The Grimsby Town FC


Question of the Week

Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?




By: Bill Osborne
Date: 04/03/2001

There can be no greater disappointment for football fans than seeing their team lose. It is a part of football and losses are inevitable but in the case of clubs like Grimsby Town who are struggling to avoid relegation, losses bring greater disappointment and despair to the fans.

The defeat by Barnsley on Saturday was no exception. The general opinion was that the team's performance was well below the standard of play they have shown they are capable of. Many claim that the most significant factor in this defeat was the lack of striking power, the club's Achilles heel for the last 10 months or so. Whatever the reasons, many fans signalled their disappointment and disapproval by leaving the ground long before the end of the game and some may not return to Blundell Park for some time.

With this defeat dragging us back close to the relegation zone, it would seem to be the most appropriate time for the club to reassess its priorities, and at the same time cut its losses.

Where there seems to be unanimous agreement is in the fact that the Mariners need more strength up front and manager Lennie Lawrence is still searching for a striker, notwithstanding the fact that this search commenced over five months ago.

Despite the losses incurred this season, partly due to poor gate receipts, the club has had no option but to increase its wages bill by bringing in loan players to help avoid relegation. This has been a bold step by the board who have had had to dig deep into both the commercial and TV rights income to fund the additional wages and expenses.

During the Willems transfer negotiations we were given some indication of the financial problems that confront the club by the need to negotiate a payment plan to pay a transfer fee of approximately 160,000 pounds. This must bring into question the club's ability to bring in a striker of the quality we require who, at current market rates, would cost in the region of 500,000 pounds if manager Lawrence continues to insist that lower league players are not good enough - a surprising stance as Premier clubs often sign players from the lower divisions.

A player could be taken on loan until end of season and signed next season but that is dependent upon survival in the first division with its million pound TV income. There is little point in bringing in a loan player if we do not intend to eventually offer him a contract. The need has always been there and looking only to the end of this season is making a great mistake for the future. If the club could cut off some of the losses they may well be in a position to offer a new player terms that would attract him to Blundell Park.

So now would be an appropriate time for the club to start cutting its losses. Lennie Lawrence must have a plan of action regarding the player pool and indicated so in comments he made recently.

There are a number of players who are out of contract at the end of this season. Some will be offered new contracts but there will be others who may not figure in Lawrence's future plans. If that were the case surely the best option would be to release those players now. If they could find another club to take them it would take them off the wages bill.

Players like Clare and Buckley who appear to be out of favour could be offered for free. Their transfer value is small and no club have made approaches for them, so it seems they will remain on wages until the end of the season despite making no contribution to the current campaign. There may be clubs who would be willing to take them on free transfers. If that is the case then it is another item off the wages bill, which must be well over the acceptable limit for a club in Grimsby's situation.

Another area of concern must be the cost of the Enhua/Groves partnership. There are varying opinions on the effectiveness of this pair compared to the Smith/Handyside option. If there is little difference, although the Groves/Enhua pair is getting the "nod" at the moment, then should the club continue to retain Enhua on loan at what must be a very high price?

These are the sorts of issues that the club must address. After Saturday's performance, which is hardly likely to motivate people to flock to Blundell Park, now would seem the best time. There is little time left between now and the end of the season and it is not unreasonable for the fans to be looking to the club for answers and action.

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