Time for Hurst to show he’s learnt from past mistakes

Christian Jolley celebrating

Christian Jolley celebrates his play-off final goal against Wrexham at Wembley in 2013.

The news that Grimsby Town have signed Christian Jolley and Gregor Robertson is definitely welcome, and the additions should strengthen what’s already a very decent squad for a push at the Conference title.

But forgive me if I don’t get too excited just yet. While this is more good work by Paul Hurst in the transfer market, only time will tell if they have the desired effect. We’ve been here before – twice, in fact – and on both those occasions we’ve come up short.

While Robertson will no doubt slot into the left back position in the continued absence of Aswad Thomas, Jolley’s role seems less clear. Is he a winger or a striker? Well both, according to his Mariners Player interview. You can see why his credentials appealed to Hurst, who favours a tricky, pacy wide player with an ability to play up top.

If used as a winger, or inside forward, what does this mean for Mackreth, Pittman, Arnold and Neilson? If used as a striker, where does Palmer fit in? Will Hannah drop one more down the pecking order? And will Watson get another game?

I’m delighted with the quality of these signings. Hurst doesn’t sign many duds – and even the ones we knew nothing of (Magnay) or doubted (Clay) have turned out to be better than we imagined.

But my true judgment will be reserved until May, when we’ll know if we’re back in the Football League or remain a Conference club.

The two previous January transfer windows have promised much and delivered very little. Hurst arms himself with so many attacking options that no one player feels like they can command a starting spot every week, and I think they find that unsettling. A lack of consistency usually delivers a lack of form.

His tendency to rotate his attacking players has not worked. We failed to get the best out of Jennings last season, we saw very little from a promising signing in Tounkara, and as a creature of habit, Cook never suited Hurst’s rotation policy. Neither did Hannah.

Hurst has a squad that many other managers at this level would envy – and that’s credit to him – so the important thing now is being able to get the very best out of it.

As one of Hurst’s big advocates, if there’s one area of his management that I doubt it’s this. Get the best out of the strikers he’s got, between now and the end of the season, and he’ll write himself into the Grimsby Town history books.

Let’s hope that’s the case. In the meantime, here’s hoping he gets (and keeps) all our players fresh, focused and firing.

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