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Will It Ever End?

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 24/11/2001

TODAY, Billo opens another series of rants! Disappointed about recent results and performances? Do you think you know what's wrong and how to solve our current problems? Got an axe to grind regarding the Mariners, the club or the manager? Then this is the place for you.

Home > Features > Will It Ever End?

Billo's Rant!

For two seasons now, Grimsby Town supporters have been the underdogs of the first division. Occasionally but not very often, they have sat on the edge of their seats in excitement at seeing the Mighty Mariners crush bigger and more successful clubs. Remember the final game last season?

That last game brought survival in the first division, and hope to us all that finally we had turned that invisible corner and heading for better things. When the current season began, that hope was made even stronger as Town powered their way to the top of the table with a run of good results.

Many who witnessed those games were of the belief that Town deserved their position due to their playing ability. Others attributed it to Lady Luck smiling on the Mariners. Whatever the reason, Town were top and some of the long lost fans were gradually returning to Blundell Park hoping to see the continuance of that success, or good luck, depending on their point of view.

Yesterday, the Mariners suffered a not unexpected loss to table toppers Burnley. In normal times, if anything ever is normal, fans would have shrugged their shoulders, commented how close it was and how we managed to hold the division leaders to a one-goal margin.

But these are not normal times at Grimsby Town Football club. Plummeting down the table at such a fast rate that, had it not been for the excellent start to the season, we would be on the bottom position with so many points adrift that recovery would be virtually impossible.

It is not too late even now for that scenario to evolve unless we re-assemble the squad, sort out the problems and get us back on the winning trail. The trouble with that statement, is that we have to pinpoint exactly what the problems are if we are to resolve them.

Many fans have already highlighted what they consider the three major problem areas.

    The players are not good enough for this division.
    The board needs to inject more money into the club.
    The manager is not good enough.

If one looks at the first option, it might be more truthful to say that the players don't believe themselves to be good enough for this division or, that some are not even attempting to be good enough for this division (I can think of one in particular). It may also be true that some of them are not up to first division standard and we need to replace them.

As for the second option, it is fair to point out that Grimsby Town have allocated a record amount of money to the player pool over the last two seasons, to ensure we survive in this division. With almost two million pounds spent, one would hope that we could have expected more than just survival, but we have not even achieved that so far.

No other manager in history has had that much at Grimsby Town and neither have a few other managers in the first division over the last two seasons. There would also be great joy in some clubs to hear that a director is willing to pay an extra 3,000 pounds a week to sign a former fan's hero.

Which bring us to the last but most contentious issue.

Is Lennie Lawrence good enough to manage Grimsby Town and lead us from the valley of the shadow of, not death, but the second division? (Which looks like our destination at this stage).

There is no doubt that Mr. Lawrence is not universally popular and there exists amongst the fans a small core who were opposed to his appointment in the first place and were determined never to support him no matter how good he was. But for the majority of fans, Lennie was welcomed to the club and he quickly became quite popular.

That popularity is now waning fast and over the last few weeks the noises and signs of disgruntlement and impatience among the fans are become quite distinct and it is now becoming decidedly hostile. Many of his critics point in particular to his tactical awareness or lack of it, especially about what they see as playing people "out of position."

I must admit that since his arrival at Blundell Park I must be reckoned to be THE, or at least one of, his staunchest supporters. Not withstanding that, I am critical of him in one, and perhaps the most crucial area, and that is the money he has expended during his short time here.

Almost 2 million pounds expended, some admittedly on improving current player's wages in order to keep them which was the cheapest option and there can be no complaints about that. But to allow players like Handyside and Donovan to leave the club because they could not afford to match their terms, but on the other hand, spending 15,000 pounds a week on Zhang Enhua and Fostervold is unforgiveable considering that neither player was greatly better than those we had and, in Fostervolds case, perhaps worse.

But on the positive side, Lawrence has been very good at finding good players like Campbell and Jevons who he signed, and bringing in other good players on loan which has been a saving for the club, But I cannot help thinking that we could have bought some very good players for 2 million pounds.

So it seems now that many are now calling for Lennie's head. Not me!

I think that if he leaves now, there is no one currently available who is either able or willing to come to our aid bearing in mind our position and the fact that the money made available has now been spent. I also have a feeling that the tide will turn and we will avoid relegation. I hope that I am right. I also believe that despite the current position and the poor results we are getting, we should support the lads and the manager until the end of the season at least. I can see no merit in barracking them and contributing to the present misfortunes.

However, if the board does not act earlier, and Lennie Lawrence stays until the end of the season, his contract renewal must depend upon him keeping us in the first division.

Otherwise, farewell Lennie Lawrence! and even he would not disagree with that option. Would you?

Please Note: I am not claiming my opinions and views are expert reviews of GTFC or qualified statements. I am just having a good old rant to get a few things off my chest.

If you have a rant or two and you would also like the opportunity to air your views and opinions, Click here to submit them!

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