Chesterfield boss makes National League claim including Hartlepool United after Wrexham and Notts County promotion
Cook’s side are firm favourites with the bookmakers to go one better than their play-off final loss to Notts County last season and earn promotion back to the Football League after a number of eye-catching signings so far this summer.
The Spireites will contest their fifth consecutive season outside the Football League after their third place finish with 84 points left them a whopping 27 points from automatic promotion behind champions Wrexham last season.
And Cook’s side would go on to lose out to 107 point second placed Notts County at Wembley in the play-off final on penalties.
But despite their play-off heartbreak, with big hitters Wrexham and Notts County no longer in the division, Cook believes his side will be the team everyone is gunning to beat next season, despite the arrival of both Hartlepool United and Rochdale following their relegation from League Two.
Cook has already made a number of key signings, including former Wigan Athletic and Sunderland striker Will Grigg and the experienced Tom Naylor – and the pressure of claiming the only automatic promotion spot in the National League is something the former Ipswich Town boss is relishing.
“We are going to be the team in the league next year that everyone wants to beat,” Cook told 1866 Sport.
"Wrexham have gone, and Notts County, they carried the same mantle as us.
"Next year, possibly Oldham a little bit, the EFL clubs that have come down, but we will be the one, we are going to be the big scalp in the league next year and we have got to make sure we turn up as much as we can and as regularly as we can and as consistently as we can.
"I felt the town was a really good place to be at the end of last season, and let’s carry that on into this year.”
Chesterfield will need to find more next season, however, with their 2022-23 points tally of 84 not enough to earn automatic promotion in any of the last 10 seasons in the National League with Barrow’s 2020 tally of 70 points disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.