Dom Roman – @DomRoman
Four defeats from six games, and the slow start gets even slower. Gary Johnson’s patience has worn out already and the Gulls are well adrift of what made them such a special team last season – plenty of talking points, so let’s get to them shall we. Game number seven – Southend (h).
The biggest question in the lead up to this game is what changes Gary Johnson will make, and whether new faces will arrive in time for Saturday afternoon. The gaffer said ’10 games’ but I think he’s right to move faster, rather than risk this bad run escalating into a proper crisis, GJ is going to act. Two positions immediately come to mind in squad strengthening – Goalkeeper and Centre Back. Mark Halstead has suffered a nightmare start to the season, and it’s been sad to see his struggles (and the abuse he’s suffered) – unfortunately there’s no hiding between the sticks. Meanwhile, at centre back Ali Omar and Joe Lewis are two young chaps desperately needing guidance alongside them. Otherwise the addition of Alex Addai can add some pace to a rather slow TUFC squad and I’m sure Gary Johnson would love to add more attacking exciting options to change things up. Fascinating weeks to come, no messing around from the gaffer, he’s not here to accept failure in any shape or form.
TWO TEAMS IN DESPERATE NEED OF A WIN
Make no mistake, we’re not the only notable NL team struggling so far, our opposition this weekend Southend United have also made a stuttering start with 1 win, 2 draws and 3 losses from their first 6 games. Their latest game was a home loss to Aldershot, who had themselves lost their first 5! So this is clearly a winnable game against opposition who have a low confidence carried forward from last season. Southend, who play a familiar NL 3-5-2 formation, will be thinking the same. In truth anything could happen in this one…..
HIS NAME WAS LOLOS…
One of the few brighter sparks in the last two games was Klaidi Lolos. He got involved against Grimsby with some smart touches and bagged his first goal for Torquay at Damson Park. Is this his time to make the starting line-up and would he be a better fit alongside Wright (if GJ persists with two upfront) than Dan Holman? Hard to judge but there’s definitely talent and potential in the young lad, bringing the best out of him could make a big difference to our chances.
An ex-Gull scoring against us at Plainmoor? Sometimes it feels inevitable and even Michee Efete banged one in last Saturday, as he was given the freedom of Plainmoor to stroll into the penalty area and side foot one into the bottom corner. Rhys Murphy will always be known to us as an under-performing Gary Owers recruit, but he’s scored plenty of goals since then, and with 3 goals in the 6 NL outings he’s got to be Southend’s main attacking threat. He’ll most likely play alongside young Watford loanee Sam Dalby, and stopping those two could be the key to the game.
TRUSTING THE GAFFER
It’s been three years since the gaffer took charge, since then he has taken us from NLS oblivion to the very cusp of NL promotion and I think he’s earned some patience and faith to get things right this time around. I’m not promising the results will improve immediately, there’s never any assurances at Torquay United, but swift and decisive changes will be made to steady our decline. Having such a disapointing play-off loss, a late (and brief) post-season and dealing with the loss of key players was a triple blow that’s impacted us hugely – but I’d add that talk of relegation trouble is premature and unwarranted. The coming weeks will be crucial both on and off the field, hopefully starting with a strong result against the Shrimpers to boost all our spirits. Positive thoughts please…
THE BIG DECISONS
So we’ve been poor this season haven’t we! But even allowing for that, the officals decisions have been going frustratingly against us….
Omar’s sending off at Notts County.
Chiori Johnson’s first booking versus Woking.
Joe Lewis’s header not over the line versus Grimsby.
No penalty for a foul on CLE at Solihull.