Dom Roman – @DomRoman
Dom discusses the Gulls
NO HAPPY NEW YEAR AT HUISH PARK
We were looking for 6 points over the Xmas period, and came back with 1. That’s pretty much the story of the season so far, hoping and hoping for the Gulls to prove something and being disappointed again, again and again. Watching the stream at home (in discussing a possible trip to Huish Park and leaving my wife with the kids, the scowling response from Mrs Roman spoke volumes and left me with little other option!) and seeing Torquay balls up chance after chance to make their own luck and take a deserved lead, it felt somewhat inevitable that Yeovil would eventually score and win the game. Because this is what a bad team does, they lose games when they’re playing badly and they lose games when they’ve played well. 1-0 then 2-0 to the Glovers, because we have no authority around the opposition’s penalty box and rarely ever keep clean sheets. Sadly too predictable.
There were positives around the pitch, Omar strong in the middle of the back 3, a simplified position that suits a rather simple player, Donnellan being one of our best performers again, Hall and Lapslie rekindling the tenacity and spirit of Derby (h), whilst Wearne had sure and silky touches, and De Silva was a threat on the right wing. This was a team set up better by their manager and a team that had Yeovil Town on the back foot, with some neat one-twos around the box and a Gulls team doing better when the ball is kept on the deck. But alas final balls and shots were erratic yet again, like most away days this season the Yellow Army were holding out for a hero, and no-one grasped the opportunity. Horribly frustrating.
Within the 800 strong travelling contingent it’s no surprise that hoots of derision were heard towards both the owners and Gary Johnson. Afterwards the manager was clearly not impressed and surprisingly challenged United supporters to back their club. This feels like Gary Johnson being pushed into a corner and feeling the pressure of our struggles. He wants to be the kingpin and manage the narrative of the situation, manage the press coverage and be appreciated as someone we are lucky to have at the club, to ride it out because he’s done so much before in his long career and should be supported to the hilt. Well in management, even with previous success, you have to keep proving yourself and he has to be made accountable in this terrible season at Plainmoor.
Is he seriously questioning the loyalty of supporters who keep turning up in magnificent numbers around National League grounds, keep putting hard-earned money into travel, tickets, shirts and everything else, and keep backing their club, despite very little in return? I’d like to think it was a momentary slip of the tongue, and no doubt the manager will be trying to make friends with supporters again by the end of the week, but it leaves a sour taste from a sour couple of games. No manager is beyond criticism and no person is bigger than the club.
Let’s be clear here, the Yellow Army are the very best thing about Torquay United and the club are lucky to have such a dedicated following. The amount of supporters who care passionately about the club is unbelievable, and whatever their beliefs about Torquay United, whether they are GJ Out or GJ In, we all crave a successful football club, a club that has been here a long time before Gary Johnson turned up and one that will hopefully be here a long time after he’s gone. That doesn’t mean any abuse is warranted mind you, but supporters’ frustrations are bubbling over and after 4 wins in 25, even a manager with a bruised ego should understand that.
Don’t bother looking at the Yellow Army and thinking we are part of the problem, anyone who has been to Plainmoor this season can see the support and the patience we have given the current squad. I’d suggest other grounds would have been far more hostile and the manager would be under far more pressure if roles were reversed. Instead the entire club needs to understand the perilous situation we are in rather than stumbling along with fingers in their ears, pretending we are not in trouble and saying ‘Gary will sort it out’. Are we simply accepting failure and lacking the necessary passion as a football club to avoid the dreaded drop? We’ll soon see.
It’s time for people to take responsibility. From the players proving they are something more than ‘failing triers’ to the coaching stuff (assuming nothing changes) and Gary Johnson showing that he’s still worthy of being our football manager. There still remains time to improve the squad and there remains time to find the right solutions and results, but the clock is ticking. Torquay United, please show us something to give us hope for 2023. We are very much with you, the club, as always. Never doubt that.