Dom Roman – @DomRoman
Whatever the results, we’re back in unison both home and away!
It’s not how you start…etc etc. Let’s not pretend Saturday wasn’t slightly depressing, because it was. The two early Altrincham goals were pretty shambolic, and gifted them a lead they relished holding onto, throwing everything to block, head and kick away Gulls shots and crosses. What was just as bad, was the first 20 minutes of the second half, when the quality of the game disintegrated further into a scrappy and stop start affair. Much head scratching ensued on Bristow’s. Not the start we had wanted in any shape or form, but also not the end of the world is it?
Integrating so many new players into a squad is very rarely done seamlessly, even by someone as shrewd and experienced as Gary Johnson. It takes time to build up relationships between new and old Gulls, getting to know each others style, strengths and weaknesses and most importantly trusting each other when proper competitive football kicks off. That was our (and Sutton’s) big advantage last season, the cohesion was already there and whilst others chopped and changed their line-ups, we added a few and pushed for the title. This summer has been a totally different proposition and challenge.
And that challenge was too much for us on Saturday, as six new starters made their debuts, with some looking more comfortable than others. The combinations are definitely work in progress. On the wings there was not nearly enough overlap from the full backs to stretch the Alty defence, whilst Lapslie and Little struggled to get a hold of the game in midfield. At the back Joe Lewis and Ali Omar looked uncertain at times, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. Upfront, Wright and Holman had their moments, too often the Dans were feeding off scraps of long balls thrown up far too regularly. A typical TUFC trait that one. These issues should be addressed as we progress, GJ and Downesy will work overtime on it.
What difference would a fit Asa Hall and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans have made on Saturday? We can only speculate, however our two best players leave predictably big holes to fill when they’re not on the pitch. The Lemon does so much to influence games, from finding space in behind the striker, creating and scoring big goals, and also closing down the opposition. That last point can be so crucial, as United did not get close enough to Alty at the weekend. Meanwhile Asa came on and influenced the game immediately, just by winning loose balls and headers, and providing a focal point in the middle of the park. The skipper is simply vital.
The good news? It’s game one and it’s a jolly long season! The old adage is ‘judge us after 10 games’ and that rings true I’d say. I expect a couple of new loan signings very soon to help strengthen the squad, if one of these is a NL proven centre back then all the better – though if they’re just brilliant like Sam Sherring then no complaints from me. I’m expecting more of a 4-5-1 from GJ at the weekend to bulk up the midfield. 4-4-2 can work in the right circumstances and with the right personnel, but with Alty’s midfield finding too much space, anything similar at Notts County could mean a long afternoon.
Overall the lads just have to re-discover some of those 2020-21 battling qualities and get that GJ press going again. That tactic takes a real team effort to make it work but I don’t think there’s any point in hanging back in defence at Meadow Lane, we’re better than that. “Get in their faces, push up and quieten down that home crowd”, I can hear the gaffer now…
Whatever the results, we’re back in Yellow Army unison both home and away! After being sat on our sofas it’s time to enjoy the banter and laughs with fellow supporters. Wins are never assured at Torquay United, they never have been – but let the results fall as they may, at least this season we’ll face the ups and downs together.
I do sometimes question my sanity for the hours I put in on the site, not that I don’t love it of course…but with other things to juggle in life it’s not always easy to fit everything in! But there has been some very good news this week, as TT were nominated for a ‘Best in Non-League’ award at the Football Content Awards. The site has never been about recognition, and all about Torquay United, but it’s nice to be included. Below is a link to vote, if you have a minute yours would be appreciated…don’t make me beg!
Onwards to Notts County. Optimism low and United underdogs? That might just spur us onto victory – we’ll soon see won’t we.
COYY – Dom