I was a bit surprised to read that Grimsby Town had brought in two more loan players this week in the shape of Ipswich striker James Alabi and Crawley midfielder Conor Henderson. The trouble is, none of us know the slightest thing about them. Fortunately we can make unreasoned, unscientific and unfair judgments on them without having seen them kick a ball thanks to the existence of Football Manager.
Despite its popularity, it’s been cited in a number of genuine divorce cases over the years – and I know for a fact that it ended the life of my mate’s laptop when he hurled it across the room in a fit of rage after he lost 1-0 at home to Colwyn Bay in an FA Cup fourth qualifying round match.
It’s also made stars of players that turned out to be a crock of shite in real life (see number 4 in this list for a great example). But the makers will say that it’s more realistic now than it’s ever been, and I’m sure I read something about real football managers in the lower leagues using it to scout potential signings because it saves on time and petrol.
So then, here’s what FM16 makes of James Alabi:
If the game’s anything to go by, he’s got good physical attributes, he’s brave, shows good movement off the ball, works hard and is decent at dribbling. For what it’s worth, had I found him on my own Grimsby Town management campaign (which you can read about on my other blog, It’s Just Electrical Impulses) then I’d be tempted to bring him in on loan myself.
Here are the stats for Conor Henderson:
Looks like a well-rounded player – no outstanding attributes in particular, but good balance, first touch and technique (perhaps something you’d expect from an Arsenal graduate). Looks like he might be a good set piece taker too.
And for what it’s worth, here’s what the game makes of Alex Jones:
Looks like he has some aggression about him – and with scores of 12 or above in acceleration, pace, dribbling and finishing, he should be a good player at this level. I think we’ll see more of him when he gets his debut goal.
Hurst certainly has given himself options up front, and it’s interesting he’s brought in Alabi just when Omar Bogle is returning to fitness. He’s given himself a proper little dilemma. One of our five strikers won’t make the matchday 16, and two more will probably have to sit on the bench:
- Amond – how can you drop a player who is basically scoring a goal a game?
- Pittman – a very capable striker at this level if given a run of games and stays injury free
- Bogle – already in double figures for the season and, on balance, has made a good start to his Grimsby career
- Jones – looks lively and has worked well in partnership with Podge so far. Might see more if and when he grabs a goal his play has deserved
- Alabi – would be unfair to comment given that none of us know anything about him
We know Hurst doesn’t like bringing in loan players and not playing them. But will that upset those players who are here permanently, especially if they’re fit and raring to go?
I’ve blogged about this before and I haven’t got the time or inclination to repeat myself in depth, but despite being a huge advocate of Hurst it’s his management of strikers that remains the one area of his management that concerns me most. I’m not sure he’s been able to keep them all motivated and firing when he begins rotating players and disrupting partnerships.
Personally, with Bogle and Pittman close to a return, I don’t see the necessity of having a fifth striker on the books.
But I’d be delighted to be proved wrong.