“The failure to find an experienced CB and a proper striker in the summer is haunting us”
The Ed blogs about the latest from the world of Torquay United
Dom Roman – @DomRoman
TO BE OR NOT TO BE
“Now is the winter of our discontent” (Richard lll) – you know events are getting hairy when I start quoting Shakespeare. After an FA Trophy weekend of backslapping, congratulating and copious use of the phrase – ‘confidence boosting’, it was back down to the National League earth with a bang on Saturday. Let’s not sugar-coat it, at the moment we are right in the s##t.
Chesterfield FC came to Plainmoor low on confidence and deep in the relegation mire. But also in their possession was a simple game-plan – make hay down the flanks, win set pieces and make sure you put decent crosses into the box. In the end that’s all it took to unravel the defensive shambles that is currently Torquay United. 46 goals conceded in 26 matches, give your heads a wobble young lads. Out of those 46 goals, how many were totally avoidable and how many were scored by headers? I haven’t got time to figure that out, but it is a lot.
Conceding a goal after 50 seconds is just about unforgiveable. No pressure on the winger, time to pick out a man back post and bang, 1-0 down before we’d barely had time to exchange pleasantries on Bristow’s! After that it was all us, territorially we dominated but without Reidy there’s no cutting edge. Saikou unable to cope without a partner and straying too far away from the penalty area just to get involved, no-one else able to take aim and test the goalkeeper. Those enjoyable pre-match pints seeped away as more agonising minutes ticked on.
OH YES HE DID?
Now the sending off was a total mystery to all. Play had moved on, a defender received treatment but two or three minutes had elapsed before Saikou received his red card. The referee clearly hadn’t seen anything but if the linesman had, why didn’t he flag earlier? The officials taking panto season too seriously I think! Did SJ elbow someone…oh yes he did…oh no he didn’t…? No appeal planned from the club, so SJ seems guilty as charged. Let’s not pretend the sending off turned the game, but dropping down to ten men our chances evaporated much like sales of the latest kit. I was that despondent I bought an over-priced burger from the catering team, finding solace in basic junk food as another defeat loomed.
Two more headers in the second half finished the game. It’s not like we didn’t try on the afternoon. There was endeavour around the park but physically we appear weak and vulnerable, and the centre back partnership of Cam and Niate is no better than Cam and Cundy. No leadership at one end of the park, no bite in midfield and no threat upfront. No Reidy…no Plainmoor party. Gary Johnson’s post-match comment of “We do not currently look like men” is about as scathing as you can get and his body language was understandably disconsolate. Six NL defeats on the bounce and difficult to see where our next win is coming from. Merry Christmas Yellow Army!
I suppose our weaknesses have been apparent since August, but by scoring goals for fun we had papered over the cracks. Not now. There’s no doubting that Gary Johnson has brought in good players in the form of Armani Little, Ben Whitfield and Jake Andrews, but the failure to find an experienced centre back and a proper striker in the summer is haunting us. The squad lack the bite to engage in an arm-wrestle with the opposition and if we concede the first goal, the majority of the time we end up with nil points on the board. Finding those imposing players who can balance this soft looking squad in January will be huge and I am sure that Gary Johnson is surveying his contacts list as we speak. The season needs saving…we’re holding out for heroes.
For the time being we have to make the best of what we’ve got and move onto Yeovil. The Glovers are not exactly tearing up the division. Three draws and two wins in the last five, but that’s enough to place them 2nd in a league where unpredictable results are almost predictable. They’ve only scored one more than us, but shipped 15 less. If ever there was a time for United to rediscover their mojo this is it. A lot depends on whether Jamie Reid returns. Yeovil have their main striker Rhys Murphy fit and firing, and no doubt licking his lips at the chance to face United at the moment. We need our best player doing the same. Currently it feels like a forlorn hope and more than a bit of fortune will have to swing our way – a red card, a debatable penalty or a deflected goal perhaps…anything to turn this wretched run around and provide us with cheer.
TorquayTalk will be there in force and mostly in the standing area (Ben Currie has taken the soft option of seating), so feel free to say hello and even criticise our ratings if you wish…keep it civil mind!! The only saving grace of recent games is the pre-match social, where we generally meet to have a pint and put the TUFC world to rest. Saturday was no different and provided the highlight of the afternoon seeing the likes of Rachel Malloch, Jonny Jones and the pod posse…before the football spoiled matters. Such is life as a Torquay United supporter. When we become bad, we do it properly – no halfway house at Plainmoor.
This is the time for Gary Johnson to prove he is the no.1 gaffer in the National League. Criticism of the boss has been minimal during this run and the goodwill from last season has deservedly bought him time (check out our Twitter poll below). But you have to question the merit of recent signings like Bansal-McNulty, Nemane, Medford-Smith and Lewington; the treatment of Ruairi Keating – a player who will bring fight when we badly need it; loaning out Ryan Dickson when he could do a job at left back and just the inability to organise our defensive unit. These young players are not currently doing it, but equal measures of the blame as always has to be attributed to the man in charge. This is definitely no ‘Johnson-Out’ paragraph but the pressure is on to deliver a competitive team.
So another year almost reaches its climax and TUFC have given us plenty to talk about as always! We’ve tried to be proactive this year, give opinions that are balanced and worthy of your attention, and publish enjoyable articles on a regular basis. There’s been controversial moments and disagreements here or there, but that’s all part of discussing football isn’t it! Enjoy your turkey or whatever you are feasting on, enjoy the company of your family and friends (if possible), move on from the latest defeat (if possible) and get behind the lads on Boxing Day if you’re making the trip. Supporting the lads is all we can do…the rest is over to them. So it’s a Happy Xmas from all at TorquayTalk!