United’s haul of 10 points from 12 from October has seen them climb steadily up the table as strong and assured performances have been complemented by some excellent and very watchable football.
The next test for the Blues is the trip to face the Mariners on Saturday afternoon for what will be another tough test.
Looking ahead to the game, manager Chris Beech said: “I’ve read Ian Holloway’s interviews and he’s talking about changing shape and formation, and things like that, following their disappointment against Harrogate on Tuesday.
“He’s a master at what he does, and he’ll use that to galvanise his players and they’ll all want to play for him. We’ll have to be aware of that.
“With Ian, he’s that good at what he does, I want to play for him! He resonates with his public, relates to being brought up in a council house, it will be hard sociably for him, he’s very good in the public domain, in supermarkets and schools, these things you can’t do at the moment.”
“I just have so much respect for him,” he added. “He’s a master of psychology, he’s managed nine or ten clubs, I was born in Blackpool, brought up in Fleetwood. He did ever so well for Blackpool dealing with the Oyston family, getting in the Premier League.
“What a journey that was, it was just an orange army everywhere. To be going up against him on Saturday I’m quite honoured actually. But in terms of what he’ll try and do, he’ll turn it into some sort of backs-against-the-wall situation and his players will want to fight.
“He has that kind of affect that if they’ve got one leg they’ll still go over the trench with him and try their best. That’s the sort of person he is.”
“It’ll be difficult to know what he’ll do with the team because he has good players who can adapt,” he commented. “He was so successful with a 4-3-3 at Blackpool, Ian will tell you, he’s managed thousands of games, players make good managers, and he had Charlie Adam quarterbacking it, Gary Taylor-Fletcher chesting and heading everything, Brett Ormerod on the left coming inside scoring goals for fun, Alex Baptiste in his prime, Matty Gilks in net … what a great team he had.
“Whether he changes shape or not, we’ll know after five minutes if he does, we’ve got to concentrate on what we’re doing and to the best of our abilities try to replicate it and nullify it.”
On previous meetings with the Grimsby boss, he told us: “I think I faced him as a player. His beloved Bristol Rovers, he was player-manager, but I’ve never really come across him properly which is amazing, really, on coaching seminars or courses.
“But being born in Blackpool, I know what he did for that club and have the utmost respect for him.”
This fixture, of course, was the one we lost at the start of the pandemic when football, along with the rest of the country, went into an enforced lockdown.
“That was strange, that,” he admitted. “That’s when the world changed to what we know it is now. I remember we were training at Penrith on the 4G.
“The weather was that bad, we’d had the floods, and the training ground was 10ft under water. We got the call that the game might possibly be off, but nobody was sure what was happening. It was very strange.
“But, with Harry [Kewell] being isolated on Tuesday, it shows just how real all of this still is. It’s definitely getting closer to me, different family members and schools, so we have to look after ourselves.
“What I always hear a lot about, and it’s a different subject altogether, but I know people who’ve got a test, not tested themselves, but then got the text to say they’ve got the virus. Something not quite right is going on, but all we can do is look after ourselves and try to keep it out of the building.”
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