FANS' ZONE 12/03/2021
UNITED’S LATEST HOME DEFEAT LEADS TO UNREST AMONGST FANS - IS IT JUST DOWN TO INJURIES? Not the home form of a top side and no longer ‘Fortress Plainmoor’, so what’s happening? If you read the forums after Saturdays 1-0 reverse to rivals Hartlepool, who, in October, were hammered 5-0 on their ground, comments like: ‘Teams are no longer playing with fear against us’, ‘Best we can hope for is the play-offs’ were the mildest ones and, of course, the inevitable ‘get rid of the manager.’
It was uncomfortable viewing, even from the comfort of home, so it was good for the players’ morale that the Yellow Army were not inside Plainmoor.
These are, certainly, testing times especially when you look at the stats, for example the last time United defeated Hartlepool at Plainmoor was thanks to a David Graham strike in October 2001.
And the current form tables make for uncomfortable reading: last six matches the Gulls are 12th with 7 points from 18; last 10 matches United are 15th with 12 points from 30.
So is the manager under pressure? From himself undoubtedly but there’s bound to be discussions amongst those running the club, for it’s no secret that the club’s owner and directors see this season as United’s best chance of returning to the EFL.
What will it take to put things right? The obvious answer is the swift return of the key injured players - Wright, Cameron, Nemane spring to mind. Return some of the current loan players and recruit more fit-for-purpose ones? Probably easier said than done and the Boss did say in the question and answer session last week that there would be no more signings.
Clarke Osborne has poured in £Millions already, does he continue to do so in order to reach the promised land or has Gary Johnson used up his share already? Interestingly, in last week’s ‘Inside Plainmoor’ he did comment on several other sides having bigger budgets.
It could be a blessing that Tuesday’s match against Aldershot was called off giving the missing players a little longer to recover, we’ll find out just before kick-off on Saturday.
The Gulls still have 19 games to play - that’s 57 points at stake - but were Dover’s results to be expunged then only 17 games would be left.
Somehow United have to re-discover the form that took them to such a commanding lead earlier. With the Gulls now third they become the chasers so will this alter the mindset? We’ll soon find out!
In National League news the Daily Mail reported last week that NL chairman Brian Barwick is expected to stand down at the end of the season after a revolt from clubs about his leadership.
The former FA chief executive is understood to have lost the support of key allies on the board. Meanwhile plans for a new league for Step 2 teams in National North & South who want to continue have been sent this week to the FA’s Alliance Committee for consideration with eventually the FA Council making the final decision.
Crucially should this be given the green light it will mean promotion into the National League and therefore relegation out of it. There might still be three months of the season to play but big decisions like these need to be known sooner rather than later as well as the fate of Dover whose situation has dragged on for another week.
You can see why clubs in Steps 1 & 2 are reluctant to take on Sports England loans to complete the season as it’s been revealed that the funding, doubled to £600,000 in the Budget, has strings attached - any club that accepts the money cannot be sold until it has been repaid.
By the time United play Boreham Wood in Saturday’s BT Sport evening kick-off, rivals Sutton will have caught up their games in hand. The Wood, though, are coming to terms with their loan request to see them through to the end of the season, from Sport England, being turned down.
That penalty save in the FA Trophy game that saw the Gulls miss out on a potential Wembley final was a key part of the match as Woking keeper Craig Ross explained after watching previous clips, “ With Asa Hall, he mixes them up, the two previously he went to the keeper’s right and I just had a feeling he favoured my left. It was one of those gut instinct decisions.”
Many thanks for all the ‘get well soon’ messages I’ve received from the club’s directors, manager Gary Johnson and from fellow fans.
Over the weekend there were comments about Gary Johnson’s position so this week’s question is should he stay and complete the season or go?
Send your ‘stay or go’ reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @FanszoneT
In the meantime to all the Yellow Army stay safe and, when offered, get your vaccination.