Today’s Cod Almighty diary notes that this Saturday’s match squad for our trip to in-form Crawley will include precisely no one who played for us this time last year in a 5-0 defeat at Crewe.
I was at Gresy Road that day and witnessed the calamity. It was obvious that the starting XI were complete strangers – and if the weird formation Marcus Bignot imposed wasn’t confusing enough for a team that was still trying to learn each other’s names, they then had to play with Gavin Gunning.
Although it wasn’t nice to watch, I was just about willing to accept that these things happen because, you know, football is played by human beings with emotions and feelings and a whole host of issues that could affect their mental preparations to the point where it impacts negatively on their physical ability.
Remember the context – we had a (relatively) new manager who got over-excited and splurged a load of cash on new players, and then he threw them into a team that was trying to gel again after Paul Hurst found an escape route to Shrewsbury.
And we’d just lost our talisman, Omar Bogle. Is it any wonder we played badly?
The squad upheaval, combined with a change in tactics, training and culture, most definitely contributed to our downfall that day (and other days besides).
Therefore, I find it incredible that within 12 months we find ourselves in exactly the same situation. Not one survivor from a squad of SIXTEEN in that short time? Madness.
Once again, we’ve let a manager act like a child given keys to the sweet shop.
We’ve literally let Russell Slade repeat the same mistakes Bignot made – only Slade has generally signed poorer players, got the team playing uglier football and has now delivered our worst run of league results in eight years.
Slade has also begun replacing players that he signed on two-year contracts only six months ago.
John Fenty recently made it clear to a couple of fans in a car that Bignot wasn’t sacked based on results (which was a shame for our PR department because, as we all know, our PR is done on the pitch).
By drawing on all my investigative instincts I can deduce, therefore, that Bignot was sacked for what he did off the pitch – namely signing a shit load of players, just because he could.
And for being a ‘fruit loop’, whatever that means.
It’s a shame none of our esteemed directors had the foresight or balls in January 2017 to say: ‘Marcus, I know you’re excited that you have all this money to spend, but we really think 12 central midfielders is enough for a team in the fourth division. You don’t need a 13th.’
Similarly, none of our directors felt able to say: ‘Russ, I know you don’t like half the players you signed in the summer but it’s December and we’re in the top half, just a few points outside the play-offs. They’re not that bad. You don’t need to sign another entire squad on loan.’
Every accusation levelled at Bignot can be levelled at Slade, and then some. If Bignot was a fruit loop then how would you describe someone who loans players from other clubs to replace permanent members of the squad because he played them for five minutes and decided they were crap?
When Grimsby Town’s starting XI walks out onto the pitch at Crawley, we’ll be once again watching a bunch of strangers still trying to learn each other’s names while dealing with new tactics, training and culture. The football will be dull and difficult to watch. The players won’t be easily identifiable or that well known to us.
It won’t be a team of Grimsby players, but players who just happen to be playing for Grimsby.
When Russell Slade says he’s a builder not a fixer, he’s lying. The smoke emanating from his fiery pants is clouding his sight and the inhalation is clearly affecting his judgment.
We aren’t just repeating mistakes from 2009/10 when we got relegated to non-league; we’re repeating mistakes that we made only last year.
We continue to learn nothing.