Dom Roman – @DomRoman
No blog last week as two games and a match preview interview was more than enough to keep this blog site editor busy. This means there’s plenty to discuss this week after another mixed…ok I mean familiar disappointing couple of weeks for the Gulls.
TT contributor Ben Currie predicted that the Oxford City and Slough Town challenges would give us a clearer view of TUFC and allow us to assess where we currently stand. The verdict is in and I won’t sugar-coat it we are very average at present, and not in a positive or fun way.
A good team would approach both games on the front foot and look to boss their supposedly weaker (and part time) opponents from the off. We failed to do that, as tepid first halves came and went with very few chances created, and performances levels dipped quickly to 2017-18 lows. Two matches, and two changes to 4 at the back seemed to galvanise mildly better responses after half time, but we are a long way off being a proper team at the moment – even in the NLS and that hurts.
Let’s talk Gary Owers. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to use the #OwersOut hashtag this season but I guess it was inevitable! I’m no fan of his for sure, but wanting United to win supersedes my own feelings about GO’s inadequacy as the current Torquay United manager every time. The manager is rightly already under pressure as United’s dithering and dull start frustrated the Yellow Army – who turned up in brilliant numbers again only to see their team produce very little.
What does Gary do well as a manager? Answer me that. #Owers Tactics – Tactically he has stubbornly refused to budge from 3-5-2 at the beginning of games. This means we have 5 defenders in games where attack should be his priority – the overlap is not available on the wings and even with 3 in midfield, we’re not exactly dominating possession. It’s all too negative and he should be asking for more attacking intent. 8 points from 5 games wouldn’t be so bad if we’d scored 7 or 8 and fans had seen entertaining end to end football to get them off their seats. Instead its boring and risk-averse football, making it very hard to keep the non die-hard fans interested.
In terms of his #OwersRecruitment I believe we have a squad with enough quality to be challenging, but attitude wise I’m not seeing the hunger and desire. Too many of these players are coming to United on the way down in their career; I’d have preferred two or three NLS/NLN guys with experience of the league and the total determination and grit to push on into the Conference. Maybe he could add some of this in the loan market, but at the moment the recruitment is looking very much iffy, especially as the target man we have required for ages has failed to arrive. A Sillsy type leader upfront would make all the difference to this team, I’ve no doubt about that.
Finally #OwersMotivation is my final Owers hashtag on this blog. By picking Brett Williams as captain he put himself in a bad position before a competitive ball had even been kicked. A captain should reflect the positive attitude of the manager and the team, by A) Being a consistent first team player who can be relied upon week after week and B) Being somebody who can inspire his colleagues to better. Brett is not playing well, but seems currently un-droppable as Owers chosen one – Asa Hall or Ryan Dickson would definitely be better options. That’s no disrespect to Brett really, he’s just not a captain and has never been captaincy material. The choice baffled me at the time and still does now.
Can the gentle Geordie energise these players? He’s got no proven assistant to help him and I just can’t see the squad responding to his team talks. Just watching his pre and post game interviews makes me dosy due to his total lack of charisma! Do they respect and fear him in equal amounts to battle and fight hard for 90 minutes? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, an assistant who could build relationship bridges with the players, freshen up the tactics and help keep them motivated during this long campaign would be ideal – Owers would surely love the help and I’m unsure why no appointment has been made. No offence to the deputising Shaun Taylor but he’s not the man for me.
The slow start cannot be totally blamed on Owers and of course the players have to stand up and take responsibility as always, but I feel like any half-decent manager would have us playing better and he’ll soon have been in the job for a year without making any of the improvements he promised on his arrival. The next few games sees the pressure firmly on his shoulders to deliver not only wins, but wins with style to coax the fans back to Plainmoor. Otherwise anger and frustration will rule and the #OwersOut hashtag will start trending on Twitter (ok maybe not!). Will Clarke/Harrop sack him if the wobbles continue? That is a discussion for another day.
United may not be settling very well in the NLS, but I’m starting to get my head around the division and network with other teams fans who have been very friendly. I think they think I’ll be patronising about their teams, their part-time capacity and small attendances, but that’s not the case at all. I don’t think United should be rolling over every team with ease and these guys will give us a scrap when TUFC come to town. Slough blogger Warren Carter did a great preview interview for us, interviewed me for his own blog – http://sloughtownsoapbox.blogspot.com/2018/08/the-torquay-tumble.html and also included TT stuff in the programme which was nice (see below). Call me old-fashioned but I still love buying programmes and see them as a part of every matchday. I just hope clubs keep the faith and keep producing them for a long time to come.
The next two games are totally winnable and anything less than six points would add to the lingering disappointment around Plainmoor. Hampton and Richmond visit on Saturday and a little bit of history will be made by TT as Rachel Malloch becomes the first female correspondent for the site. Rachel is always full of…opinions on Twitter!! And she will give an honest appraisal of the game using our tried and trusted TT headings. I’ve stepped away a bit from the match verdicts myself, as its nice to have different people’s judgements on the site and I’ll look forward to doing the odd one here or there as the season progresses. Just play 4 at the back, add width and give Andre Wright a chance from the start Gary, you know it makes sense!
The Bank Holiday Monday fixture is a decent one for the Yellow Army as we head to Evesham…to face Gloucester City! Gloucester’s attendance will roughly double with the Yellow Army about and I’m expecting to make this one myself. Due to family commitments #AwayDays have recently been sparse, and I’m looking forward to a nice day out, a decent drink or two and a decent performance (??). I believe TT Social Media mogul Luke Hunter will be there and penning the Match Verdict – his reports last year were almost all depressing ones, so I hope he can write about something positive for a change!
One thing I’d like to briefly mention is that the fans still need to get behind the players, and at the moment when things aren’t clicking this could make all the difference. Jamie Reid is not my favourite player as you may have guessed and is clearing struggling (along with Brett) to find some kind of form and confidence, making him an easy target at times. He does need to rise above it all and prove doubters wrong, but more encouragement from the Yellow Army could just spur him on to a goal or two. Unfortunately 6 years of under-achievement and an unpopular manager means frustrations bubble over very quickly on the terraces, and that is understandable. An enjoyable ‘winning’ season to boost morale cannot come soon enough.
The cutting edge in our attack desperately needs sharpening (3 in 5 is pathetic), but on the plus side some very good chances are being created and maybe on Saturday those chances will finally be taken. For all of Brett’s faults he must be getting a goal soon! Meanwhile at the other end the defence looks reasonably assured, with four clean sheets not to be sniffed at (even though far too many long balls were played yet again on Saturday…grrr!) and in goal young Alex Bass showed his own qualities on his first appearance at Slough. (The less said about George Essuman’s penalty challenge the better!). Also get well soon Jacob S who is out for a while as the TUFC injury jinx continues into 2018-19.
LAST WORD – Just stop erring on the side of caution lads, push forward in numbers like you mean it and give us two Bank Holiday x 90 minutes full of action and more importantly goals – we need and deserve it.
COME ON YOU YELLLLLOWS!!