The Grimsby Town FC

Question of the Week

Should Russell Slade be sacked?

Yes immediately
Give him one more game


Looking Ahead

By: Jason Ives
Date: 17/01/2002

THE RESULT on Tuesday night was the latest in a long line of disappointments for us suffering Mariners' fans. It's hard to believe that only 19 weeks ago we were on top of Division 1, full of confidence and looking forward to a top half finish in the league.

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Now, in January 2002, our season appears to be over - with two wins out of 20 or so games - surely we can't survive. It is not just the results that are upsetting, it is the manner of the performances.

Whilst admitting to be a pro-Lennie man I can fully understand the reasons on why he had to go. Furthermore I realise the appointment of Groves was virtually forced upon the club, after all they haven't the finance to get a big name manager and Paul Groves knows the club inside out, has performed more than admirably for a number of years and publicly acknowledged his desire to go into management. It seems to me though that he is perhaps in a no lose situation. If Town survive he will be the messiah - the hero, forever recognised as the man who saved Town from certain relegation in only 4 months. If Town get relegated then it wouldn't be down to him, only 4 months in the job, lack of players, confidence, let's judge him next season where he will have had time to 'bed in' and get his own ideas on board. The question I have to ask though is: Where do we go from here?

On the playing side of things there doesn't appear to be a lot of options. Without funds there is not the opportunity to add better quality to the side. The small squad that Town have, and the many injuries sustained this season have meant that it has sometimes been a case of counting enough fit bodies to send a team out. Therefore the options open to Groves, and Lawrence before him, are limited to say the least. Furthermore the constant formation changes by Lawrence didn't seem to help - at times it looked like certain players hadn't a clue as to their responsibilities.

However, one thing that has become apparent to me over the season is the lack of ideas in the side, and more worryingly a lack of fight when things go wrong. I would suggest that any supporter, even though they hate to see their team lose, detest's it even more when their team display a lack of passion or desire, and even though I don't like saying it, that has been the case sometimes this season. So, what can be done to rescue us and change our fortunes? Is it ALL down to the management or, as I believe, should the players be accepting more responsibility and showing that their hearts are in Grimsby Town FC.

On the plus side we have Danny Coyne, a goalkeeper destined for better things who has been absolute quality for us and, moreover, shown a willingness to fight even when it appears all around him accept defeat. Then there is Simon Ford, who has improved with every game. He came into the side at a difficult time but has displayed a maturity in his play that belies his appearances. Also the form of Ben Chapman has to be recognised. His hard working displays and never say die attitude, often playing out of position but you wouldn't know it the way he has played. Can you believe he went to Scarborough? Also we have the return of John McDermott to look forward to, in my opinion the player we have missed most of all. The announcement that he is to be team captain will obviously be met with approval by all Town fans. Alan Pouton will hopefully soon be available, as well as Livvo, Allen etc. If we can get the squad fit then I'm sure the opportunity will be there for the players to have to fight for their places, and competition is sure to improve performances, individually and collectively.

On the minus side has been the lack of goalscoring opportunities, with the strikers obviously bearing the brunt of the disapproval. However it is down to all the team to create chances - not just the strikers. One of the down sides for me has been the negative or over defensive way we have played, not just recently but over the season. Once again I can understand being defensive minded after the goals we were shipping in but surely there comes a time when you have to gamble a bit more? How many times this season have we been level with 15 minutes to go, brought an extra defender on and then conceded late goals. At Stockport we should of gone for the win, they were there for the taking, but for some reason with 10 minutes to go - an extra defender. Why not go for the points? Against West Brom recently the second half petered out in to a certain 0-0 when perhaps it was an opportunity to get the points. Top 6 side or bottom 6 - we have to win games.

Perhaps it's also time to look at selling players to raise finance in order to bring in new faces. Danny Coyne, unfortunately, will be one to go in the near future although fees for goalkeepers are not great. He deserves a crack at a higher level and after signing the contract at the start of the year, ensuring we will get a fee for him, he will go with all our best wishes. Who else could we sell? I'll get the cat amongst the pigeons by suggesting Jevons. He hasn't looked happy in my eyes and is surely a better player than his displays have shown. His body language and work rate on occasions have to be questioned - perhaps it's just one of them times when it's best for both parties to go their separate ways. I'm sure that, although he has been down on his form, he would interest a number of teams and a fee generated. The move away might also do Phil good, to play in a different team with a different style of play may see him back to his best. Anyway, what does the next 3 months hold for the Mariners, relegation or last gasp safety again. I'm sure that if the players show a bit more passion, commitment, aggression etc then the confidence will come back and results will improve. A performance like the York game should never happen and I hope it doesn't occur again. If the players get together and show fight then the supporters will get behind the team - a formidable match - just ask Fulham!!!!!

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