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Excuses, Bullying and Tragedy
Russell Slade and the board of Grimsby Town continues to reel off a continuous line of pathetic excuses, false promises, deluded expectations and possibly even downright lies. One week we are going to make “quality signings” next week the market is “over-inflated” and the prices of players are “ridiculous”. There is a tragic incoherence to these words which leaves many Town fans wondering: what next?
The answer is unclear. Slade was brought back and stated himself in his first press conference that his “minimum target” was a top 7 and play off finish. I even wrote about that this wasn’t an implausible target due to the quality of players we already had and my belief in Slade’s contacts and gravitas would give us an added pull factor in the transfer market. Needless to say, I was hopelessly misled by the same set of anecdotes and rhetoric that I stated earlier. It has worn thin. It almost speaks of the “American Dream” an unattainable paradise based on untold riches that drives tragic hero Willy Loman to his grave in Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ and the parallels between our current predicament and the fictional tragic hero are remarkable. Slade still spoke of his belief that the play offs was a realistic aim last week. Sadly, that speaks of delusion, we have scored 2 goals in 7 games, collected 2 points in 7 games and the huge inadequacies that our side has, have become incontrovertibly obvious not only to our loyal fan base but more importantly to opposition scouts, managers and players.
We have settled into a deeply undesirable rhythm of looking reasonably competent for the opening exchanges of a game, we pass the ball around quite nicely, get into a couple of promising positions and look relatively untroubled at the other end and then invariably concede a soft goal and revert to type. Hopeless long ball, hoofed aimlessly up to the helpless striker whether it be Jamille Matt or Scott Vernon. Both put in substantial amounts of work in every game they play but always in ultimate futility. We don’t have a creative player to speak of. Jamey Osborne (by far our most creative outlet) has gone back to Solihull Moors on a permanent transfer for reasons that seem to have become state secret.
We read of Slade refusing to play Osborne in his preferred central midfield berth and then Slade rebuts this by saying it was due to “personal issues” and his heart not truly being in it. The question is why is the case? That is the $64,000 question, was Slade unfair on Osborne by not giving him a chance to prove his worth or does it prove a lack of application and determination on Osborne’s side that results in clarification in showing why this incredibly gifted player remains a non-league player at 25 years old. My personal opinion is that it is probably a mixture of both, judging by recent events in the club I see a common theme occurring with regard to Marcus Bignot’s signings, i.e. Slade is moving them out left right and centre.
Currently there are 3 left and I would be staggered if that number is any more than 1 come 1st February. The latest issue seems to be with another Bignot signing, namely Akwasi Asante, who has returned from an admittedly unsuccessful loan at Solihull Moors. In his defence, the manager changed mid-way through that loan and they are in the relegation places and look likely to go down. I believed that he was worth a run of games in the Town team, give that our strike force has scored a worrying 5 goals between them all season, if you exclude Sam Jones who isn’t really a striker. However, it has been revealed that having returned from his loan, he has been immediately put into train with the youth team and it seems inevitable that the man considered a better prospect than Omar Bogle just 3 years ago will be shipped out to somewhere else. Again, this is only a rumour but Saturday’s team sheet did nothing to dispel this theory.
I know that your memory plays tricks on you but even the darkest of the dark days in the Conference or mid-way through the 30-game winless run in the relegation season I don’t remember there being a nigh on unanimous and unequivocal (to use the board’s word from the recent vote of confidence statement) against the management and board. John Fenty now has to have several stewards standing to protect him at home games. A man from the main stand gave a Theresa May style P45 to Slade last week and it has become abhorrently obvious that there is a wave of discontent directed at the club’s hierarchy. The all too frequent PR gaffes, vis a vis the Checkatrade Trophy, the Stevenage bra-gate and simply disgusting treatment of BBC Radio Humberside presenter Matt Dean at the recent Fans’ Forum only accentuate the Mariana Trench style chasm that has opened up between the fan base and the people who run our beloved club. Added to that the dire recent run of form, the equally dire style of play, the alleged treatment of returning loanees, the stark lack of quality and more importantly goals in the squad and the seeming similarities between this season and the 2009-10 relegation season have alienated fans to such a degree we are down to basically the hard-core 3000 fans who attend home games. The club appears rotten from top to bottom but sadly unless someone has £4 million lying around to buy Mr Fenty out of his loans and shares then that argument is a monumental exercise in futility.
I want to place on record that I have absolutely no idea in what direction the club is heading or what the right way to tackle this predicament is, I don’t pretend to know about appointing managers or running a financially operational business. I say on behalf of all Grimsby Town fans, I beg for a change of approach and then probably result.
words Sam Barrick, D3D4 Grimsby Town correspondent