Michael Jolley held his second Q&A as Grimsby Town boss with Mariners Trust last night, as the Mariners prepare for tonight’s pre-season friendly with Sky Bet League One side Sunderland (7.30pm), before the League Two opener with Forest Green Rovers at Blundell Park on August 4.
Read the best bits from last night’s Q&A below, or re-watch it in full exclusively on our official YouTube channel.
How long will Elliott Whitehouse be out with injury, and how may that sad news affect your recruitment plans?
It’s incredibly sad for him and for us – we were very excited about Elliott. I think there were several clubs wanting to sign him, and we put a lot of energy into securing his signature so there’s no escaping the fact it is very disappointing. But this is football and these setbacks some along every so often, and it’s important for him and for us to overcome the setback as best we can. So for him, first and foremost, we need to support him and give him the best possible treatment and rehabilitation process that we can. And also psychologically because he’s got to get his head around the fact that the games are going to start and he’s not going to be involved at the start, so we’ll do all we can to support Elliott. In terms of a length of time, ACL injuries can vary but it is a serious injury and it is going to be a lengthy period of time before he’s able to play for us. It doesn’t really change our plans with recruitment – overall, we think we still have a strong midfield department so we’re not going to radically change the direction that we’re going in.
Do you plan on using mainly home-grown talent in your Town squad in the future?
We’ve got to be open-minded about the make-up of the squad, but if there’s an opportunity to involve our academy players and lads who are from Grimsby and this area, then that’s a great opportunity for us to take. We want to have Grimsby lads playing for Grimsby Town – I think it’s a natural process. Harry Clifton’s the obvious one at the moment – he’s making my life easier in respect of the way he works and the way he trains – he’s a very easy player to select. It’s up to our other academy players, and other lads from Grimsby, to step forward and show they can do what he’s started to do. So we would like to put Grimsby lads into the team, but they have to be good enough to help the team move forward.
Could you explain the new measures you’ve put in-place at Cheapside, and why you feel you needed them?
As a professional footballer, you spend the vast majority of your time at the training ground so one of my jobs is to make that environment as pleasant as possible for the players. There were probably a dozen or so small things, some bigger, that I felt if we tweaked and if we were able to improve then it just makes the overall player experience somewhat more positive so the players having their training kit washed every day would be a minimum requirement, and there are about 10 to 12 over little things like that. We’ve just tried making the experience more professional, smoother, and where people want to come to work every day, because we’re asking them to work extremely hard and if you give them a better environment to do it in then hopefully you should see some better results.
What would you say to fans still thinking about buying a season ticket?
We need your support. One of the reasons I was so attracted to Grimsby Town as a football club is it’s a club with great support, and it’s only at its peak when the supporters get behind it. So we’re going to do everything we can from where we sit, but we need the supporters to give us every conceivable support they can. And certainly those last five home matches last season, the team benefitted from the energy and support of the fans – Blundell Park was rocking. For all the games we had at the end of the season, the crowd was the 12th man so we certainly need that in this new season!
Is the lack of competitive friendlies a concern?
There is not a lack of competitive friendlies – tomorrow we’ve got a game against Sunderland, a team which was in the Championship last season, we’ve got another game next Tuesday against Doncaster Rovers, we’ve got another game at Gainsborough Trinity that weekend, and then we play Forest Green Rovers the following weekend, and we’ve obviously already had a warm-up game against Cleethorpes Town already. We wanted to get the right balance between the amount of physical training that we do, and also tactical training because we’re going to have to be adaptable and have a number of different strings to our bow this season, and pre-season is the best opportunity to put that work into the players. So we’ve been working hard on the training ground, as a team and staff, to get us to a place where we think we’re ready to go into the season, and the proof will be in the pudding on August 4 and beyond to see exactly where we’re at.
What is your take on the transfer window now? If you’re hired after a transfer window, you can only bring in out-of-contract players or free agents?
Timing is very important. My last job was in Sweden, and the Swedish season runs from the spring through to the end of the calendar year so the transfer window that they’re in at the moment is the mid-season transfer window, so it’s the equivalent to our January window. And, just as it’s difficult for British clubs to replace players in January, it’s difficult for Swedish clubs to replace players in the summer. So there are players that I would like to bring to Grimsby who are unavailable to us at the moment, but may become available to us in the future. So in some cases I might have to wait a year, or more, to try and recruit some of the players that I’d like to, which is frustrating and timing is an important part of it, but that’s just the game we’re in. I’m happy with the business that we’ve done so far – we’ve still got some to do, but I think we’re in pretty good shape at this point in the window.