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Monday, October 19, 2009

Mariners ship out Newell

It's becoming a familiar story.

Grimsby's decision to part company with manager Mike Newell
after a little over a year continues the struggling nature of the last few seasons at Blundell Park.

However, chairman John Fenty's claim that the decision was, rather than results based, determined by a complete breakdown in the relationship between manager and board, appears to throw the spotlight onto Newell himself.

The Lincolnshire club finished 22nd last season, only narrowly avoiding relegation from the Football League. Now, struggling in the drop-zone after 13 games of this season, Newell had appeared to have paid the price for the club's poor form.

The man who was credited with keeping the club up last season - it took them until November to even win a game - had failed to progress the club away from another battle against the drop.

However, it now appears to have been more a question of the character of Newell, a controversial figure in the past, than his record on the pitch.

The 44-year-old was dismissed by Luton Town in 2007 for criticising the lack of financial backing from the board. His record of winning the League One title with the Hatters and then achieving a 10th placed finish in the Championship counting for little.

Newell had previously blown the whistle on corruption in the game amid claims he had been offered bungs by football agents, and was also reprimanded for sexist remarks about a female referee during his time at the club.

His departure from the East Coast will further damage an off-field reputation which could begin to hamper further managerial opportunities. Newell is a loose cannon who, despite achieving results on the pitch, has proven himself a difficult man to work with.

As for Town themselves, fans must now be questioning whether their side's consistent underachieving and struggles is really rooted in the failure of managers, or whether problems at the club are deeper-rooted?

Newell's Grimsby reign lasted just over 12 months

Since successive relegations saw them drop down to the basement division in 2004, Grimsby have only once finished in the top half. Then, in 2006, Russell Slade engineered a promotion push that saw the club lose to Cheltenham in the play-off final.

Since his departure, three managers - Graham Rodger, Alan Buckley, and now Newell have all failed to get the club competing at the right end of the table. And this despite attendances consistently averaging between 4,000 and 5,000 - respectable crowds for League Two level.

Grimsby are not a club who are lacking in resources either, including being able to turn down a substantial offer for promising centre half Ryan Bennett from Peterborough during the summer.

Newell must accept some of the blame. The players who helped stave off the drop have been unable to take the club any further, and with five red cards already, indisicipline has been rife amongst the squad.

However, the fact a manager who has
proven his capabilities in the past with promotion at both Hartlepool and Luton has failed to turn around Grimsby's fortunes speaks volumes about the depth of the problems at the club.

And with Town once more staring demotion from the Football League in the face, their next managerial appointment needs to not only be the right one, but a long term one. Only stability can help these Mariners overcome their current stormy waters.


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