Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ifs, buts and maybes...

Five seasons after they regained their Football League status Torquay United finished the 2013/14 season bottom of League Two and return to non-league football.

Pl W D L F A W D L F A Pts
46 4 8 11 18 31 8 1 14 24 35 45

It was a disappointing and frustrating season. The first time the Gulls were relegated from the Football League (2006/07), the club was in turmoil - only four contracted players, no manager, a new board of directors and facing non-league football for the first time in 80 years.

This season there are a number of factors that could contribute to the Gulls lack of success:

  • Should  Alan Knill have been sacked sooner as manager - he had successfully guided the Gulls to league survival the previous season, but could not sustain that success
  • Should a more experienced manager have replaced Alan Knill - Chris Hargreaves is a Gulls legend that had scored in the Wembley Play-off final that saw the Gulls regain their place as a Football League cub, but had no previous managerial experience
  • The lack of a proven goal scorer - the leading scorer for the season was Jordan Chapell with just 5 goals and the last time he scored was 26 October 2013 in the 1-1 draw at home to Portsmouth
  • The poor home form - winning just 4 league games at Plainmoor, compared to 8 victories on their travels
  • The number of 1-0 defeats (10 in total) demonstrate how close the league was 
  • The number of postponements during the winter months (particularly at Plainmoor) which inhibited any momentum when the Gulls were starting to find form following the appointment of Chris Hargreaves as manager
  • New players - the failure to sign a proven goal scorer has already been noted, but the Gulls became reliant upon loan players and there was never a settled first team
  • Injuries - the Gulls have suffered as a result of the number of long-term injuries - Ben Harding had just started to find consistent form when he was injured; goalkeeper Michael Poke has suffered all season with a thigh injury; Shaun Cooper was signed mid-season but never appeared for the Gulls due to injury; and players Shamir Goodwin and Shaquile Coulthirst both had their loan periods curtailed due to injuries
  • The 10 match ban issued to Joss Labadie for biting Chesterfield player Ollie Banks during an away match in February, denied the Gulls access to a talented midfield player but meant they had to continue paying his wages
Of course all of the above are ifs, buts and maybes. The reality is that the League table speaks for itself and Torquay United simply did not secure enough points to retain their League status and must face at least one season of non-league obscurity.

Whatever happens though, the Gulls will doubtless continue to be frustratingly entertaining and we will continue to support them. Come On You Yellows !