Grimsby Town boss Michael Jolley has done a very good job since taking over at the League Two club 18 months ago. Steadily improving results and performances on the pitch and bringing together a somewhat disunited club along the way.
One of Jolley’s key modifications though was producing a pathway between the club’s youth teams and academy and the first-team set-up.
The likes of Akheem Rose, Harry Clifton, Mattie Pollock and Max Wright have all made the transition from academy graduates to first-team squad regulars under Jolley’s watch, given ample opportunities to showcase their talents in recent times.
It’s looking, however, like Max Wright’s – and perhaps that of the Mariners’ – chances are being a little limited by Jolley’s preferred 4-3-3 formation. Though there is no sign of frustration on the winger’s part, he must feel – as one of the only wide players in the squad – that his chances may be limited by the current, narrow way Jolley sets his side up.
Bringing in the big, powerful attributes of strikers James Hanson and Matt Green over the summer, it was clear Jolley wanted to address the lack of physicality in his side and add another dimension.
Wright may have felt his opportunity had come to be a key supply line to the frontmen – though the manager opted for a different approach, with full-backs playing long, diagonal passes into the strikers rather than wingers getting to the byline.
The benefits of this were clear as Grimsby’s more direct style brought 13 goals in the opening six games of this campaign as teams struggled to deal with Hanson’s aerial prowess and the Mariners’ ability to keep the ball in the danger area.
However, the goals have stopped flowing – just two in the last three games – has led to calls for a ‘plan b’, change of formation and a need for width.
Max Wright is an electric winger with great pace, trickery and engine. Like most wingers at League Two level, the youngster, perhaps, still needs to work on his final product and cross delivery but must surely now be an option to start in a wider midfield position and supply opportunities to the aforementioned Hanson from different areas, should Jolley look for a shift in setup to arrest recent results.
There is a feeling that Town have been ‘worked out’ and teams are learning how to counteract them. Supporters are now crying out for the Grimsby born wideman Wright to be given a run of games to give opposition teams something different to think about.
Wright has been mainly used as an impact substitute so far this season, his direct running causing defenders problems in the latter part of matches. Though with the chances now, worryingly, drying up for the Mariners, this could be the opportunity for Jolley to mix the style of play up and throw Wright in from the start, to pose different questions of the opposition.
From the winger’s point of view, while happy to contribute however his manager sees fit, Wright will be desperate and feel deserving of an opportunity to torment opposition full-back’s from the start of games, rather than fleeting substitute appearances.