Gutless. Match report: Grimsby 0-1 Carlisle

The only thing worse than Grimsby Town’s current predicament is that supermarkets are already playing Christmas songs. That’s not on.

Forget today’s 1-0 defeat to Carlisle at Blundell Park. It’s been a shambolic week off the field as Honest John did that thing that all self-respecting professionals do when times get tough and splurged a big steaming pile of childish passive-aggressive bullshit on a messageboard forum because some fans dared to make the outlandish claim that his time in charge of our football club has been anything less than rosy.

Of course, nothing is as rosy as those heavily-tinted specs Fenty’s wearing these days. You know the ones – they make you look at Paul Hurst and think, ‘Wow, he’s a bit dour and Yorkshire and all that. I don’t care if he runs the club sensibly and has a long-term vision for the club that requires a few adjustments here and there – he never invited me to his wedding. What do you mean he didn’t know me when he got married?’

They’re also the specs that make you look at Russell Slade and not see a massive bald-headed football dinosaur looking straight back at you.

Russ shuffled his pack today but it made no difference – we still can’t score. At several points it seemed Carlisle let us walk right through them but Scott Vernon is having such a crisis of confidence right now that he’s not even sure he exists. Funnily enough it’s a crisis of confidence that has trundled on since the day he signed his two-year deal with us.

I refuse to boo any player that represents the Mariners but I won’t dress this up on here. He may as well have not played today, such was his contribution to the match.

We’re so bad right now that we’ve started dragging the talented Siriki Dembele down to our level.

On first half chances alone, Town deserved to be in front. On general play, 0-0 was a fair scoreline. We worked their keeper a bit, but we didn’t take what chances fell our way. Then, with 20 minutes to go, the only player in the division older than our back line headed home a simple cross and from then on we went to pieces.

Rumours that Slade has put in a call to see if he can sign Clint Hill are unsubstantiated, but that shouldn’t stop Fenty from publishing an overly-aggressive and badly-worded press statement on the Grimsby Town website to refute the rumour, and then blame Radio Humberside’s Matt Dean for it.

I won’t bother going into any details about the match because there really isn’t any point. We lost at home to a run-of-the-mill mid-table side without scoring. What else do you really need to know?

We look entirely pedestrian. We can’t expect to win games if we can’t score, but what troubles me more is the lack of fight and passion. However, those concerns pale into insignificance against the backdrop of John Fenty – the non-chairman of our proud football club who uses pseudonyms rather than his real name to patrol social media and challenge fans who don’t agree with him.

No one is perfect, but his pure pig-headedness and refusal to look facts in the face is startling. Rather than own up to just some of the many horrible decisions he’s made, he’d prefer to challenge fans to ’10 rounds’.

He gift-wrapped the best manager this club’s had in the last 20 years and delivered him to Shrewsbury. He didn’t come out in support of the fans who were unfairly treated at Stevenage. He voted for the Checkatrade Trophy format that none of us wanted. He employs staff who accuse our fans of being bullies. He allegedly told some of them to fuck off at Accrington. He won’t tell us how long Slade’s contract is for.

And, despite all this – and more (believe me, there’s so much more) – he really does believe he’s open and honest.

John Fenty claiming he’s open and honest is like Shane MacGowan claiming he’s always enoyed a full set of pearly white teeth.

I’m not a fan of Russell Slade, but I don’t think sacking him will do any good because the man responsible for finding his replacement is the most untrustworthy thing at this football club. His track record in managerial appointments is abysmal.

Grimsby Town have gone from having a young, up-and-coming manager at the helm, who signed up-and-coming players who wanted to prove they had a career in the Football League, to having an older manager who signs older players who have nothing to prove to anyone. They’ve enjoyed a Football League career and they’re ready to bow out with a nice, juicy contract from the suckers at Blundell Park. What do they care if we fall back into the abyss? Their futures aren’t on the line.

If today’s defeat to Carlisle showed anything, it’s that we’re repeating the same mistakes that got us into non-league in the first place. The squad that got us promoted into League 2 just 18 months ago would wipe the floor with this lot.

For the good of the club, John Fenty, you have to step aside and let someone else steer the ship. You are all at sea.

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It’s Groundhog Day

When the majority shareholder of your beloved football club chooses the cringeworthy username ‘getyourfactsright’ to sporadically spurt messages out on an independent forum (that, yes, is often teaming with cyniscim, flaky facts and unsubstantiated rumours) then you know all is not well in the Grimsby Town boardroom.

Rumours only exist when all of the facts are not there to work with. The topic that Mr Fenty chose to clarify on the Fishy Forum on this occasion was around the transfer of a number of shares that happened many years ago.

Ok, it’s a free country. If he wants to start a debate, or add fuel to an existing one, on an independent message board, then that’s his choice.

Personally speaking, I find it embarrassing.

There are fans who appreciate his honesty, and the effort he makes to reach out to us on the Fishy. After all, he doesn’t have to do it.

Well, yes he does. Because he makes such cock-ups of the original situations that he feels the need to clean up his mess, often years later.

You see, we need to ‘get our facts right’ because we got them wrong. And why did we get them wrong? Well, because he didn’t give us all the facts in the first place.

A little honesty up front goes a long, long way.

The departure of Paul Hurst rankles with me massively. Without any clarification from Fenty, we’re simply left to wonder why the man who sounded so committed to our future after our victory at Wembley then left for Shrewsbury just a few months later.

I’m not entirely sure why Marcus Bignot was sacked, either. The reasons I’ve heard are woolly to say the least. And if it was to do with signing all those midfielders, and it creating discontent within the squad, who sanctioned those signings?

I don’t think I heard the honest truth about the way Russell Slade was approached and appointed, either – particularly around what happened when.

Yesterday I tweeted this:

When all seemed lost in April 2010 (and it was, at half time at Accrington, when we were 2-0 down and staring into the abyss) we somehow rallied and recovered to win 3-2, and keep our slender hopes of survival alive.

We all know how that story ended, but the point is this – as bad as we were (and we were pretty bad) I was willing to fork out a fair few quid every week and travel wherever I needed to give my football club the backing it needed to have a chance of staying in the Football League.

After spending six years in the National League, travelling to all sorts of places I’d never been before, and giving Hurst my absolute backing (no matter how much abuse it brought me on the Fishy) I thought the reward would be more than this.

Three managers in one season. Reviving WD40’s company by relentlessly greasing the hinges on Blundell Park’s revolving door as players come and go.

The sale of Bogle. The departure of Disley. The criminal release of Pearson.

The squad is full of unfamiliar players. We’ve abandoned everything we did right in non-league – signing young, up-and-coming players, backing an up-and-coming manager who is now more than proving his worth in the league above.

Where we once showed patience with Hurst, we showed none to Bignot.

The football is dull. The discipline is questionable. The recruitment looks untidy and worryingly bang average. I’m not sure what we have within our squad that gives me any excitement for the future – apart from the likes of Jamey Osborne and Sam Jones, who were both recruited by Bignot.

Harry Clifton will continue to be ignored. Max Wright will probably be at Boston by the end of the season.

I didn’t go to Newport yesterday. Why would I? All those miles to travel, all that money it would’ve cost me. And for what?

Huge respect for the fans that went. They deserved far more than what they got. Plenty will continue to spend their money and stand by the team, even when it’s playing dull football going nowhere fast.

Fenty is a fan of the club. He’s a successful businessman. But that’s about as far as it goes. Just when I thought we’d learned lessons from being in non-league, we return to find that we’ve actually learnt none.

If we continue to make the same mistakes, and be led by the same person who’ll continue to make those mistakes then, well, you know as well as I do where that’ll see us end up.

And I don’t want to go there again.

For the first time in my life I feel like I don’t want to go to another Grimsby match all season. We’ve been worse, but it’s not just about the quality of football.

It’s about waking up every Saturday morning and it feeling like Groundhog Day.

Playing with purpose. Match report: Grimsby 4-2 Yeovil

“They seem to know what they’re doing more than usual,” said my dad, barely three minutes into the game.

My dad’s last game was the 2-1 home defeat to Wycombe – as was mine – and the contrast was clear from kick-off. Who knew that 4-4-2 could work? We looked organised, the players played with confidence, and we were as creative and incisive as I’ve seen us all season.

Then we won a penalty, which Sam Jones tucked away with the only kind of aplomb you know, and Chris Clements soon doubled our lead with an effort that deserved to find the net based solely on the neat bit of teeing up he did for himself immediately before the strike.

Town, being Town, let the Glovers back in it way too early in the second half. Under Bignot we’d have turned to the person sat next to us and pulled a sort of constipated face in anticipation of a nervy last 40 minutes, in which we’d have scored a last-minute own goal, gave away a silly penalty or allowed the referee to take all our playing abilities out of the equation and intervened with an uncontrollably bad decision to make the very angry bloke at the back of the main stand completely lose his shit and put his fist through the corrugated steel behind him.

But this was a team that had already showed enough to suggest that we wouldn’t crumble.

Despite Scott Vernon either being unavailable or overlooked in the game against Cambridge, I always felt there would be a place for him in Slade’s team. The goal today helped, of course – even if it came off his back, a yard out, without him even knowing.

Vernon’s the experienced front man, with the strength and intelligence to make our manager weak at the knees. He’s our new Lump, and every Slade team needs a Lump. He combined really well with Sam Jones, and they worked tirelessly as a front pair.

“Jamey’s goal was Reddy-esque,” mumbled Dale from the back of the room in the post-match press conference. It was. Osborne ran onto a clearance from a Yeovil free kick and suddenly found himself in the clear before he’d even broken out of his own half. At the crucial moment, just outside the area, he stepped across and in front of the only Glover chasing him back before taking the ball on and caressing it into the far corner as if he’d been doing it all his career.

No more sweating for us.

Well, you say that, but I wasn’t completely convinced we’d see things out comfortably after Yeovil smashed in a second because my mate Pete said before the game that with the pressure off for both sides it’d would either be a tepid affair or end 4-4. For a moment that second prediction of his was about to be played out.

But despite scoring two goals, the visitors never really looked like they’d get anything from the game. In fact the two goals flattered them, while five or six wouldn’t have flattered us.

There was just enough time left for me to praise the referee – seconds before he ignored what I felt was a pretty nailed-on penalty when Vose was brought down in the area. I’d have liked to have seen us hit five to wipe out the memory of us conceding that many at Crewe in February.

So even when we play with two central midfielders as wingers in a 4-4-2 we’re good enough to see off average teams in League 2. Osborne showed craft and skill and was understandably named man of the match for his goal, assist and general marauding down the left, while forgotten man James Berrett has played himself back into contention for next season.

I haven’t mentioned Disley because that’s exactly what he does. He glided through the game, bringing calmness in the centre and setting the stage for others to perform. It was vintage Dis.

There was some good football played in the final third, too. And while we weren’t afraid to lump it from the back, the punts forward just had a lower trajectory and more of a purpose. They seemed to find Vernon and Jones more easily, and it would often stick. I dunno, it was almost like we had a plan or something.

It was a thoroughly dominant performance – although I’m not sure how much Yeovil, wearing a strip inspired by what you’d typically find in a doorway down a deserted back alley in Manchester at 3am on Sunday morning, contributed to our success because they were pretty awful considering they technically had something to play for – as did we, of course.

Even now, the play-offs aren’t mathematically out of the question with two games to play.