Fleetwood skipper Nathan Pond has given his insight as to why they have gone from promotion chasers to relegation candidates this term.
He believes the loss of several experienced players over the summer, a lot of new faces and teams working out how to stop Uwe Rosler’s side have combined to turn them from surprise automatic promotion hopefuls to bottom-of-the-table battlers.
The Fleetwood team that finished fourth in League One last term started the season with the same 3-5-2 formation but lost David Ball to Rotherham United, Conor McLaughlin, Jimmy Ryan to Blackpool and failed in their bid to secure the services of centre-back loan star Ben Davies.
They brought in a number of new loan players with varied success as midfielder Aiden O’Neill and defender Baily Cargill returnied to their parent clubs in January.
They have also been hindered by Conor McAleny missing a big chunk of the season due to an ankle injury.
Despite moving to restore that experience in January with the signings of Toumani Diagouraga and Paddy Madden, the loss of left-back Amari’i Bell to Blackburn coincided with the start of an eight-game losing run.
That would see Rosler lose his job and John Sheridan take over.
Now Town are out of the drop zone with eight games to go, starting at AFC Wimbledon today.
Speaking on what has changed, Pond (above) said: “It was the same formation at the start of the season.
“Obviously we lost Ben Davies who is doing good things for Preston North End.
“We lost a lot of key players, international Conor McLaughlin, Bally, Jimmy Ryan which we keep mentioning but they did a good job, defended from the front on set-pieces and they all knew their jobs and as a team it was difficult to re-shuffle a lot of new faces coming in and teams seemed to work you out as well.”
Pond has been at the club since 2003 but this is only the second relegation battle he has ever beeen involved in.
And he says there is always a reaction when a new boss comes in with Sheridan unbeaten in his first five games.
He said: “There is always a reaction when a new manager comes in.
“Everyone feels like they are on a level playing field. People who have not been playing feel like they have a chance.
“There is always a five, 10 per cent increase in training it is just the normal thing.
“When a new manager comes in if your face did not fit with the old manager, with the new manager you think: ‘Oh I might be playing this week, I’ve got a chance.’
“It just gets everyone going in training and then competition for places is better.”