2017/18 League Two Preview: Kevin Nolan and Notts County

Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) previews Kevin Nolan and Notts County ahead of the upcoming 2017/18 League Two season.

Background

The Alan Hardy takeover brought fresh perspective to Meadow Lane last season with Kevin Nolan making a favourable impression in his first four months at the helm, building on a positive start to management at Leyton Orient the season before. The Magpies were just a point above the drop zone when he was appointed in January but a run of nine wins in 14 matches extinguished any concerns about relegation. The Liverpudlian’s overall record of 57 points from 36 matches is borderline play-off form, although his first full season presents new challenges.

Personality

Nolan is an analyst who thinks much along the same lines as his mentor Sam Allardyce. He’s an ideas man consumed by a collection of pre-organised beliefs of right and wrong, what should and should not happen in any given scenario, and his actions are driven by these inner cues. His playing career was the subject of much curiosity but his goalscoring record - that ability to find himself in the right place at the right time - was no accident. It’s testament to his powers intuition.

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Verdict

Many of Nolan's solutions last term were stopgaps and plenty of work must be done to convert the Magpies into a team with genuine promotion aspirations. Skipper Michael O’Connor was hugely instrumental in the turnaround but he will be sidelined for several months with a serious knee injury, while age is catching up with strikers John Stead (34) and Shola Ameobi (35). Neither Nolan nor Notts look convincingly equipped for a 46-game season and this might be where his learning curve really begins.

Prediction: top half

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