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Diary - Thursday 24 February 2011

24 February 2011

"If we didn't believe in what Neil Woods was doing, we would make a change but that's not the case."
- John Fenty, Grimsby Telegraph, 22 February 2011

"Grimsby Town Football Club have announced that, with great regret, Neil Woods has been relieved of his duties as first team manager."
- official website of Grimsby Town Football Club, 23 February 2011

Do you remember Newell's sacking...?

"The sacking, of course, follows the same contradictory pattern as that of Alan Buckley one year ago, when Fenty's statement of support for the manager after a Saturday game was shown to be utterly hollow when the chairman dismissed him barely 48 hours later. In a very real way, then, the identity of Newell's successor doesn't matter a toss. Why? Because it would clearly take even the best available manager more than a year to turn round the incompetence and culture of failure that now permeate the club from top to bottom. And when, towards the end of 2010, the new boss has not achieved this, Deadly John (Con) will presumably be unable to resist his itchy trigger finger once again."
- the Diary, Cod Almighty, 19 October 2009

So yes, Fenty strikes again, if slightly later than predicted. Another manager sacked without completing a full season, having been backed by the chairman about five minutes before, same as Buckley, same as Newell. Fenty has now completely blown it. Your Part-Time Diary recommends a read of Pat Bell's excellent take, published on Cod Almighty earlier today, on Fenty's latest sacking.

So Fenty threw in his seasonal pep talk before the Forest Green game, always a bad sign for whoever happens to be in charge of Grimsby that season. It feels like Woods was always destined to become the next scapegoat, as the Fenty axe has been hanging over him since he began his 16-month spell in charge. I always felt Fenty undermined Woods: his backing always felt hollow. Whenever they did those joint fans' forum jobs on the webcam, it seemed like Woods was the assistant, the better man, with the brains but none of the power. You can see him look at Fenty almost with raised eyebrows. Maybe Woods had about as much faith as the rest of us in Deadly John (Topcon).

Woods came in with an objective of restoring discipline, after everything with the likes of Barry 'Fucking' Conlon, Martin Butler and Nathan Jarman. And he did this. He has turned the club around, he has made people want to play for us, these were his players. However, after all Woods has done, there are still issues: Atkinson and Bore were dropped for his last game in charge due in part to their contract talks stalling. Non-football issues have to stop fucking up performances and having a negative impact on this club. Everything wrong about this club stems from the Fenty side. It's not the players or the management: it's higher than that. The shit travels downwards through Blundell Park.

The last three games saw two draws at home against struggling sides and a comprehensive defeat at the side occupying the play-off place we want. This isn't good enough. Those were the games Town needed to perform in, to play like they did after Christmas in that two-game purple patch we had. But is a rallying cry from the chairman the way to achieve this? Or does it serve to undermine the management? Woods was trying, and we were good - granted, it was for nowhere near long enough, half an hour here and there, a couple of games, and always in training apparently - but we were so much better than last year. We were moving forward. Does that earn him the sack? Even Fenty said we would have taken mid-table at the start of the season. But then because he's put some money in he expects better, and while he is the man putting the money he will always exert this ridiculous amount of power over the club. It's a tyrannical regime.

The board will meet next week to discuss the appointment of a new manager and, most importantly, "to determine if there is a mindset for a change of chairman". Is this the end of John Fenty's reign of relegations? This is the key decision to make in the next few weeks - a decision that will shape the future of the club. Fenty's failures dwarf those of Woods. His appalling record of hiring and firing managers is just one example. The thing that bothers me most about Fenty is that we see too much of him. I don't want to see the chairman calling on the players to up their game. I don't want to see him in press conferences. I don't want to hear about him being on the team bus. And I don't want to hear him answering questions about fucking flasks. I want to hear from him once a year at the AGM; I want him to run the business side of the club because that's what chairmen are meant to do. We need a manager who can manage everything on the playing side and a chairman who stays in the boardroom. Please.

I haven't got a fucking clue how any of this is going to turn out. I don't know if history is going to repeat itself a fourth time. This is the best we could have hoped for in our first season in the Conference and Woods needed time to build for next season, to build a proper club. He was learning. He put together a good team, he found a proper goalscoring striker. Everyone can see the value of stability, and sacking managers has been spectacularly bad for the club - especially with Fenty being allowed to pick his next victim each time. The club has again made huge changes mid-season - and surely the buck must stop with Fenty this time.

We all remember Woods' appointment...

"Through no fault of his own, Neil Woods will fail, just as Gary Brabin, Gerry Taggart, John McDermott, Russell Slade and Lee Richardson would all have failed. He may fail honourably; he may fail miserably; but he will fail. Why? Because, as you know, as the Diary knows, and as even John Fenty (Con) might suspect, a fundamental overhaul is needed of every aspect of Grimsby Town Football Club."
- the Diary, Cod Almighty, 24 November 2009