Manager Gary Johnson is setting a new course as he tries to turn Torquay United from a team good enough to walk the part-time NL South into one that’s good enough to win the full-time National League.
In 2019, Johnson added lanky centre-forward Manny Duku to the Jamie Reid-led attack which laid waste to the likes of Oxford City and Dulwich Hamlet.
Even without Duku, now with Raith Rovers in Scotland, a similar team to the title line-up rose to second place midway through last season, before a desperate run of injuries finally caught up with them.
United ended up conceding too many goals at one end and, good enough to beat anybody at their best, weren’t consistent enough at the other.
Johnson has acted accordingly.
The signings Gary Warren, Fraser Kerr and Dean Moxey in defence and Danny Wright, Andrew Nelson and Josh Umerah in attack are statements not only of intent but a change in approach.
Warren, Moxey and Kerr are all players who know how to get the job done, and they won’t stand on ceremony to do it.
At 23 Nelson (Sunderland, Hartlepool, Darlington, Dundee) may be an intriguing work in progress, but the muscular Wright and Umerah both know this division well.
After two years with dashers like Reid and Saikou Janneh up front, the signings of Wright and Umerah signal a shift in attacking tactics.
Umerah likes to play right up against opposing centre-halves, and there’s no point in having targetman Wright around if you don’t get the ball to him early, in the air and deliver some decent crosses.
Reid and Kalvin Kalala were the only regular forwards to leave at the end of last season.
Johnson has retained the rest of his attacking players, a sign that he is happy there, especially when Asa Hall, Jake Andrews and Armani Little return to full fitness.
No manager in this division has exactly who he would like in every position - the finances simply don’t allow it - but in the current financial climate, United have backed Johnson in a way which has encouraged the vast majority of fans.
If you offered Torquay’s current squad to most other managers in the division, they’d grab it with both hands.
Come May 2021 the Gulls shouldn’t be far away...