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Cod Almighty | Diary

Diary - Tuesday 20 October 2009

20 October 2009

Was it because of Town's dreadful start to the season? Was it because John Fenty abandoned his carefully considered new policy of managerial stability on the back of one heated disagreement when Town lost at home to Rochdale the other day? No! The Diary can exclusively reveal today that the real reason for the sacking of Mike Newell was to promote the club's subscription web service Mariners Player. "TRY our exclusive interviews with chairman John Fenty and caretaker boss Neil Woods for FREE," implores the club's superb new official website. "What are John's thoughts the day after the club parted company with Mike Newell? Is there a timeframe to appoint a new manager? ...Click here for your free 14 day trial," begs the SNOS. Oh, go on then - there may be page after page of personal details to fill in, and you do have to give your credit card information even though the chairman's interview is part of a free trial, but finding out everything I can about the inner workings of GTFC is part of the Diary's job. Let's see then. What can the interview tell us about Deadly John (Con)'s thinking on the next steps for his crisis-riven club? "Error - The page you are trying to reach may have expired, or been moved. If you have followed a link from your bookmarks, please relocate the page and remember to update your bookmarks."

In the absence, then, of an accessible explanation from Mr Fenty, what has Newell to say as his name joins the now frankly ridiculous litter of managerial changes made by Town chairmen since 2000? The outgoing manager has, in fact, given a good account of himself in interviews with both Radio Humberside (official media partner of the 'McDermott For Manager' campaign) and the Grimsby Telegraph, where he says: "I would recommend the job to anyone in football - it's a good club to work for and the chairman is good to work for... It's a great club, the people there are superb and the fans have been patient." Without a shaky Mariners Player camera trained on Newell's face, though, it's hard to tell whether he's managing to keep it straight.

Deadly John (Con) spoke recently, of course, of players' bad attitudes as a "common denominator" in Town's recent decline - but fans are increasingly noting that the one constant, as the club has plunged from second division stability to the brink of non-League football in the blink of an eye, has been Councillor Fenty himself. As one member of the Cod Almighty team pointed out yesterday, GTFC have become "like a small picture of what the country will be like under Tory rule", adding: "Anyone who is thinking of voting Tory should be made to watch Town for a couple of years."

To an extent, then, it barely even matters any more who will succeed Newell, because of the common denominator in the chairman's office. Obviously, the Diary will offer unconditional support to whoever ends up getting the job - but one can't help thinking the first two candidates to be 'linked with' the vacancy would be little short of disastrous. Dean Windass can barely string together a coherent sentence, and Sir John McDermott may have been a great servant etc etc and so on, except when he nearly signed for Hull, but as endless examples have proven before him, this doesn't make a great tactician, coach, transfer dealer, motivator, or judge of a player. In particular, the Diary's mind rolls back to an interview Macca gave to this website in 2003 in which he asserted: "David Soames, who has just made his debut, and Joe Lightowler are two lads with great careers ahead of them, I think." Not that this sort of thing alone ought to count decisively against him, of course, but let's allow His Royal Macness to build up gradually to a job like this before we risk doing a Groves on the great man's reputation, eh?

So what do you lot reckon? "I think you are being unkind to Fenty," begins an email to the Diary from Phil Shorter, who nevertheless adds further damage to the chairman's reputation by pointing out that he "drives a BMW, not a Merc". How so, Phil? "I have heard frightening tales circulating in the Findus stand all season concerning Guinness, old pals' acts, cliques, player unrest (for a change), management refusal to take training, the list goes on and on and on. What is obvious is that the players are totally demotivated, not fit, some not interested. This is not a chairman-led problem - it is a manager-led problem. His body language has been awful since day one, and whilst he has some good contacts, with the right motivation and leadership things can be turned round - look at the changes at Barnsley in the last month. The chairman needs to be applauded, not criticised as Monday's Diary has - I thought Newell was going to be the best thing since sliced bread, as did most others, so it just shows doesn't it?"

Thanks for emailing, Phil. There's no need for us to debate the worth of rumours (although the frightening tales circulating the top right of the Pontoon are 4 per cent better than the ones in the Findus), and you may or may not have a case as far as some of Newell's alleged failings are concerned. What concerns the Diary as we look ahead, though, is who appointed this failed manager. Now, come on, you might say; the chairman couldn't have foreseen the way things would work out with Newell. Let's look at the bigger picture, then: who appointed Buckley III and Graham Rodger before Newell? Who failed to retain the only nearly-successful manager of the generous handful he's quickly got through so far? Now there's a pattern emerging. John Fenty, let us remember, has not left the building.

"So, it's that time of year again!" chimes Tom Carpenter, adding: "Just a suggestion. My Grandad always called my pet hamsters 'Fred' on the basis that they wouldn't live long enough for it to be worth his learning their names. I suggest that in future each successive Grimsby manager should be known as 'Mr Smith', as they last about the average lifespan for an overfed rodent. As well as preventing us having to learn their names, this would have the advantage of ensuring each new 'Mr Smith' can be judged purely on the calibre of football produced, and not on the basis of ephemera. Just a thought, and many thanks to Monday's Diary for sticking up for the-fans-in-the-dark." Thank you, Tom - an excellent suggestion made all the better by the fact that 'Smith' doesn't begin with 'L'.

Lastly today, a quick word for those of you who have obediently cultivated a hatred for Scunthorpe United because your weak minds have bought the nonsense that true support means despising the team from down the road and convincing yourself of their inferiority even though they're just the same as you. Look - you can't really hate Scunny, because they're just so cute! The plucky Irons, apparently, have gone to extraordinary lengths to mark an auspicious and momentous occasion by producing a special mug to commemorate, er, their league game tonight in the second division. It's against Newcastle so, I dunno, they've probably never played Newcastle before or something. Now isn't that just the most adorable thing you've ever heard? Bless!