NEWPORT County boss Justin Edinburgh faces the most difficult summer of his managerial career, beginning at the start of May.
The ex-Rushden manager did a fantastic job last year of retaining the core of his squad and adding players such as Ryan Jackson and Chris Zebroski who have been big hits and carefully allocating every penny of his somewhat restrictive budget.
Edinburgh quite rightly allowed the players who had earned Newport promotion the opportunity to show what they could do in the Football League and on the whole they’ve performed admirably, outshining Conference winners Mansfield, who finished 15 points ahead of the Exiles, for much of the campaign.
However, the lopsided nature of County’s season simply has to have a bearing on Edinburgh’s thinking for next season.
The Exiles are just about the worst side in the Football League on form in 2014 and it is very clear that this current squad isn’t, and wasn’t, good enough to compete for the League Two play-offs.
The loss of Connor Washington has exposed the Exiles far more than it should have as has the injury to Aaron O’Connor, Newport simply too goal-shy to be taken seriously as a force in League Two.
Newport unquestionably suffered a litany of misfortunes around the turn of the year – and injury-wise, throughout the campaign – but this squad of players has either lacked the quality or the character to prevent a blip becoming an absolute slump.
It’s almost universally true that sides that end a season badly or on a low, even just an isolated disappointment like a play-off defeat, begin the next campaign in similar fashion.
The sad truth is that this slump has shown Newport need more quality to seriously compete in League Two. There won’t be another en masse renewal of contracts.
Edinburgh has some tough decisions to come and he may even already be second guessing the only one he has made, because Mike Flynn currently looks one of County’s most reliable and influential performers.
In the past the former Spurs defender has got things right far more than wrong in his transfer dealings, but there will be no margin for error this summer.
His squad is lacking and it’s up to him to identify where things have gone wrong.