Dom Roman – @DomRoman
One game and one win, ‘Gary Johnson’s TUFC revolution’ has begun in earnest with a comfortable victory over Hungerford Town. ‘Hunger’ is a word that has been in short supply this season as United’s inept performances staggered along, but the seeds of improvement have already begun to take root and along with positive vibes from the Yellow Army – life supporting the Gulls suddenly feels a whole lot better!
It’s only one win against a poor team, but it’s a start. Gary Johnson’s handling of press duties has been very encouraging so far and seeing pics of the boys smiling at training is a stark contrast to their dour expressions under Owers. If the squad are actually enjoying life at United and looking forward to the challenge each day brings, then it should translate into better displays on the pitch. Keeping smiles and enthusiasm going when losses happen will be the eventual challenge, but I’m hopeful that this manager is up to the task.
Gary has been quick to talk about the mental preparation side and it’s an area that has been one of our (many) problems over the years. The ever-changing line-up in recent seasons have been constantly inhibited by their own negative thoughts and those stemming from bosses who didn’t know how to get the best out of them. Gary Owers got the lads fit, but with a negative mindset in place, performances suffered and the team often looked mentally unprepared for action, losing many games as opposition players imposed their will and got their rewards.
This has so often been the case at Plainmoor and has effected so many players young and old, experienced or inexperienced, in a negative way. If Gary can permanently alter the mindset, then he will be worth his weight in gold! I want to see United start games on the front foot, win 50-50s all over the park, whilst playing with freedom and expression. We are the only full-time team in this league and should be facing every team believing that three points is there for the taking – I believe the boss will work overtime to make that happen.
He has already talked gently about new arrivals, giving a little warning to existing players that they must step up and be counted. A couple more loan players could spice things up and give competition to places. He’ll hope to see more goals from the likes of Reidy, Williams and Ruairi – but the prospect of a bustling and physical centre forward arriving would be a real shot in the arm (I’ll keep mentioning this until it happens!). A few names have been thrown around, I’m excited that we might actually get one!
Tactically nobody moaned about Johnson playing 3-5-2 last weekend did they! The formation has been regularly mocked by the Yellow Army and even Owers had moved things around by the end of his tenure. But back it came with vengeance, as Ben Wynter slotted in at centre back and Opi Edwards was utilised as a very attacking right wing-back. Wynter is a player who has received more criticism than most this season and got some praise from TT reporter Andy Charles for doing a good job. Often players at Plainmoor are written off after a couple of bad performances and Ben has quickly been pigeon-holed as a bad signing, I hope he proves the doubters wrong.
Johnson’s version of 3-5-2 sounded much more offensive, with Edwards and Liam Davis pushed higher up the pitch as the Gulls pressed hard. Winning possession in the opposition half should be a priority and chances will be created with a more attacking philosophy. GJ knows Jake Andrews well and can see his best position is in the centre, whilst fellow midfielders Regis and Asa Hall responded admirably after awful displays against Chippenham. It’ll be interesting to see how Ryan Dickson is used once he returns from injury – a three of Andrews/Dickson/Hall would appear too lightweight for me and Regis may well keep his spot to balance things up.
The next test takes us to Wessex League Lymington Town. A cup tie that initially looked bleak and a likely banana skin, but has now generated positive Yellows anticipation with Johnson’s arrival and the BBC cameras making an unexpected entrance. The atmosphere will be buzzing I reckon and it could be a cracking game. Anything other than a United win would take us back down to earth with a bump and a slip up is not inconceivable. However, I feel the momentum shifting on our season and expect us to win by at least a couple of goals – not without the odd nervy moment mind, even when we were good, TUFC have rarely played well on TV! Who knows maybe even Brett Williams will break his duck for 2018-19? If anyone needs a goal it is him. Watch out for our Opposition interview with Lymington midfielder Charlie Hennan as we build up to Saturday’s big match.
One cup competition that won’t face us this season is the Devon Bowl. United decided to pull out of a match-up with Plymouth Parkway this week and concentrate on other matters. I think I’ve only ever been to one Devon Bowl fixture circa 2007 at St James Park, when I vaguely remember our physio scoring a goal as we took home the trophy. Yes it was a very serious evening all round! It’s a shame for the competition that the Gulls won’t enter, but with our injury worries again resurfacing this season and the youth busy with other pressing matters it’s the right decision – even if TT contributor Matty Hayward disagrees.
FINAL WORD – Well done to Chris Hogg and his TUFC Under-18s this week, as they ran out 6-0 winners in the Youth Cup. Nothing would please me more than young local talent sparkling again in the senior team and being roared on by the Yellow Army. Keep up the good work Chris and keep tagging TT in on Twitter, as we support every TUFC side going. Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin Danni Wyatt and the TULFC team have had a rough start to their campaign, losing the first two league fixtures as the newly assembled squad struggles to knit together. I hope that the ladies form picks up sooner rather than later and I’m sure new manager Jamie McInnes will work hard to find a winning formula.
Safe travels to those making the trip to Lymington and let’s end that FA Cup hoodoo in style, Come on You Yellows!