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Lennie Just Had To Go

By: Richard Hubbert
Date: 01/01/2002

LOTS OF CHANGES have happened at Grimsby Town in the last week, but some of the comments about the recent events have astounded me. How can people criticise the board for sacking a manager who has won one game in 20?

Home > Features > Lennie Just Had To Go

In all fairness, Lennie Lawrence had a lot of injuries, but had he been able to get the best out of the players he did have, he just might have done better.

When Lennie Lawrence took over from Alan Buckley, things looked good. Town fans and the board had grown tired of Buckley's arrogance and poor PR, and the sweet-talking Lawrence was music to their ears. There was no doubting Lawrence's ability to handle the media, but it was his motivational skills and his transfer dealings that I think cost him his job.

Firstly, lets take a look at Lennie's first acquisition: Menno Willems for £160,000. Nobody is going to argue that that was a great buy, his presence in midfield has done little to inspire the Town fans and clearly is no better than what Town already have. The other strange thing about this purchase was that he was bought in a position that already had lots of cover with the likes of Burnett, Campbell, Pouton, Coldicott and Butterfield waiting in the wings.

Lennie's second deal was probably the most controversial - the £13,000 a week loan of Zhang Enhua. Was he worth all that money? Opinions are divided, but in my opinion, with Peter Handyside on the bench, a very capable defender, it was money wasted. His next two signings, Jevons and Campbell, only time will tell, but Campbell has certainly not played to the standards he set last season.

Lennie Lawrence all in all had spend £610,000 on transfer deals, bringing in no money from outgoing players. With the Enhua deal heaped on top as well as various loan deals and the signings of Neilson and Boulding which would have required a decent signing on fee, we can see that Lawrence had quite a bit of money to spend, certainly more than Alan Buckley was given in his two years in the First Division.

Motivational skills was the other downfall for Lennie Lawrence. There is no doubting he was a passionate manager, but somehow this did not rub off onto his players. They were simply not committed enough. Nothing illustrates this better than the way in which the team gave up for the last 15 minutes at Walsall, the gutless display against Coventry on Boxing Day or the woeful performances at home to Rotherham, Watford and Gillingham in the autumn. The list goes on.

Concerning the Broomes saga, it's fair to say that some things have been blown out of proportion. Whatever anyone believes let's remember that Town won just one game with Marlon in the team. This does not deter from the fact that he was a decent player and Town fans would have loved to have seen him sign, but at the end of the day, if he is demanding wages that would financially cripple the club, then the board have to stand their ground. Besides, even if we had signed Broomes, Town would still be in a very precarious position and I believe that Lennie would still have gone. But there is no point dwelling on this point: Marlon Broomes is now a Sheffield Wednesday player and there is nothing anybody can do about it.

This brings us onto the whole boardroom issue. Now I admit that the current board are not exactly the most inspiring people in the whole world, but can anyone name me a Town board in recent years that was? Unlikely. At the end of the day, we don't particularly like the current crop of board but who (unless there is a Jack Walker in Grimsby) is seriously going to put lots of money into the club or make a huge difference?

Whether they are putting all the money they have into the club, we don't know and we will never know, but what we have to do is dig deep and get on with the job in hand - staying in Division One. If Town fans continue to complain and protest about the board, there is only one way the club will go and that is down. It is common knowledge that when there is some sort of boardroom struggle or discontent against the board from supporters, the team struggles. This is the last thing we need in what is already a hard task of staying in the First Division. How people can say things like "the board just sit there and take all the glory" amazes me. First of all, what glory are we talking about? I see nothing glorious in a job which means running a business that is loosing £20,000 a week with a bunch of supporters constantly whinging. It is certainly not a job I'd like to do.

All of Grimsby Town's finances depends on First Division football being played at Blundell Park, and quite frankly this was not going to happen under Lennie Lawrence. Too many fans have failed to see that underneath the sweet-talking Lawrence portrayed in the press, was a manager that had just about lost the plot. I, like all Town fans really liked Lennie, he was a real gentleman and had an excellent relationship with the fans, but the rest of his skills left a lot to be desired. I don't know why people have failed to see this. Perhaps it's because of all the years of endless, boring Buckley interviews, fans just got caught up in what Lennie was saying, but the statistics tell their own story.

Staying in Division One is imperative for Grimsby Town and under the severe financial difficulties (and amount of injuries) they have, it means there has to be 110% effort all the time. People may question the appointment of Paul Groves, but they should put that to the back of their minds and get behind the man. Fans may argue he has no experience, or no contacts, but I for one believe he can do it. He must have excellent relationships with ex-Town players who all want first team football at the moment. Don't be surprised to see the likes of John Oster, Clive Mendonca, Mark Lever or Gary Croft return to the club under Groves' reign. But most importantly Grovesy will restore this belief and passion that has been missing under Lennie Lawrence for quite some time. Paul Groves, who epitomises all Grimsby is about in grit and determination just might keep Town up, but only if he receives the backing of everyone connected with Grimsby Town, however they feel about the activities of the last week.

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