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Cod Almighty | Diary

And you can bring your dinner an' all

5 April 2019

Earlier this week there were reports of an "altercation" between manager Michael Jolley and top scorer Wes Thomas. Those reports – well, one single tweet from Radio Humberside, which was latched onto by the Grimsby Telegraph – suggested that the striker may have played his last game for the club.

Your West Yorkshire Diary notes that neither the original report nor the Telegraph's coverage of the same story were substantiated with any quotes from anyone involved at that time. And in yesterday's pre-match press conference Jolley neither confirmed nor denied any instance of an altercation and responded to Matt Dean’s pressing with a succession of forward defensive strokes that even the finest batsmen in test cricket would have been proud of.

My guess is that Jolley gave Thomas a ticking off and it didn't go down well. That's pretty much it. Yet it's been dramatised because, over the years, the media has loaded words like 'altercation' to conjure up images of fisticuffs outside nightclubs when, in reality, all that likely happened in this case was an argument – and they're pretty typical in football dressing rooms, I'd say.

There was probably no pushing and shoving; I’m fairly sure there wasn't a plate of chicken sandwiches involved; and, while we’re on the subject of food, I'd be incredibly surprised if Jolley's manner came anywhere close to that of John Sitton's, whose colourful language and choice of expressions left even me stunned. "And you can bring your dinner an' all." What the hell did he mean by that?

But an altercation fits the narrative and gets people clicking links, so why have a molehill when you can make a mountain? Strictly speaking, for it to be an altercation it has to occur in public, and since this event took place behind closed dressing room doors it hardly qualifies.

Having said all this, I think it’s widely accepted that we won’t see Thomas in a Town shirt again. Following the performance at Oldham, Jolley has been given good reason for giving some of our younger players a run in the side, and who can blame him.

One of those youngsters who was in line to feature tomorrow against Stevenage was Ahkeem Rose but, like his shirt at Oldham, his hamstring got torn and he's out. And if Jolley only wants to play those who are interested in being at the club beyond the summer, it'll be telling to see whether he starts Kristian Dennis. Otherwise it’s down to Charles Vernam (18 starts, 4 goals) and Harry Cardwell (9 starts, 1 goal) to see us through to the end of the season.

Goals, again, have been a real problem for us. Since switching to this 3-5-2 formation in January, the Mariners have scored just 11 in 13 games. Prior to that, we'd scored 22 in 13 games using 4-4-2. I'm not saying formations win games – and I'm certainly not averse to us using something other than 4-4-2 – but I was at Oldham last weekend and, while we looked well coached and capable of keeping possession, we looked confused every time we got into the final third. Take your top scorer and most creative midfielder out of the equation and the task doesn't get any easier.

Town have only met Saturday’s opponents Stevenage on five previous occasions. Our solitary victory was a comprehensive one, when Omar Bogle bagged a hat-trick in a 5-2 win. That was our first meeting, and it's been slim pickings since then. We've lost all three fixtures at Broadhall Way and the only other meeting at Blundell Park finished goalless. So at least we're unbeaten at home to them.

The Boro have an extremely slim chance of making the play-offs, so nothing but a win will keep those hopes alive. In reality, their best objective is for a top half finish because, like us, they've lost more games than they've won.

For us? Meh. The season is dead and the floodlights are going. But for Jolley, he won't get a better chance in his managerial career to bring through some youth players with absolutely no pressure on us getting results. The experience he can give them now will make them more viable options next season. It's also important for the next batch of talent to see that there is a clear path to the first team, so the benefit (in terms of results) might not be felt tomorrow, or before the summer, but in the seasons to come.

Nothing to play for? Think again. Get behind the lads tomorrow and UTM!