The Silkmen kick off their pre-season friendly programme tomorrow afternoon, with Championship side Derby County the visitors to the Moss Rose.
It will be the first time most fans will have seen Sir John’s new signings in action, and as with most fixtures at this time of the year there is sure to be a number of trialists on show, eager to impress the Manager and earn themselves a contract.
Pre-season matches can often be drab, mundane affairs with players doing their upmost to not get injured before the National League kick off in August (anyone remember John Askey’s leg break against Winsford?). Yet due to the major overhaul of the squad this summer, we are hoping for a competitive, exciting fixture as players try to force their way in to Sir John’s starting XI at the Racecourse Ground next month.
Usually at this point, I would be publishing an expected line up ahead of the game but I think that even the great Mystic Meg would struggle predicting this one!
In fact let’s make this interesting – if you leave us a comment with your predicted line up, and it turns out to be correct then post-match beers are on me – literally as much as you can drink up until 18:30 pm!
Sir John stated at the Fans Forum on Thursday that he wanted to play competitive friendlies against decent sides who will also bring a good travelling support with them. Gone are the days where the opening pre-season fixture was played out at Congleton or Buxton – Askey admitted himself that we are usually “crap” there anyway, and to be honest he does have a point!
So, this is set up to be anything but a summer knockabout solely to improve fitness for The Silkmen. Every player who pulls on that famous blue jersey tomorrow, irrelevant of whether there have signed up or not, has something to prove.
Despite being in and around the play-offs for much of last season, The Rams finished ninth in the Championship – thirteen points behind Fulham in sixth.
Manager Gary Rowett is looking to improve on what ultimately turned out to be a disappointing campaign, and has added former Hull and Birmingham City defender Curtis Davies to the ranks over the summer.
The Rams defence has been bolstered further by the signing of 24 year old former Liverpool and West Brom stopper Andre Wisdom. The 6ft 1” player actually signed a one year loan deal with The Rams whilst at Liverpool in 2013. He was certainly thrown in at the deep end, as he went straight in to the starting line-up for their 1-1 draw with Birmingham City. Wisdom was an ever present in the Derby side that season and was part of the side who suffered the heartbreak of defeat in the Championship Playoff Final against QPR.
The most significant departure of the summer has to be forward Tom Ince who signed for Premier League new boys Huddersfield Town. Son of former Manchester United legend and Macclesfield Town boss Paul Ince, Tom was once Derby’s most expensive signing when he joined from Hull City for £4.75m in July 2015. The move, which angered Tigers boss Steve Bruce led to Ince scoring 25 times in 85 appearances for The Rams over a two year period.
Notable faces within The Rams squad include former England ‘keeper Scott Carson (don’t mention the Croatia game!), journeyman Darren Bent and former Silkmen forward Nick Blackman.
Derby kicked off their pre-season schedule with a convincing 4-0 win over Kidderminster on Tuesday evening where they utilised two separate sides for each half. They led 3-0 at half-time thanks to goals from David Nugent, Craig Bryson and Chris Martin. Former Aston Villa and England striker Darren Bent added a fourth after the interval and after the match Manager Gary Rowett had this to say to Rams TV –
I think that we saw that the quality of our play was very very good at times. What we have to do now is to make sure that we don’t play too openly and leave spaces on the pitch. That will take a lot of work.
I am happy with the fitness of the players and their sharpness – that is what these games are for. Sometimes the younger players do better than you expect and the more senior ones struggle a bit but overall I am happy”
Gary Rowett speaking to Rams TV
Asked about whether he will employ two separate teams at Macc on Saturday, Rowett added;
That is how we do it, that is how we try to build ourselves up.
From next week we will start to give players ninety minutes, so you will probably see some of them dying around sixty or seventy minutes – but they will have to die because that is where they will get their fitness”
Gary Rowett speaking to Rams TV
Silkmen supporters are reminded that entry to the ground is via the Moss Lane turnstiles only tomorrow – once in the ground, you will be able to walk around to your favourite spot!
Prices are as follow:
Over 65 / Under 25: £5
Under 12: FREE
Don’t forget that we will be publishing live match updates from 14:45 tomorrow, so if you can’t make it to the game then this is the place to be!