Macclesfield struggled last season and finished just a couple of places above the relegation zone, but the amount of abuse Keith Alexander got from his own fans for guiding a small squad built on a shoestring to safety didn't really make sense. After joining from Bury to replace Ian Brightwell Alexander has steadily plodded along in lower mid-table with the Silkmen without really threatening to push on. He's stuck with a number of his tried and trusted players from his time guiding Lincoln to play-off after play-off and remains the well respected League Two manager he once was.
His 5-3-2 formation suited talented young wing back Izak Reid to a tee and he impressed enough to gain interest from higher divisions before penning a new deal last week. Loanees Paul Morgan and Nat Brown both impressed, leading to permanent deals at the Moss Rose, but the Silkmen did misfire upfront. Youngster Gareth Evans, who's now moved on to Bradford City, scored a lot of penalties but never really offered a great deal more than his work rate to the Silkmen, while Francis Green and Neil Harvey struggled to make any impact at all.
Keith Alexander is one of the most well known managers in the lower league circuit after building his reputation at Lincoln City where he lead the Imps through four play-off campaigns in League Two, without being able to make the final push into League One. His style was rarely pretty on the eyes and he was criticised for his constant long ball, but it suited limited players such as Richard Butcher, Simon Yeo and Ben Futcher well and Alexander was able to mould a side of average lower league players into an effective unit.
Failed spells at Peterborough and Bury seemed to show that Alexander and Lincoln should've stuck with what they knew best (lets face it, anythings better than Peter Jackson), but Alexander has been given the time to start building an effective side at Moss Rose (by the board anyway, if not supporters). He has even shown a willingness to change from his 5-3-2 formation this close season and has trialled a Liverpool-style 4-2-3-1 formation that has impressed in recent games. One things for sure, with Alexander in charge Macc should remain a Football League club.
By far the busiest side in the transfer market this season, Keith Alexander set about decimating his squad as soon as the season ended it and rebuilding it from scratch to leave a solid looking base for the Silkmen. In goal Jonny Brain is usually solid but can be prone to the odd error while the signing of Paul Morgan to partner youngster Shaun Brisley gives the defence a promising look, while Nat Brown and Hamza Bencherif's versatility means they should be top notch additions to Alexander's set up. Carl Tremarco is a solid enough left sided full back while Reid's pace and agility means he has the right side sewn up.
In midfielder former Notts man Paul Bolland provides little skill but plenty of energy and heart, while Ross Draper has a reputation for being one of the most energetic and reliable midfielders in the non-league and John Rooney has the unpredictable turn of skill and ability to open up a defence that makes his cousin so dangerous. Out wide former Eastwood town youngster Colin Daniel has potential but failed to impress on loan last season. Upfront former Lincoln City man Ben Wright will be hoping to get back on the goal trail after a disappointing campaign last season and the likes of Emile Sinclair and Kyle Wilson will be hoping to back him up.
We feel Keith's side has the potential to do quite well, and could even push the top half with a good start. Lower mid-table is perhaps more realistic for the Silkmen however. The likes of Bencherif and Morgan means the defence should be solid enough and Bolland is a good signing to fit into a Keith Alexander team. Ben Wright is proven at this level and youngsters Rooney, Reid and Brisley mean that the side has a young core produced in the youth system. There are also a lot of risky signings like Daniel, Wilson and Sinclair, but they are the kind that could easily turn out to be unearthed gems.