Dom Roman – @DomRoman
“Keep patience and faith in Gary Johnson pushing away bad memories of 2021”
It’s been a sobering week to be a Gulls supporter! Firstly the revelation that only three players are contracted for 22-23 at the moment, and none of those are first team players; secondly the sadly inevitable suggestion that Armani Little and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans have turned down new deals, and finally the Under-18s goalkeeper Matt Wonnacott being snapped up by Wigan Athletic for a very Torquay United amount of ‘no fee’.
I guess this summarises where we are as a football club! No sufficient sway to tie established first teamers into 2 year deals, meaning no likelihood of transfer fees incoming, and a youth system that is promising to bear fruit but not registered as an academy, meaning players can apparently be snaffled by interested EFL scouts for nothing before they have even got near to a first team appearance. Overall an infuriating sequence of events and statements, but a reflection of what our set-up is limited to.
The need to overhaul the squad for a second time in successive years is frustrating, but you get the feeling that Gary Johnson is relishing the task this time around, and the fact that he has months rather than weeks to get things right in 2022 is reassuring. I’m not sure ‘marquee’ signings will materialise, but GJ will be doing his very best to find the right characters who can take us forward. Characters who are ready to play week in week out, characters who can stand up on a cold NL night at Boreham/Maidenhead/Bromley/Aldershot etc and be counted.
Of course the summer may well start with the chastening experience of losing Lewis, Wynter, MacDonald, Little and CLE, and I think we’ll have to deal with the pain of losing at least 3 or 4 of those guys. All excellent players in their own right, and all bar Lewis fast approaching what should be the peak of their careers. No doubt other teams will offer better money and it’s hard to begrudge those chaps other opportunities after the service they have given us….as long as they don’t choose Notts County! Best get these goodbyes out of the way sooner rather than later, start the healing process and move on.
What do we need more of in 2022-23? Pace for a start! Faster players who can stretch defences and make us more difficult to contain. Goals come next, a striker who can bag us 15 goals (or more) would be very handy, but perhaps just 2 or 3 who can share them out. Whatever the solution, we need to ease our goals reliance on the midfield and shift it upfront.
Other requirements depend somewhat on who is retained, but you can never have enough experienced leaders at the club and GJ will be seeking out players who have the necessary bottle to make it a stronger season. Ideally players who have NL knowhow and can hit the ground running. With higher earners leaving, perhaps the budget can stretch sufficiently to make this happen.
The squad has to be more well-rounded for a challenge in 22-23, and part of that is bringing in guys who are versatile and confident in different positions. Our squad is never going to be big, so those types of players can be huge as the season wears on. Finally we just need to find some good old-fashioned flair and excitement! Players who can get supporters off their seats and get them coming back to games. Duke-McKenna was a good example of that, more of his ilk please.
All in all, try not to panic as the departures are announced, keep patience and faith in Gary Johnson pushing away bad memories of 2021 and making 2022 count. The arrivals may take a little time to become reality, but it’s better to wait for the right signings rather than the quickest. A BIG few months await – time to right the wrongs of last year and have us dreaming again in 2022-23? I bloody hope so.
(Halstead, Rogers and O’Connell though? Crikey)