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Buckley Baloney: Give Green Light to Groves

By: Dan Humphrey
Date: 17/09/2002

TOWN'S recent poor start to the season has seen an upsurge in nostalgia amongst Mariners fans. An increasing number of die-hards have started to campaign for the return of the Golden One: Mr.Alan Buckley.

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As a consultant. Whatever that means. After all, since A.B. is one of our gaffer's main influences, I would assume that Mr.Groves and Mr.Buckley sometimes speak on the telephone? Or, perhaps Mr.Groves has spent so long managed by the Messiah that he ALREADY knows what his advice would be?!

What would be the point of employing our ex-boss? What do you expect him to do?

If you employ Alan Buckley, which version do you expect? Presumably the Saviour Part I, who led us from near oblivion to near top flight. Or maybe Part II, who led us from Division Two to Wembley and back to the First Division. Buckley's record in between these spells and since includes not signing Lee Hughes for West Brom for peanuts, playing his son in the first team to most people's disbelief, and performing his miracle act at Lincoln. Oh hang on, I made that last one up.

The Buckley nostalgia is all wrong. Look at modern football. There are TWO crucial developments which the Pro-Buckley fans overlook.

1. The European dimension.

Bosman ruling, influx of quality European players into the top two Divisions etc....

This means that bigger clubs spend less on players - they are less likely to shop at Blundell Park robbing us of key transfer income. Plus they have bigger squads, attracting European stars to big English cities. Its hard to admit, but Grimsby cannot really compete.

2. The ITV Digital issue

We are broke. Question is, can anyone do better than Paul Groves in the present circumstances? He's running a tight ship and has done well to bring in quality in the shape of Barnard, Chettle, Cooke and the loanees. More to the point, can we afford to waste money on another member of coaching staff? One whose mere presence would undermine the position of our boss.

Also, since when have ex-Managers saved struggling teams? You would not expect Arsenal to go running to George Graham if things went wrong. Maybe Forest should approach Brian Clough? Or Blackburn get Kenny Dalglish back? They were all successful once, surely they could do it again?

The Mariners have a good young manager, who could potentially lead this club for years to come. He knows the players and has shown an ability to bring in decent fresh faces to improve things.

I have faith in Paul Groves, he has pulled off transfer coups which Buckley never came close to, and in more difficult circumstances. Pringle and Todd for instance.

Groves inherited a squad with little if any transfer value, and lost half his side this summer due to finances. Previous boss Lennie Lawrence similarly experienced huge problems with contracts when Buckley left him in a mess, with a dozen players free to leave at once.

The bottom line is Buckley had his chance in Division One. He spent £600,000 on Ashcroft and Coldicott, a lot of money for two players for us. He failed to take advantage of a chance to establish ourselves in the Division, or even aim higher. At a time when Bradford, Charlton and Barnsley all managed to be promoted, Buckley managed to alienate fans, and made few quality signings once we were promoted (only Coyne and Pouton stand out).

Its time to move on. To do so, show your support for Paul Groves and his staff - don't insult them by looking back to the last century.

What were we saying about Buckley just after he was sacked? Town fans give their views in End of an Era

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