Dom Roman – @DomRoman
The Ed discusses all things Torquay United
Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it…TOO HOT ISN’T IT! Well by Saturday the scorching weather should have calmed down a bit, just in time for Torquay United’s 2021-22 prep to begin in earnest at Southern League Premier Poole Town. Only 34 days on from Ashton Gate heartbreak, the healing process starts at The Black Gold Stadium. Shouldn’t a ground only be named ‘stadium’ if it’s fairly big? I’d say so, but you can’t fault their ambition/sense of humour.
Gary Johnson resembled Russell Crowe in Gladiator on Monday, unveiling an unprecedented set of seven signings and asking “Are you not entertained?” in response to the lack of statement incomings. Well he didn’t actually say that, but close enough. I think we have to keep perspective on players coming to Plainmoor. We can’t compete with the likes of Stockport, Notts County and Wrexham financially, however that doesn’t mean an excellent squad can’t/won’t be developed. Gary Johnson knows how to bring the right characters in and forge a fantastic team spirit that can overcome any comparative limitations in spending, We’ll be very competitive I am sure, so please give these lads your support.
Out of the seven, two stand out for me for very different reasons – Tom Lapslie and Klaidi Lolos. It sounds like Tom is going to bring a lot of energy and tenacious harrying to the midfield, two characteristics that will surely make him popular with the Yellow Army. Meanwhile it’s all about the potential with Lolos. He stood out in a friendly at Plainmoor not that long ago, and if Argyle were in League Two he would have probably had more chances to impress. But the Greens’ loss is hopefully our gain. Torquay United has often been a place where untried and untrusted youngsters find their feet, our success regularly depends on it.
A number of the incomings have plenty to prove as they look to establish a professional career, and will be keen to show the Yellow Army what they can do on Saturday afternoon. For Gary Johnson it’ll be all about developing match fitness and developing relationships amongst his players (whilst trialling some more options). From the centre back partnership of Omar and Lewis, to Lapslie and Hall in midfield and O’Connell and Wynter on the right wing – an understanding and cohesion doesn’t happen overnight, so every friendly is a chance to nurture this all together.
Last season a big advantage was Torquay’s continuity, with a number of new chapping bedding in I’d expect more teething problems – but that doesn’t mean it won’t come right by August/September. In contrast to last summer, the Yellow Army are back on the march…well as long as they haven’t been pinged by the app! Poole have already played a few matches, so this will be a decent test for the lads.
NEMANE AND CAMERON
The inevitable news of Aaron Nemane’s departure was unveiled this week, with Notts County (unsurprisingly) his new club for a fee of around 15k – not a bad sum to add to the club’s coffers I suppose. Let’s not live in denial, Aaron was absolutely excellent during the first 3 months or so of the 2020-21 season, surprising many (including myself) with his strength and determination, and being one of most consistent performers as we hit the National League summit. So it’s a shame we couldn’t tie him up for another season, but as always at United players come and go pretty quickly. I’d like to think he’s replaceable and the grass won’t be greener for the lad at Meadow Lane. Time will tell.
Aaron’s signing saw Kyle Cameron banter the Yellow Army with some #AgentCam tweets, stirring up feeling between the two teams supporters on social media and spicing up Notts County (a) further. Let’s not dwell too long on these ex-players, we have no divine right to keep them forever and harping on angrily about these chaps, rather than enthusing about our own players, just shows we’re rattled doesn’t it? Best move onwards and hope that the league positions prove their decisions were wrong ones. Fate probably decries a play-off rematch between us and the Magpies in 2022, now that would be something. The pressure is on Stockport, Wrexham and Notts to be pushing for the title, but spending sprees don’t necessarily equate success do they?
SQUAD POSITIONS TO FILL
We’re not far off a full squad, but there’s certainly some positions to fill (see Joseph Pope’s latest speculation blog) with 17 so far contracted for 21-22. What’s left to sort out? Well to start with a centre back is a must, we have three on the books and also Dean Moxey but Gary Johnson will want one more. This could possibly be Sam Sherring, but GJ may push for a more experienced pro if the right one becomes available. The centre back position is so important, he might even ask Clarke to splash some cash!
Ben Wynter has little cover at right back, Joe Lewis can do it but the big man is very important now at CB, so in an ideal world we’d have another RB, but budget juggling may not allow for it. Midfield is set with Hall/CLE/Little/Andrews/Lapslie giving us a strong engine room, but wing does need bulking up. We have Andrews, O’Connell plus Kozsela and maybe Lapslie to cover but one other face to change things up would be nice. That leaves strikers and I think we’ll see at least one arrive soon, maybe two. Young Harvey Bradbury has been linked, he could be a useful focal point if that deal comes to fruition.
Right Back X 1, Centre Back X 1, Wingers X 1, Strikers 2 would give us a squad of 22 and set us up nicely, perhaps greedy on my part and I’m always likely to say we’re two or three players short!
Only four weeks to go until season start and that pain from 20th June is starting to fade. Forget the likes of Cam, Whits and Nemane they’re gone – buy into this latest squad of players and get behind them. They’ve still got one of the best managers around and we’ve still got a great chance. Enjoy Poole for those who make the trip – we’ll be reporting back, it’s what we do!
*Oh and check out our ‘New Gull Profiles’ on the site now.
COYY – Dom