Dom Roman – @DomRoman
Gary effing Johnson, crikey?!! That was my initial verdict this week when THE BIG NEWS broke. I gathered myself and wrote something more coherent (and less sweary) for @TORQUAYTALK, but to be honest I was buzzing! At Plainmoor we all promise ourselves that we won’t get carried away and set ourselves up for heartbreak, however this is Football – we shall do it anyway and bugger the consequences! It was even trending on Twitter for goodness sake…what a result.
Firstly let’s discuss the elephant who is no longer in the room! No sooner had the Herald Express reported that Gary Owers job was safe, than they were reporting his removal from the club. You have to chuckle and I’m sure Dave Thomas felt embarrassed enough without me chiming in on Twitter (but I did it anyway…). The paper no longer appears to have inside knowledge filtering from the club’s hierarchy, and their guesses…well they are as good as mine at the minute!
I actually heard that the axe had fallen all the way from Malaysia! Master Luuuke Hunter is on his travels over there and took much delight in messaging the TT boys first – the world is a small place these days isn’t it. I was only a couple of miles away in Living Coasts when the alert came through and had to resist the temptation to high five a penguin. The statement said that “sometimes even a perfect strategy fails” in regards to Gary’s tactical masterclass – and who said the TUFC top brass have no sense of humour!
A year in the job and 47 games, when only a pitiful 40 goals were scored by his team and the many recruited players failed to respond to his dull tactics. After the Chippenham debacle, Owers job had become untenable even for his mate Clarke Osborne and I believe Osborne’s associate George Edwards was there on Saturday to survey the wreckage (The HE report that George is running the day to day footballing affairs of the club…what exactly does Geoff Harrop do again, answers on a postcard?!) After the bluster of his arrival, Gary ended up delivering nothing but misery and despair to our club and I am frankly glad to see the back of him.
24 hours on and replacement done. It barely gave me time to speculate on who would arrive and I almost dismissed Gary Johnson under the ‘no chance’ category (almost!). I think a number of people could have done the job including Steve Tully, Chris Todd, Garry Hill and Jay Saunders, but the popular vote was Johnson – making it even more surprising we got our man. Meetings had obviously taken place already and the decision was ready to be signed/sealed – what a difference to the shambles of a year ago when Harrop led a merry dance of incompetence…before appointing the wrong man.
Gary brings to the club years of experience, numerous contacts, a CV of achievement both in non-league and league and proper knowhow of how to run a club successfully. For those reasons and more we should all feel very happy (most people did, see below). Listening to the HE podcast interview, Johnson comes across very well. A man confident because he has been there and done it before, a man who knows how to get people onside and the importance of connecting the fans to their team. I feel good that he will enthuse the players and inspire them to enjoy their football again – so far this season the squad look tight and tense. That has to change.
The fact that someone like Gary Johnson is buying into what the club can offer is certainly a feather in the cap of Mr Osborne. Gary would have surely had other chances to manage and could have easily bided his time this season to find one, but felt the TUFC job was worth the gamble on his part. Credit to Clarke for the appointment – I still do not trust him and his ownership of the club though – I assume most of the Yellow Army will feel the same. With him in charge, our future is always in the balance and the relationship between Johnson and GI will be an interesting one going forward. Gary will want backing to get new players for a start and will expect to get it.
Three games present themselves to the new gaffer this month, with a trip to Hungerford on Saturday followed a week later by Lymington Town in the Cup – then Woking on the 29th. The cup game is one I quickly dreaded when the draw was made and I fully expected us to struggle against the Wessex League team. I do wonder if the prospect of losing in the Cup and to Woking at the end of the month had hurried up the decision to part ways with Owers, they are important games in our season after all. Now the vibe will be positive for the team and supporters (who will no doubt turn up in bigger numbers), which can make such a difference. I reckon we’ll turn Hungerford over at the weekend to give Gary the start he wants, on the flipside I await the first #JohnsonOut tweet if we go 1-0 down!!
For the second time this season Andy Charles will be reporting back for TT and he’ll hope for a contrast from the last one – a dreadfully tame defeat to Oxford City. It will be fascinating to see how Johnson sets the team up and who he picks as captain, meaning there will be much to discuss from Bulpit Lane. TUFC is packed full of talking points as usual and we are right in the thick of it. I demanded a decent manager last Saturday in my TT Match Verdict and he’s arrived. Now can the new man alter the losing mentality that has blighted the club for years, steady the footballing ship from troubled waters and make us believe again – time will tell my friends, time will tell.