The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

We are getting what we pay for

7 November 2018

"I'll be interested to see tomorrow's diary's take on tonight's game. I don't doubt the players' integrity or efforts, but let's be honest, whatever eleven we put out are not good enough to be competitive in the fourth division. Care to disagree?"

Be prepared for disappointment. As usual for a game I can't attend, Middle-Aged Diary followed last night's defeat by Mansfield on the various 21st-century equivalents of teletext. My thoughts are second-hand. But regrettably the match seems to have completely borne out what I wrote yesterday.

Last night, as against Crewe and Cambridge, we more or less matched our opponents for large stretches of the game. Then a couple of errors cost us. Just as, when we took three wins from four games before that, a few key moments went our way. We are losing, and occasionally winning, by fine margins. But it is no hard luck story that we are losing more than we win. We are getting what we are paying for, and what we are paying for is the wages of a team you would expect to be at or near the foot of the Football League.

It isn't all about money. The one player who is performing consistently above our level this season is James McKeown. We used to build the team on players like him: players who maybe needed persuading to come to Blundell Park but then became so much part of the local scene that leaving also became hard.

Good coaching also can compensate for some things. We are well organised when we don't have the ball and we often keep the ball quite well. We are not an easy team to beat. Unfortunately, we are not an easy team to lose to, either. The player we are lacking is the player who can act as a focal point and turn possession into a consistent goal threat, a player who can create and take chances.

Those players don't come on the cheap. You might be lucky enough to grow your own, but that takes time. We can dream great dreams of Ahkeem Rose and Brandon Buckley, but they are not short-term solutions. So we are reduced to hoping that a gamble might make good. One word of advice here. If a Harry Cardwell or a Louis Robles suddenly breaks through, don't offer them a long contract and then withdraw the offer. That must really piss players off.

Anyone blaming Michael Jolley for our current league position really isn't paying attention. And anyone saying that because he hasn't complained about his budget he must be happy with it really hasn't thought about the realities of someone trying to make their way in the game on a short-term contract.

The blame lies squarely with the board. Not because they aren't splashing their own cash, but because they remain unable to make effective use of the investments (not loans, benign or otherwise) we all of us make every time we buy tickets.

Up the Mariners. Down with the board.