If wallpaper could speak it’d say ‘Hi, my name is Grimsby Town’.
We are in one hell of a rut.
At the start of December we were outside the League 2 play-offs on goal difference only, and today, seven games on, we’re sat 17th, having picked up just two points from a possible 21 while playing some of the most gut-grindingly boring, hoof-and-hope, chew-on-cotton-wool-and-scratch-your-nails-down-a-blackboard type of football seen at Blundell Park since… well, since manager Russell Slade was last here.
No one wanted Russell Slade back, except for one man. A man who thinks he knows best; a man who thinks throwing money at something will solve everything; a man who has overseen our most consistent, under-performing, lowest ebb-reaching spell in the club’s entire history.
Slade is a deeply unloved manager and so it was always going to be an uphill task for him to win over the fans when Fenty believed he should return to Cleethorpes last April.
‘Thanks for your efforts, Marcus, but you’ve fucked the squad up, unsettled our longest-serving players and none of us can really see what you’re trying to do tactically,’ Fenty might have said.
Scarily, he could easily say that to Slade today.
He then went on to not say: ‘We know you had a long-term plan, Marcus, but fuck that – I’ve heard my mate is available. I don’t care if you’ve just led us to victory at Blackpool.’
So Slade was swooped in. He’s had nine months at the helm now, and in that time he’s managed to turn us into a worse side than the one he inherited.
Firstly, by releasing some of our most loyal and creative players and buying very average replacements (and I’m putting that politely) and, secondly, by getting us to play some truly appalling football.
The football has been so terrible that I publicly declared on Twitter last weekend that I wasn’t going to pay to watch us again this season unless something changes.
Since May 2016 we’ve gone from a club that had won promotion back to the Football League with a young, up-and-coming manager and real momentum – backed by the kind of amazing support that can raise £110,000, just because it could – to this unrecognisable squad of complete misfits.
We’ve won nine league games this season and the general consensus among the fans is that only a couple of them have been enjoyable – our opening day win at Chesterfield, and a Tuesday night game at home to Swindon.
We might not be in the relegation zone but if you judged us solely on creativity, goal threat, entertainment and value for money then we’re well adrift at the bottom of the league.
And when Slade is on speaking terms with the local radio, he’s telling them after our most recent defeat that we need to go ‘back to basics’.
He’s been here for nine months, for Christ’s sake, and has signed no fewer than 15 players:
Jake Kean, Ben Killip, Nathan Clarke, Paul Dixon, Reece Hall-Johnson, Karleigh Osborne, Mitch Rose, Siriki Dembele, Diallang Jaiyesimi, Sam Kelly, Martyn Woolford, Harry Cardwell, JJ Hooper, Jamille Matt and Charles Vernam have all entered the building and, broadly speaking, done nothing.
He also offered new contracts to youth players Jack Keeble, Tom Sawyer, Harry Clifton and Max Wright who have (on account of never being picked) also done nothing,
This is without doubt Russell Slade’s squad. He built it, he got it to the verge of the play-offs, and so if he’s now suggesting that it isn’t good enough and needs to buy reinforcements after just sending our most gifted midfielder back to part-time football and benching our top scorer after ruining his confidence then, if I were the majority shareholder, I’d tell him to swivel.
We are at a crossroads here and you can bet your mortgage that we’ll choose the wrong direction.
We could stop giving Slade money and ask him, politely, to pull himself together and be a fucking manager.
Or, we could continue giving Slade money to buy more players, use more money to pay off the players he no longer wants – even if he signed them – and piss more money up the wall to increase those benign loans.
The reason Fenty has put so much of his own personal fortune into the club is to cover for the colossal amount of mistakes he and the board have made over the last 17 years.
We, the fans, didn’t make those decisions. We didn’t put us in financial hardship.
What put us there is a succession of poor managerial appointments, a succession of war chests for them to waste on poor signings, and absolutely no sign of a long term plan or philosophy that would help us achieve financial stability and self-sufficiency.
Backing Russell Slade with more finances, which the club publicly declared in a press release (I thought they did all their PR on the pitch?), will ultimately create more debt. Later this year Fenty will once again have to put his hand into his pocket and dig deep to keep the club afloat.
This vicious circle needs to be broken. Only the sale of Omar Bogle saved us from going further into Fenty’s debt last year, so unless we can keep on discovering his like, we’ll simply continue to be run by an individual who needs to accept that he’ll never get his benign loans back and should instead work on finding someone else who can plug the holes in this rapidly sinking ship.