I posted this on the Morecambe messageboard, after we lost 5-0 at Gillingham yesterday. Can't remember the last time we won - only won 1 in 20, and that one was when we were down in London at a concert. Going to be a long season!
One thing that concerns me about this years team is the complete lack of pace - Rotherham and Gillingham exploited it to great results. It prevents us moving forward quickly, which I think it why we often resort to long ball football. Defensively, it also seems to leave us liable if the other team can quickly counter attack.
The reason for the loss of pace would seem to be Thompson and Baker moving on, both decisions that were out of Sammy's hands. Comparing last seasons squad to this seasons, last season's was stronger, but only for the presence of those two players. In my opinion, comparing the two squads without those players, and I think this season's one is stronger. However, those two players were capable of producing goals or creating chances from nothing, and that's bloody difficult (and expensive) to replace. I think last season, we were profligate in front of goal, but we created more chances. This season, we're still wasting chances, but it's costing us because we're creating less chances overall.
The players we have available who are willing to sign for us are constrained by our budget and location. When we were in the conference, we were one of the biggest teams in the region at that level, and as such, players at that level were willing to sign for us. Now we're in League 2, look at how many other clubs there are in our division locally, some with better resources and facilities, and the amount of players prepared to travel up here will dwindle - bearing in mind that relatively, players at this level are on lower wages, and most likely can't afford to move house when they move clubs. Someone in this thread mentioned Dagenham doing better than us on similar resources, but being in London, they have a far larger pool of talent to be selecting from us. A club of our size, at this level, is looking at signing players other League 2 clubs have let go, or taking chances on players from a lower level. A player faced between playing for Rochdale or us, is more likely to go to Rochdale, if wages are equal. So that leaves the option of offering more money and perhaps attracting more mercanary type players.
Changing the manager won't change the resources or players available. Of course, the tactics are solely down to the manager, but do we really know if he is playing the way he is because of the players he's got, or has he signed the players to play in this way. That's something most of us will never know.
I think we over-performed last season, especially in the first half when we had Lewis and Baker was firing on all cylinders. That raised expectation amongst fans, when I think the current position is a much more realistic one for a club of our size. We seem to be in the same position as Accrington last year, who did OK in their first season, lost some of their best players for their second season and struggled from then on.