Johnson's teams nearly always score goals... plenty of them

Torbay Weekly

The events of June 20 at Ashton Gate, Bristol, and the feeling of Gulls fans that they had been 'robbed' of promotion back to the Football League, may never go away.

But time waits for no man, and no man knows that better than Torquay United manager Gary Johnson.

Johnson, whose personal performance through an injury-hit season entitled him to feel the pain more than most, allowed himself only a week or two, probably less, before he began the fightback.

And, although some supporters may fear that such a near-miss might traditionally be followed by a failure, the history of the National League play-offs actually says 'Far From It'.

Over the last ten years Luton Town, Newport County, Grimsby Town, Forest Green Rovers and Tranmere Rovers have all bounced back from play-off disappointment to win promotion the very next season or, in Luton's case, the championship two years later.

In other words, there is nothing to suggest that Torquay, well-run and with a management team that would walk into any other club in this division - and probably League Two, for that matter - are destined for anything but another strong showing.

Yes, the Gulls have lost a clutch of the players who helped them to second place last season.

And yes, a group of other clubs have splashed head-shaking resources at trying to buy their way back to the EFL.

Stockport County, who had already made John Rooney and Paddy Madden the top-paid players in the NL, have pushed the boat out again to buy title-winning centre-forward Scott Quigley from Barrow, plus a few others.

Wrexham, under their new Hollywood ownership, have persuaded Cambridge United's record-breaking striker Paul Mullin to drop TWO divisions. What that's cost them, goodness knows.

Fan-owned Chesterfield, who were on the brink of folding only a couple of years ago, have somehow found the funds to buy striker Kabby Tshimanga from Boreham Wood.

Notts County have also pushed the boat out to bolster the team that Torquay beat 4-2 in that memorable play-off semi-final at Plainmoor only two months ago.

But did Barrow in 2020 and Sutton United last season have the biggest budgets in the division? Definitely not, and it didn't stop them winning the title.

The thing to remember about Johnson's teams is that they nearly always score goals, plenty of them.

And they play at a tempo that keeps opponents under the sort of pressure that forces mistakes, and plenty of them.

His recruitment this summer, sprinkled with high-energy, pacy players and most with unrealised potential, fits the pattern he has always followed.

The most intriguing signing of the lot is Dan Holman, the 31-year-old striker back out of semi-retirement, five years after his 16 goals in the second half of the season inspired Johnson's Cheltenham Town to the championship in 2016.

If Holman - fit, refreshed and with a point to prove - hits anything like the form he is capable of, it could prove an inspired move. And at a fraction of the cost of Quigley, Mullin, Tshimanga & Co.

Don't forget that Stockport, Chesterfield and Notts are both under relatively inexperienced managers (Simon Rusk, James Rowe, Ian Burchnall), while Phil Parkinson has a reputation to repair at Wrexham.

Money does tend to talk, and the depth of Stockport's squad makes them obvious favourites, even if 3/1 for the title represents no value at all.

The Hatters, Wrexham, Notts, relegated Grimsby Town should all be up there.

Get on the Gulls at 14/1 to join them in the promotion race, and for two 'dark horses', have a look at Dagenham & Redbridge (20/1) and Barnet (50/1).

It's often 'feast or famine' at Barnet, where new boss Harry Kewell has completely overhauled his roster after their struggles of last season.

Bring it on..!