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|Finding the Targets!|
My Town Targets
By: Rob Sedgwick
ALAN Buckley needs to make a number of signings this summer but what positions should he be concentrating on?
First and foremost we need to get some players signed on long-term contracts. This season will see the remnants of the squad which Buckley inherited reach the end of their contracts. Only four players have contracts beyond 2008-2009, all of whom Buckley has himself signed. This season will be the last in which any players who signed contracts with the club before Buckley arrived will be in the squad. We need to start rebuilding the side to our manager's strengths, and this is what I think he needs.
Target No. 1: A Right Back
Town's fundamental problem last season was lack of a right back following the departure of long-serving John McDermott. Clarke was signed as a replacement from Boston but proved to be a better central midfielder. In the end Buckley had to switch to a 3-man defence and use wing backs, basically to get round the lack of a right back. Although that's an option again next season I'd like to see the Mariners go back to a proper 4-4-2 formation which is what Alan Buckley's successful sides have played. 3-5-2 may have got us to Wembley but the main priority next season has to be to aim for promotion instead of flirting with relegation again. Assuming Clarke signs again then he could provide cover at right back if need be, in addition to the loan market.
Target No. 2: Two Centre Backs
Grimsby have just Ryan Bennett and rookie Matthew Bird on their books at the moment who can play at centre back, plus Tom Newey as cover. We need a minimum of four centre backs, ideally two more, at least one of whom has several years experience (like Nick Fenton, actually why isn't it Nick Fenton?). I would see Bennett and an experienced defender as our first choice pairing, with Bird and another younger defender as cover.
Target No. 3: A Big Signing
Fundamentally we need to get fans excited about next season and thinking about getting season tickets. Last year was a very disappointing ending. In the next few days ideally Town need to unveil a new signing which makes us the fans want to get to Blundell Park and see them play in August, and also to convince prospective signings that Grimsby are going places.
I don't pretend to know likely targets but Mansfield striker Michael Boulding would be an example of such a man. It would definitely be worth making someone of that stature a good offer which might entice them to the club. Failing that the signing of an overseas star like JPK Kalala is always something that whets the appetite, or an ageing former top flight player like Why mark, Kirtles, or Begrime is something which in the past has put bums on seats.
The big signing is most likely to be a striker as that is the most glamorous role in football. We also need a regular goal scorer. Most good teams have them, although traditionally Buckley's sides score goals from all over the pitch. Could North, Jar man, Taylor or Butler be a 20-goal a season man? Butler is the most likely to reach the hallowed twenty given his track record (and ignoring his propensity for injury), but the other three are all young enough to improve over the coming years. The problem is we need someone now who is going to get people excited about Grimsby Town now, not talk of potential, so I would make my big signing a striker.
The big signing is as much for business and morale reasons as it is to strengthen the squad. Football is a business and confidence is a huge part of the game, so let's not ignore these aspects of assembling a decent side!
Target No. 4: Left-Sided players Players
Town have on paper enough players in most of the remaining positions, but are they good enough to challenge for a promotion place? The left side of midfield has been a perennial problem, which Nick Hegarty filled last season. Peter Till and Peter Bore are our right wingers, and we still have a number of central midfielders. Of all the areas the left side of midfield and defence is probably our weakest region, with just Newey and Hegarty naturally suited to play there. We could therefore do we someone like Newey who is capable of playing in either position.
Target No. 5: Squad Players
Beyond my first four targets, Town need players capable of playing in more than one position in our chosen system (hopefully 4-4-2) and in Buckley's passing style. I'd say we'd need at least three more squad players to challenge for a place (some of whom could possibly come from our own youth team), and that's assuming that Clarke and Montgomery re-sign for us.
Let's hope 2008-2009 can be successful for the Mariners. If we get the right players I am sure it can be with Alan Buckley at the helm now he's been given the chance to mould a side in his own image. We may be only one bad season from the Conference, but in this division you have twice the chance of getting promoted as relegated, and there's no reason at all why Grimsby shouldn't finish in the top seven.
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