“No current player embodies the ups and downs, and inconsistency of the current United crop than Kalvin Kalala”
The Ed blogs about the latest from the world of Torquay United
Dom Roman – @DomRoman
“Youth is wasted on the young” apparently. Well in my case that was probably right but not for Torquay United, as the young bucks (average age 22ish) cruised to a 4-0 win at the weekend to banish the Eastleigh blues from the week before. For all the doubts that remain with our squad and the criticism that gets thrown around, the average age of this squad must be kept at the back of our minds. How many of these players have been regulars at this level or any level, and how many have already learnt their footballing trade? Very few, and the frustratingly synchronized record of Won 5, Drawn 4, Lost 5 displays this.
The more you grow as a footballer, the more you understand about managing your performance game by game. Working out how to get the best out of yourself and making the right decisions to enable your team to win – it’s what Gary Johnson is trying to instil in these players every week on the training field. Gaining this valuable knack for consistency could take time. After all, the quality is there. More talent than we’ve had for years and ability to ‘beat any team on our day’ – a classic football mid-table/plucky outsiders team phrase. With GJ’s stewardship it’s a phrase I hope gets phased out in the coming months to something more assertive. My gut instinct at the moment tells me this season could be a trial run for a more concerted push in 2020-21. We shall see..
No current player embodies the ups and downs, and inconsistency of the current United crop than Kalvin Kalala. Take the Dagenham and Stockport games as examples. I was seething at his performance against Daggers. Sloppy, careless and limp (I won’t go on) – typical that I’d be on match verdict duty to write about it (and give out a dreaded Dom 3!). One week on and a man transformed at Edgeley Park. Maybe chivvied up by a thorough kick up the ass by Gary and Aaron, or raising his game in front of a big crowd, or perhaps just waking up in the morning with a spring in his step! Kalvin dazzled and bemused the Hatters, picking up the ball deep and cutting through defenders. The link-up between KLK, Whits and Reidy killed the game off before half-time and reminded us just how valuable he can be.
Now if Kalvin wants to be a proper player, then he’ll have bottle last Saturday’s attitude and bring it out more often. I suppose the question is “How much do you want it?” – if he aspires to play higher up the footballing ladder the potential is there. I would never expect him to be absolutely amazing week after week, guys like that rarely are, even in the top leagues. But, he can always impact 90 minutes of football by working out avenues to shine, creating a chance or a moment that brings the crowd to our feet. If the match is going against you and the opposition is tough, don’t quit and cower – find a way to make an impression. If we are looking for keys to a promotion push, then this young lad could be it…no pressure Kalvin!
If he wants inspiration, then I suggest he look no further than the likes of Jamie Reid and Ben Whitfield. Ben has been tremendous since arriving, illustrating a truly professional aptitude and attitude for every game. Always endeavouring to find space and chase down defenders, total commitment for a cause – a crowd favourite and TT Player of the Month within a few weeks, now that’s impact! Meanwhile Reidy is just hungry! Hungry to close down the opposition, hungry to find the net and hungry to be the game winner for the Gulls. Nine goals and counting for no.19. We should all enjoy this level of excellence and revel in it – if there’s still any Reidy-doubters amongst the Yellow Army, then they are kidding themselves.
Inexperience has of course not been the only hindrance to our season so far – with the numerous injuries totally infuriating for all concerned. The boss has had to make more changes than he would wish, and the tactics have been jigged and re-jigged for every other fixture. At the moment I think we have to stick with one upfront. Jamie may struggle at times, but partnerships with Manny and Ruairi haven’t helped the team prosper and also left us short in midfield. At the back, four is definitely the way forward and I think we just stick to the five in behind Reidy and keep pushing for cohesion game by game. The best teams don’t tinker majorly with tactics too much and I would rather see us stick to the identity of 4-5-1, rather than panic by throwing on a striker at half time. Our reserve strikers just aren’t good enough.
It doesn’t mean Jamie has to be isolated. Jake Andrews is brilliant at getting in the box and snaffling a chance, whilst the afore-mentioned Whitfield has plenty of energy to move alongside the striker when the chance allows. Keep the 4-4-2 for a rainy day I say and let these young hearts run free! With Armani, Asa and Opi due to return at some point, the options will be there to make suitable changes – but let’s forget injuries for now and move onto the next match with confidence.
AFC Fylde represents the next test at Plainmoor and they got whipped on Tuesday by Barnet 4-0. Does that bode well for our chances? I’d say so, but my TT alumni seemed to disagree (but they are a disagreeable bunch)! Maybe the Coasters will be more up for it or maybe their confidence will be shot? In the unpredictable National League you never know and they do still possess Danny Rowe (that rhymes). Our form at Plainmoor has been patchy so far, often starting okay before letting the away team muscle their way into matters. I think with Kyle and Robbie’s partnership developing at the back, we can hopefully avoid any calamities in defence (far too many avoidable goals have been conceded this season), stand firm when Fylde take control for patches and with Reidy razor-sharp, finish our chances when they present themselves. In truth anything can happen with our form. The decision to start a TT prediction league in our most unpredictable season in years is making us all look like monkeys!
FINAL WORD: Don’t forget to check out the TT Podcast this week as the boys discuss the County triumph and look forward to Saturday (see below). The three amigos shoot from hip and are all about colourful opinions, making any journey to or from work a pleasure. We also have a couple of cracking interviews lined up for the site, as I await answers back. If you’re going to Notts County keep an eye out for us – a number of TT contributors are heading up for the day and we’re almost certainly friendly!! As far as the season goes, try not to panic at defeats – we will suffer them and there will be ensuing criticism in the aftermath. I’m not saying we’ll be in the play-offs come April, however we will also not be fighting off relegation. This exciting group will infuriate you at times as they throw away a lead, but they’ll also score goals that you’ll remember fondly for years. Enjoy the ride, remember just how lucky we are to have Gary Johnson and don’t write this Torquay United team off.
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