Dom Roman – @DomRoman
On the face of it Saturday’s draw at Grosvenor Vale was a point gained and a step in the right direction. Away against the 6th placed Stones, a first goal for Ali Omar (and a clearance off the line), some great saves from Rhys Lovett and a battling point to bring home to Devon. A decent afternoon for a team reeling from another loss at home base Plainmoor. But look closer into the game, and the positives start to be shunted out of the picture by harsher Yellows reality.
Once again the Gulls had been dominated, with over 20 shots for the home team and only a meagre few for United. Once again the second half had become a backs to the wall 45 minutes, with the Gulls (by hook or by crook) clinging onto a 1-1 draw as the hosts took charge. No disrespect to Stones, but as part-timers they should not be able to out-work and out-run us. They should also not be able to out-play us, whilst we meekly surrender ground and hope for the best. A point gained? Yes, just about, but Gary Johnson could not be truly content with what’s currently on show from his passive United team.
I’ve mentioned managing expectations before and the need for patience – that still rings true and whilst United cling onto every point they can get, I cling onto the hope that October/November will bring joy, some attacking flair and more than a smattering of goals. A rise up to mid-table mediocrity at least. But let’s be honest, as a club, the Yellow Army need to see Torquay United come out fighting both in the short and long term. We need a boost, reasons to believe that we have a brighter future, because at the moment it feels like we’ll be at this level of the pyramid forever.
The owners remain distanced, lacking heart, soul and energy, just like the team on the pitch. They have done good things and have Gary Johnson’s constant approval, but are rarely heard from and unfortunately are happy to keep supporters (including TUST) at an arms length. A number of clubs have engaged supporters far and wide, and set up budget boosters, where the fans contribute to players wages. With United’s relatively large and committed fanbase this could provide valuable funds that help improve our squad, a squad that looks like it has been built on the most basic of budgets. There doesn’t seem to be any chance of this happening at a conservatively run TUFC.
What we have at the moment is a club stuck in a non-league limbo, unable to attract/afford established NL players, unable to bring through youngsters who will make the first team and unable to boost the coffers through cup runs. Our success is based entirely on the ability of the Johnson brothers to find the right rough diamonds (at low low prices) and shine them into National League players, and even with all the experience and grit Gary Johnson brings to the fold, the challenges appear to be grinding us down. Heck, even the tactics currently seem outdated, unimaginative, lacking direction and aggression, something you’d rarely say about previous GJ teams.
Saying all that, I remain stoic in my belief that the manager is still the right one to be in charge of Torquay United. That’s not based on the fear factor of no-one else being available, it’s based on his mountain of accumulated knowhow and his drive to seek out solutions and ultimately grasp results (as we saw last season). Reinforcements must come, he knows that, confident and quick thinking players who are not overcome with nervous anxiety and ready to make an impact to drag others along with them – no pressure lads! It only takes a spark to light a flame and stop us feeling glum after all. With supporters becoming divided in opinions, morale low and early 22-23 hopes disintegrating, we need this upturn sooner rather than later. A shock result in Wales would be just the tonic….well stranger things have happened.