It’s funny that the Grimsby Telegraph should publish a story today about Grimsby Town manager Paul Hurst’s admiration of striker Lenell John-Lewis because, over the past couple of days, I’ve been working on an article that looks at the variable potency and success of each strike partnership Hurst has tried since he took sole charge of the team in September 2013 (and there are a fair few of them).
Put briefly, the graph questions much of what Hurst has to say about his favourite striker. But that debate can be saved for another day – probably tomorrow.
I think it’s also worth me saying now that I’m right behind Hurst, even if I don’t always agree with his team selections and how he manages his strikers. Since taking sole charge of team affairs, Hurst currently has a 50% win ratio, which is pretty decent by anyone’s standards, so I don’t see the logic in sacking him – even if we don’t go up through the play-offs this season.
And I’m not a brainless critic of John-Lewis. I’ve seen enough football in my life to understand his role in the side – and I saw enough earlier in the season that warranted his inclusion in the starting XI (even if his form, like the rest of the team, has faltered since the turn of the year).
Hurst today spoke about the number of assists John-Lewis has claimed this season (seven), which, we’re told, is only beaten by Scott Neilson. However, I don’t think it’s unfair of me to expect a fair few assists from our strikers anyway. After all, they’re playing in the areas of the pitch that give them the chance to create goals for others.
Reading the article, it made me wonder how many goals and assists Andy Cook would have accumulated during the course of the season had he been given the same number of games and minutes on the pitch as John-Lewis. The same goes for Ross Hannah – who, by the way, has scored three more goals than John-Lewis, from playing fewer games.
My argument from the start has always been that, all things being equal, Cook is a better striker than John-Lewis. And the graph that I plan to publish tomorrow suggests that even when we start with an ‘out of form’ Cook up top, we stick the ball in the back of the net more often.
I’ll leave you with this question: How many different combinations has Hurst used up front this season since Rob Scott left? I’ll give you the answer tomorrow.