After the heroics performed last season to keep the club within league football, Sol Campbell certainly faces an uphill challenge to keep Macc in the division once again.
Amidst a range of off-field problems – becoming all too common within lower league football nowadays – the former Arsenal man will have to once again galvanise a squad able to fight for every point against the odds.
The great escape performed by the Silkmen last year, in my eyes, was nothing short of a miracle.
Arriving with the club bottom place and five points adrift from safety, Campbell taught the group to play with previously unknown levels of passion to push every team as far as physically possible.
Having witnessed their 3-1 defeat to my own team Milton Keynes back in March, what I saw there was certainly not a side who were playing as if they hadn’t been paid that week. Down to a man, the Macclesfield players fought for every ball as if their life depended on it. They rightfully took the lead midway through the first half and were it not for an inspired individual performance from David Wheeler would have taken all three points home with them.
Campbell will need to call upon this mentality once again if his side is to stand any chance throughout the coming campaign.
But having lost some key players and seemingly replaced them with non-league journeyman, there is a chance that this season could be one step too far for the Cheshire side.
Transfers this summer…
Most notable will be the loss of hitman Harry Smith to Northampton Town for an undisclosed fee. Smith hit 8 goals and 4 assists last season which proved vital in keeping his side up, earning vital points against promotion-chasers Mansfield at home and Crawley away on top of a brace against play-off seeking Exeter to garner three points for his side.
Forward Scott Wilson has also left the club, joining Oldham Athletic after having netted 10 times in the league last season and contributing two assists along the way.
Although whilst it is easily to look at the negatives of who has left the club, Campbell has opted to bring in some interesting additions as well.
Theo Vassell joins after having left Port Vale in June. A tall, physically dominant right-back, Vassell struggled to make an impact at Vale and left a sour taste in some fans’ mouths:
“Massively underwhelming for us.. had a few good moments at times but when the pressure was on he was nowhere to be seen. Shame really as he’s a big lad but didn’t use it at Vale.” @pvfcthistle
Although at just 22 years of age, the Stoke-born defender has age on his side and could yet becoming a commanding figure within the division.
Jacob Blyth also joins from Barrow, having had a disappointing season with the National League side. Blyth began his adult career in magnificent fashion, finding the net 7 times and contributing 3 assists in 12 appearances during the 13/14 PL2 campaign for Leicester City, but struggled to maintain this form throughout the following two seasons. Offered a one-year lifeline at 26 years of age by the League Two side, Campbell will be aware that there is evidently a quality player within Blyth – but it will certainly take something special to retrieve this from him.
Fellow Leicester City graduate Jak McCourt also signs after his release from Swindon Town. A mediocre season with Chesterfield in 2016/17 saw him hit 5 with the Spireits as Martin Allen’s side dropped out of the Football League, and will be looking to seize another opportunity within league football under Campbell.
Whilst the opportunity is there for Campbell to make a hero of himself at Moss Rose, many feel that this will be one step too far for the Silkmen this year.
The odds are certainly stacked against them and relegation seems the most likely outcome. But they certainly won’t go down without a fight, and no dignity will be lost under Campbell’s watch.
Martin Atherton – @Martin_Athers