June 16, 2024

Grimsby Town central defenders Doug Tharme, Toby Mullarkey and Harvey Rodgers remain under contract at Blundell Park heading into the summer. But with the release of Niall Maher, the Mariners will require at least one replacement in that department for next season. Preferably, any reinforcements brought in by David Artell to bolster the backline will offer a bit of pace and composure to compliment his teammates – and former Hull City loanee Andy Smith would fit the bill.

The North East Lincolnshire outfit had a difficult 2023/24 season. Starting the campaign under Artell’s predecessor, Paul Hurst, the Mariners would have been hoping to progress further on the back of two successful years in league and cup. That didn’t materialise, however, as Grimsby ended up enduring a battle for EFL survival – something they only achieved with a victory over Swindon Town on the penultimate weekend.

Recruitment and strategic alignment issues are widely thought to be the main reason for those struggles, and it’s a subject that the club’s hierarchy has already addressed supporters about, putting plans in place as they look to ensure there’s no repeat of last summer’s errors.

Grimsby are looking to go down a more data-led path, and the collaboration between the recruitment department and the managerial and coaching side of this has to be in harmony for it to realistically succeed. It seems this wasn’t the case under the previous manager, who preferred a different method, adding players he knew and trusted, and while this had served him and the Mariners well before, it wasn’t the case on this occasion.

Paul Hurst was sacked in late October last year and replaced by Artell a month later. It’s fair to say it’s been a bumpy ride since, as the former Crewe boss looked to quickly implement a possession-based style his squad struggled to adapt to. After some heavy defeats, Artell rectified the situation by changing to a more pragmatic approach and a 3-5-2 system, which allowed the Mariners to grind out the results necessary to stay up.

The summer transfer window should see Artell and his coaching staff working closely with head of recruitment Joe Hutchinson to identify, target and acquire players to fit a certain model, guided by a mix of information gleaned from statistics and knowledge of how that could fit in to the model they’re looking to progress with. The ‘eye for a player’ element will likely still play an important role in recruitment, but it’s backed up and guided by numbers collected to gauge players’ potential effectiveness; a two-pronged, modern approach all involved hope will allow the Mariners to flourish moving forward.

Artell will be looking to add pace, power, quality and creativity over the coming weeks and months. A reliable, experienced goalkeeper is a must. Full-back areas are light in terms of numbers, wide attacking areas require significant strengthening, the engine room needs a touch of class and creativity, and Danny Rose needs suitable and varied support in attack to reduce Grimsby’s reliance on the former Northampton Town, Mansfield Town and Stevenage man for goals and threat.

Another crucial area for improvement is defensive solidity. The Mariners conceded 74 goals over their 46 League Two matches last season, and while 21 of those came in just a six-game spell at the beginning of the year, and formational and stylistic approaches have altered over the campaign, it’s a figure that David Artell will be keen to considerably reduce through 2024/25.

The aforementioned Mullarkey has adequate pace, while Doug Tharme and Harvey Rodgers are more no-frills in their defending. To best compliment them, a quick, technically competent centre-back able to read the game well and comfortable playing on the left-side would be ideal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *