Ed @DomRoman with his weekly 5 discussion points on Your Team:
1 – New Kit
The new kit has been eagerly waited since the Pro-Direct/Nike link up was announced. For most people it didn’t disappoint. The presentation was slick (for TUFC anyway!) and so is the kit I think. It’s a fairly simple but effective design that catches the eye, and almost seems too cock-sure of itself to be TUFC. We don’t often do self-assured, it’s just not our way is it! I’d love to see more people wearing Torquay United clothing both in and out of the ground, and this should do the trick. I’ll be getting the home shirt, assuming they order enough XL in!
2 – Fixtures
The fixture list (see below) is always difficult to judge, especially in the Conference where teams can be much better or worse than anticipated in August. The starter is a tough one, as Tranmere must be desperate to start well and contest first position this season. They will bring a good following and it will make for a lively atmosphere. I just don’t want United fans to get too dis-enchanted if they turn us over! After that the stern tests continue against Aldershot and Gateshead; I’d take 4 or 5 points from those first three right now!
Two Eastleigh games at Xmas/New Year really illustrate how much we are lacking a local rival! Slowly all those teams have moved back to the league and the travel club mileage has been creeping up and up. We don’t have a good record against the Hampshire team; maybe this will be the season to turn that around (with a 4-3 victory perhaps..).
3 – Pre-Season Friendlies
The Stoke Gabriel loss at the weekend rattled a few TUFC fan’s cages, but not mine. No first-teamers in action, and no players who are likely to get a chance for 2017-18. Therefore please do not panic! I would love these trialists to make a big impression for Nicho of course, but apart from some flickers of promise it’s back to the drawing board for the gaffer.
Next up is Bristol City and a chance to see our first team take shape and get the new kit, so I’m sure they’ll be a decent turn-out. I don’t attend many friendlies (normally one!) and I think I’ll wait until the Argyle game. By then Kevin will most likely have at least one or two more signed up, and the competitive nature will be revved up a bit (well…better than a gentle stroll anyway)!
4 – What does Nicho need?
It’s a re-occurring theme from this summer, what squad positions need to be filled?
A target man remains a priority, not necessarily a starter but a game changer and a game holder! By that I mean someone who will win challenges in tight games and keep the ball in the right areas. Also a player who gives a plan B where balls can be chucked into the danger zone for him to attack. Most teams have them in our league; I saw numerous big guys give us trouble last season – be nice to turn the table!
Apart from that more defensive cover is required – preferably a centre-back/full back who can fill in comfortably. GG did a good job of that towards the end of 16-17, unfortunately the Aussie has given no sign of returning. That just leaves width and more precisely replacements for Sparkes. No easy task as Dan is one of the better wingers we’ve had in a while; maybe the loan market will provide us with some young bucks to sparkle out wide.
5 – Prospects for 2017-18
I am quietly optimistic for 17-18, but also a little apprehensive. I think we will be tougher to beat this season, mainly due to having more experienced pros who know how to handle tough situations and battle out draw/victories. My main concern is going forward. Now we all hope Ruairi will be a goal-machine, but with more pressure on his shoulders I think he will do well to score 15+. JP is a solid addition, but has never been a prolific goalscorer. That means others will have to chip in, and at the moment we’re still not blessed with enough firepower.
Also with a completely re-jigged squad we may take a little while to get going, and TUFC fans generally get panicked fairly quickly (understandably so). If Nico can added 2 or 3 more faces, find a settled team and a reasonable start – then maybe it’ll be a less bumpy ride than we are accustomed to! Dare I say mid-table mediocrity would be ok – well it wouldn’t be a disaster that is for sure. Also please just qualify for the FA Cup Round One lads, its been far too long!
PS – Watch out for the latest Highway to Hele fanzine – it’s the last for the time being, so make the most of it!