Dominating at the back he spent the first half of the season alongside Nat Brown, forming the heart of one of the league’s meanest defences. A perfect candidate for player of the season. If only he hadn’t been loaned/sold to Peterborough in February.

Obviously some people have pointed the decision to allow such a key player to depart as one of the reasons for our current predicament. There is no doubt that Ben Futcher has not adequately compensated for the loss of quality at the back and if we could turn back the clock I’m sure we would all make a different choice – but how much choice we actually had in selling Brisley is up for debate.

It is one of the sad facts that a club of our size a means will always be vulnerable to losing our better players. It is as frustrating as it is necessary – with small crowds such profits are vital to our long-term existence. On the other hand it may also play a role in costing us our short-term league existence.

You could potentially make the case that the sales of Sinclair and Barnett should have put us in a position to refuse offers, but denying a player the chance to jump two divisions and vastly increase his wages is not necessarily constructive.  Also our financial strength is not as high as it might have been. Given the amount of players we have had to bring in – just look at the squad list on the back of a recent programme – a portion of this extra budget probably has probably been expended.

Perusing the alternatives for a vote will show that despite his early exit, only five players have made more starts for the Silkmen this season. Draper and Tomlinson are amongst the contenders, perhaps as a sign of how much we have missed them as much as what they have done on the pitch.

If results go against us it will seal our relegation on Saturday. If they don’t, you almost feel it will only be to prolong the torture. It will take a near miracle to save us now, there is still time for a miracle worker to step up and be remembered as the hero of the season. Still time, but only just.

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