The Fishy - Grimsby Town FC

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Finding Mr Right
Finding Mr Right

The Runners and Riders

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 27/02/2018 (Last updated: 02/03/2018)

WITH the days ticking on a appointment as the next Grimsby Manager could be imminent, or the board could be continuing with their "due diligence". There are five clear candidates from all walks of life, although John Fenty has indicated he would like a "hungry young manager", he may have to consider others too.

Here are the main runners and riders.

Michael Jolley - Odds 1/2

Michael Jolley has emerged from nowhere as the bookies favourite. He is currently manager of AFC Eskilstuna in the Swedish Premier Division, which is a bit off the beaten track, but so is Blundell Park. Jolley is 40 and has coached in this country only at Youth level - at Palace and then Burnley.

Jolley's background is unusual in that he never played professional football and also went to Cambridge University and has a degree in Economics and worked as a fixed-income trader in London and New York.

Michael Jolley took over as AFC Eskilstuna in June but was unable to stop them being relegated.

Young? Yes, Hungry? Yes, Risky? Yes

Grim Rob's Verdict: Jolley is a huge risk and his football credentials are very slim. However, he clearly is clever and may come over well in interviews, but has he done enough? Not for me!

Sol Campbell - Odds 3/1

Sol Campbell is well known as a top-flight footballer but has not played for 7 years. He has never managed a team and has no experience at League Two level other than 1 game with Notts County in 2009 when Sven-Göran Eriksson was briefly in charge.

Campbell is now 43. He lives in London and tried to run as a Conservative Candidate for the Mayor of London.

Young? Yes, Hungry? No, Risky? Yes

Grim Rob's Verdict: I don't think the job would suit Campbell at all. He's been out of the game too long and has no first-hand knowledge of football at League Two level. He's probably never been to Grimsby in his life!

John Askey - Odds 14/1

Askey spent his entire playing and management career at one club, Macclesfield. At 53 he's suddenly had a good season and attracted some attention where Macclesfield looking likely to win promotion this year. A year ago would he have been in the frame? Two years ago? Unlikely

If you look at figures he's got a 43% win rate with Macc (who are quite a big club at the level) in the Conference over quite a long period. Paul Hurst managed nearly 50% (and that wasn't deemed good enough by many Grimsby supporters).

Young? No, Hungry? No, Risky? No

Grim Rob's Verdict: Personally, I would look elsewhere and I don't think he fits the "hungry young manager" criterion. But he's certain a fairly safe pair of hands and we could do worse. His knowledge of non-league may be good for picking the best players for next season's squad.

Paul Wilkinson- Odds 14/1

Wilkinson was a Grimsby legend as a player in the 80s, although he didn't stay at Blundell Park for long, just two seasons which at the time wasn't long. That's because Everton, who were one of the top sides at the time, came in for the young Grimbarian. He won a Championship medal at Goodison under Howard Kendell and then played under Brian Clough at Forest. He gradually worked his way down the league and has coached at various clubs, but never been a manager, despite spending nearly 40 years in the game, and he now is 53.

Young? No, Hungry? Yes, Risky? Yes

Grim Rob's Verdict: Wilkinson has the advantage of knowing the players and will have chosen some of them in the first place. However, he has failed to get the best out of them and there is little suggestion in the two games to date of a major turnaround. If we had a few points more he would be a good continuity candidate to the end of the season, but it's too big a risk to take.

Robbie Stockdale - Odds 16/1

Robbie Stockdale ended his playing career at Grimsby and played entirely in the North at Boro, Rotherham and Hull. He's from Redcar and is 38. Stockdale has been Youth Team coach at Sunderland since 2012, and prior to that, he was Youth Team Coach at Blundell Park. So he's well known to the GTFC board who do have a habit of employing those who have previously been at the club.

Neil Woods, Stuart Watkiss, Graham Rodger and Alan Buckley, all former managers, are still employed by the club as coaches of younger players. Wilkinson has been Reserve Team Coach in a previous spell, and physio Dave Moore also used to play for the club. Even former boss Russell Slade was in his second spell and some fans would like to see Alan Buckley return for his fourth spell!

Young? Yes, Hungry? Yes, Risky? Yes

Grim Rob's Verdict: Robbie would certainly follow the pattern of returning to the Grimsby family, but there's nothing to suggest he could pick up the reigns in League Two with any success


None of the five names stand out to me I am afraid, and I wasn't enamoured with Phil Brown either. I'd like to see a younger proven manager from non-league more in the Marcus Bignott mould. That's been where the club have found their best managers. Alan Buckley, Russell Slade and Paul Hurst all came from non-league when they first arrived at Blundell Park. Assuming we stay up this year a large part of the job is one of rebuilding, so I'd be looking for a candidate who knows the pool of players we are likely to sign. Only John Askey fits the bill, as Wilkinson has not proved a success at signings.

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