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Slade Meets the Fans
By: Richard Hubbert
TALKING at a fans forum at the Market Rasen Cricket Club this evening, Town boss Russell Slade revealed that he was hopeful of adding a few more new faces to his squad this week.
Slade was speaking at the "Lincoln City vs Grimsby Town" fans forum, where he was joined by ex-Town midfielder and assistant commercial manager, David Smith, Lincoln manager Keith Alexander and their striker Simon Yeo. The evening was hosted by journalist Graham Lloyd.
Top of the Sladeâ€™s shopping list is a striker, and he said he is hopeful of landing one by the end of the week. If he gets his target, he will be the "fastest forward in the division". He also revealed that he is in talks with a goalkeeper about a move to Blundell Park, but at the same time he stated how impressed he has been with ex-Hartlepool goalkeeper Anthony Williams, who has been training with the Mariners for the past week.
It seems almost certain that midfielder Iain Anderson will be leaving Blundell Park. Anderson is one of the top earners at the club, and despite not earning a contract at Dunfermline, he is in talks with another Scottish side. Even if he does not earn a contract at this other side he is with, it seems unlikely the ex-Preston man is in Sladeâ€™s plans. He said "I'm not sure that Anderson is the type of player to get us out of this division". Jonny Rowan doesn't look like he will be staying either, whilst Slade also said that he is meeting with forgotten man Darren Barnard tomorrow about his future. He spoke about how important it is to get the right type of players into the club. "The work ethic and enthusiasm wasn't there last season, and we need to change this". He believes that his signings will bring this in abundance.
He highlighted the problems Town had in defence last season - he told us that he had watched most the videos of last season, a season that saw the Mariners concede 81 league goals. Therefore, he told us that the acquisition of Justin Whittle was "vital for the club if we are to get it right at the back". He also spoke of the pedigree of Simon Ramsden, who he expects to play a part in the Town defence. The priority he said has now switched to a goalkeeper and some forwards, but he may yet add another defender to his squad. He said the fans should be excited by the arrival of Andy Parkinson who he said can create "something out of nothing. He will sometimes do nothing all game and then will suddenly pop up with a goal".
He said the he would definitely be playing with three forwards and it seems that Parkinson will play on the left of the three. The Town fans present were keen to make their voices heard and told Mr Slade how important Graham Hockless could be for Town this season. Slade agreed and said that he was in his plans, but "itâ€™s down to Graham and how hard he works". A question about Tony Crane was also brought up - Slade recognised the enormous potential in the ex Sheffield Wednesday player but said that "he needs to organise himself and get back onto to pitch, and not off it (referring to his countless suspensions last season)". So far though, Slade praised the Mariners squad for their "first rate attitude", particularly the likes of Stacy Coldicott and John McDermott whom have been "excellent".
Slade spoke at length about the club pulling in the right direction - particularly in the changing room, where he said "I only want players that want to put on their Grimsby Town shirt and play their hearts out". He acknowledged the fact that this had not been the case in the past few seasons and in relation to the doom and gloom of the past years, he said "I will drive the negativity away - I know I will, I've done it before". When asked what his aim was for this season he simply replied "to go straight back up".
The ex-Scarborough manager reassured all fans not to panic about assembling a squad before the 7th August. He compared dealings in the transfer market to Russian Roulette - he said "let the players without the clubs panic - not us." He said how "you have to be brave in the transfer market", seemingly hoping that in the coming weeks, players without clubs will lower their wage demands and decide that playing at any league club is better than not playing at all. He defended the amount of trialists at the club -saying that it is a good way to take a good look at players before you buy them. He said that ex Tottenham forward Yannick Kamanan had been looking sharp in training, and he, amongst other will get a chance to play in Thursdayâ€™s friendly with Brigg.
Meanwhile, Lincoln boss Keith Alexander denied that he had ever applied for the Grimsby Town job, or indeed any job whilst at Sincil Bank, saying that he was quite happy to sign a new two-year contract with the Imps. The subject of Alan Buckley was touched upon by both Alexander and David Smith. Alexander admitted to "falling out with Alan" a few times, but still said he was one of the best managers he ever worked for. David Smith said that he got a "telling off from Mr Buckley many a time!". More seriously though, Smith talked about how difficult it has been to keep sponsorship coming into the club and also re-structuring the wage bill post ITV-digital. He said that relegation from the second division has cost the Mariners around Â£500,000.
All in all, it was a very interesting evening with all of the panellists giving honest and frank answers. Thanks and credit must go to Ron Myland and all at the Market Rasen Cricket club for arranging the event. Russell Slade came across extremely well and seems determined to succeed at Blundell Park. He was not afraid to mingle and talk to Town fans after the actual forum had finished - listening to what we all had to say and offering us his opinion. The proof will of course come in the results - but if he has made as much an impression on the players as he did on the fans this evening, Town fans can be quietly hopeful of a successful season.
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