The embattled Grimsby Town player-manager, Paul Groves, seems determined to defy his club's board of directors by continuing his dual role in spite of calls to hang up his boots.
In an extraordinary move, the Blundell Park board last week issued a statement that amounted to a public ultimatum for Groves. The board said: "Paul has a crucial decision to make - whether to continue as a player or to concentrate his efforts on management. We think that at this time the club requires a full-time manager. The present arrangement is not working." But Groves is ready to play against third-placed Bristol City today as the Mariners, relegated from the First Division last season, attempt to halt their slide towards the Third.
Groves, set to pick himself in midfield, said: "I'm enjoying playing, I always have done. I enjoy the challenge and the competitive side of it." Grimsby attempt to end a nine-match losing streak against an opponent with a record of seven consecutive victories, but Danny Wilson, the Bristol City manager, had words of encouragement for Groves, even if his own board has none. "It's very difficult for teams who come down," Wilson said. "People who don't really understand tip teams coming down to go straight back up. But it's a tough division to get out of and sometimes you just have to be grateful for finding your feet.
"Paul's transition into management has been tough, as it always is for player-managers. But he will work his socks off to make it work and I'm sure it will given time." The Robins, two points behind second-placed Queen's Park Rangers, but seven adrift of Plymouth, can hope that Brighton do them a favour at home to the leaders but it would be a surprise were QPR, who have signed the former Bristol Rovers and Reading striker Jamie Cureton, not to win at Chesterfield.
Huddersfield Town, who face Bristol Rovers away this afternoon, signalled their intention to make a serious bid for promotion from the Third Division last night by turning down a "substantial offer" from the Premiership's Blackburn Rovers for their leading scorer, Jonathan Stead. The Terriers have climbed from 10th to fifth with five wins in a row.
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