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Sunday, 21 March 2010

L1: Yeovil 0 Bristol Rovers 3

Funny old game, not that I was laughing. A 3-0 loss at home sounds like a fairly comprehensive thrashing; well, it is a fairly comprehensive thrashing, and yet it could easily have been different. The stats make interesting reading: The Glovers had 7 efforts on goal, most of them in the first half, none of them on target. The Gas had a total of 3 efforts on goal and scored from all 3. We had 9 corners to their 5 and enjoyed 52% of the possession. We lost the game in both penalty boxes. Our defending was poor and our final ball into the box even worse. Anything that could go wrong did go wrong.

We lined up as follows (4-4-2):

1. Alex McCarthy: 4/10 - Is a tough season beginning to catch up with Alex at last, I wonder? He's been excellent for the most part, but there's been signs in the last few games that he's just starting to struggle a little. Yesterday he struggled a lot. Dithered on a back pass to gift Rovers their first goal and didn't really recover from that. He's certainly been due a bad game, let's hope this was it and he's back to the keeper we know next time out.

2. Craig Alcock: 6/10 - Probably the pick of the back four for me on the day. Usual all-action performance, but not much in the way of end-product when he went forward.

5. Steven Caulker: 5/10 - I know, burn the heretic! How dare I do anything other than praise young Steven to the skies? Sorry, but I don't think he played that well yesterday. Was AWOL for their second goal (as was Forbes to be fair) and that wasn't the only time he was caught out of position during the match - one of which times he even felt compelled to take one for the team and picked up his first booking of the season. But if anyone's entitled to have an off-day then it's him.

6. Terrell Forbes: 5/10 - As with Caulker, never really got to grips with the Rovers front two, especially during the first half. Should have scored with a free header at the back post from one of our many corners but put it wide. One of those days.

28. Nathan Smith: 5/10 - Bit of a nothing game for Nathan. Only got forward occasionally which was a shame because he looked to have the beating of his opposite number when he did. Okay-ish defensively.

10. Gavin Tomlin: 5/10 - Started well, but faded badly as the match went on, particularly when he went up front in Sam Williams place. Not entirely his fault though, with the best will in the world he's no-one's idea of a target man so why did we lump so many balls towards his head?

21. JP Kalala: 7/10 - Typical box-to-box display from JP. Probably my man of the match. He must be worth a 2 year contract in the summer surely? Don't call me Shirley.

27. Scott Davies: 4/10 - My first sighting of our new loanee and I'm afraid I'm struggling to see what he brings to the party. Never really got involved, didn't look particularly fit, offered very little going forward or defensively. No surprise to see him subbed eventually.

25. Shaun MacDonald: 6/10 - I know he's played on the left side of midfield before, certainly at Swansea, but to me he never looks completely comfortable there. Did well enough, but IMO it's not his position. At his best as a box-to-box midfielder. If he was moved to accommodate Scott Davies then I hope it's the last time that happens.

9. Sam Williams: 7/10 - I've given him a 7 not so much for what I saw him do, but for the negative effect on the team after he was replaced halfway through the first half. When he was on the pitch we looked like scoring (even if we, er, didn't), as soon as he went off you had the feeling we could have played for another 90 minutes without coming close.

14. Dean Bowditch: 5/10 - He ran around a lot without much effect it has to be said. If he ain't scoring then he ain't that noticeable.

7. Arron Davies (24 mins for Sam Williams): 4/10 - Started on the right and then moved into the middle as the second striker after the break. Supremely ineffective in either position. If this is Arron playing for his future then the future is elsewhere.

11. Andy Welsh (63 mins for Scott Davies): 4/10 - I know he came on because Dave Linney said so. I don't know what he did when he was on though.

Hmmm, re-reading all that and it sounds like we had a collective 'mare, but it wasn't that bad in truth. Given that we gave the Gas a goal start we actually played quite well for the first 20 minutes and created some very respectable chances which unfortunately we didn't take. The second goal was a sickening one to give away with 3 Rovers attackers enjoying the freedom of our penalty box with defenders nowhere to be seen. But even then we still created chances and if we could have nicked one back before the break I would have been optimistic for the second half. Alas it wasn't to be and the third Rovers goal was the killer. Heads dropped and both teams went through the motions in the second half, but everyone there knew the game was over at half-time. We've got a fortnight off now without a game, and we need it. I daresay the team could do with recharging their batteries as well.

Just read: The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse: Beautifully written ghost story set in France in the years after the 1st World War. Haunting, lyrical, and if you're the nervous type, not at all scary. Best of all, it's nice and short, I read it in one sitting. I'll be looking out for more by this author.

Friday, 19 March 2010

From hero to zero

Just a quickie post today. Weather permitting we welcome Bristol Rovers to Huish Park tomorrow for the nearest thing to a derby match that we've found since entering the football league. I say weather permitting because we've had heavy rain for the last 2 hours which is forecast to continue until tomorrow evening, more or less. Oh god, I'm turning into you-know-who.

The Glovers are narrow favourites to win the game at 7/5, a Gas win is priced at 19/10 and the draw at 23/10. My fiver's going on the home win. Running total: +£1.62p.

Skivo has signed on loan another young Premiership central defender with a good reputation. The only surprise is that Luke Ayling is on Ars*nal's books, not Spurs. Well, no-one's perfect. He's here to provide back up to Terrell Forbes and Steven Caulker in Stefan Stam's absence, good luck to him during his stay in Somerset.

Shock of the week, as far as I was concerned, came yesterday, with the news that Gary Johnson has left Bristol City after nearly 5 years in charge at Ashton Gate. During that time he took TBCUTR from the bottom of division three back into their more natural home in the Championship, and came within a losing play-off final of dragging them into the Premiership. Since then 2 seasons of mid-table mediocrity have been deemed unacceptable by both City's owner and fanbase and yesterday Gary paid the price with his job. It's astonishing really how soon fans forget the good times and indeed the bad. When Gary left us to go to Ashton Gate City had spent 9 years in division three and were in real danger of dropping even further to division four. To read their forum now you would think the 2 seasons since the play-off final that they've been mid-table in the Championship have been 2 seasons of complete purgatory, not amongst the high points of the last decade or so that they actually are. Impatience and short-termism rules, as always in football. City are currently a fairly comfortable 7 points clear of the relegation zone. I would laugh my socks off if that was to change by May, and they ended up coming back down to division three.

As for Gary, he's probably better off out of it. It will be very interesting to see what he does next. Who knows, while he's waiting for his next challenge he might come back to his old stomping-ground, to give Skivo a few tips and tricks. Whatever, I'm sure this is not the last we've heard of Gary Johnson.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Another one bites the dust (part 2)

It's the end of an era for internet-using fans of the Glovers with the news that the green room has been shut down by its owner, almost certainly for good. The end came quite suddenly yesterday afternoon when owner/admin Hoagy tired of paying what I'm sure was a considerable sum every year to give a platform to a small but vocal minority of users who seem to think their 'right' to say what they like as aggressively and obnoxiously as possible superseded everyone else's 'right' to enjoy discussing what we all supposedly have in common - Yeovil Town FC.

We've been here before of course. Before the green room came along we had the Ciderspace Forum, which Badger, HHH and yours truly moderated. We ran the Ciderspace Forum for 6 years from 1999 to 2005 and by the end of those 6 years we couldn't wait to close it down, for dare I say it much the same sort of reasons that Hoagy has now closed the green room. There comes a time that one tires of kicking against the pricks (to coin a phrase), especially when you are the one shelling out the bucks to keep the forum open.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, free speech is a privilege, not a right. With free speech comes responsibility, the responsibility to treat others opinions with respect and not to take disagreement as an excuse to start throwing around insults or threats. Some people think that 'because it's the internet' they can say things and behave in a manner which they wouldn't dream of doing if they were talking face-to-face with the person they're disagreeing with. And they are the ones that spoil it for the reasonable majority, because eventually the users who make a good forum worth reading and contributing to realise they've got better things to do with their time than plough through reams of self-serving crap. And then when the moderator tries to winnow out the idiots and the ones who are killing the forum with their moronic one-line 'banter', you get accused of censorship or playing god and that's when the threatening emails start, and you realise that the game isn't worth the candle.

This being the internet two new forums have sprung up overnight to replace the green room, let's hope that at least one of them has the staying power to prove an adequate replacement. You pays your money (well, you probably don't) and you makes your choice: Town Talk; or Yeovil True. For what it's worth I prefer the look and feel of the first option, but will happily use either. What's important is that at least one forum succeeds. The only people I can think of who will be delighted by the green room's demise currently work at Huish Park!

Just read: Martyr by Rory Clements. After the never-ending Sarum it was a relief to get back to an ordinary sized book - a mere 300-odd pages from start to finish. Martyr, the author's debut novel, is set in Elizabethan London and does a good job in bringing that period to life. A murder mystery, it's obviously meant to appeal to fans of the excellent Shardlake series of novels by CJ Sansom, and does a decent enough job of that. It's the first of a series and despite it's (minor) flaws I enjoyed it enough to look forward to reading the next when it's released later in the year.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

L1: Yeovil 4 Hartlepool 0

Friday morning and I woke up with a headache, aching sinuses and a fever. But enough of my better half's problems, I felt fine and was looking forward to my trip to HP on Saturday to witness the second coming of Super Gav, aka Gavin Williams in the match against Hartlepool.

Oh bitter fate. Saturday morning and I was the one with the headache, the aching sinuses and the fever, but being a man, I had it bad. I could no more have got up to go to the football than I could have got up and walked to the moon; so I missed Super Gav's return and his part in the 4-0 win over the Monkey-Hangers. I missed Gavin Tomlin's penalty that put us 1-0 up, I missed Super Gav's super free-kick that put us 2-0 up, I missed Super Gav's super lob that hit the woodwork and then rebounded in off a Hartlepool defender to put us 3-0 up, and I missed Dean Bowditch's stunning solo effort that made it 4-0 to the Glovers. I also missed Super Gav retaliating to a late tackle which led to him receiving a red card which means he now misses the next three games. Bloody hell!

That's 3 wins out of the last 4 games which leaves the Glovers 11th in the table on 44 points from 36 games played. I personally think that will be enough for safety this season, I can't see any of the bottom 4 pulling back the 11 points they need to get to us, though doubtless Skivo will be continuing to crack the whip in training to get us as high up the table as he can.

And talking of Skivo, it was interesting to hear Steve Claridge's comments on the gaffer in the Football League Show on BBC1 last night. IPATHLYK commented that in his opinion the two outstanding manager's in the division this season were Paul Lambert at Norwich City and our very own Skivo. Lambert for the turn around at Carrow Road which now sees the league leaders finally punching their weight after a poor start to the season; and Skivo for his achievement in leading the smallest club in the division with the smallest budget to the top half of the table. Not often I agree with anything Claridge says, but he's got this spot on. Skivo (and Nathan Jones) deserve huge credit for the way they've approached the season. Most of their permanent signings have contributed well and their loan signings have been uniformly excellent. We've looked fitter as a team than we have for a long time and we at least try to play passing football, even if we don't always succeed. Sure, there have been disappointments - Scott Murray, Danny Hutchins and the FA Cup defeat at Oxford stand out - but on the whole the season has gone as well as it could have gone given the limitations a club the size of Yeovil has.

We've seen the last of Ryan Mason at Huish Park, at least for this season. Quite rightly both Skivo and Spurs have come to the conclusion that the player will be better off with some rest and recupuration at Spurs Lodge rather than trying to play through injury for the rest of the season. Ryan was superb for us during the first half of the season but began to struggle as the weather and the pitches deteriorated. There's no doubt in my mind that he's got a big future in the game if he can develop the physique and physical stamina to compete against the top players. The best of luck to him, I'm sure all Glovers fans will watch his career with huge interest.

The Glovers are in action again on Tuesday evening, making the long trip to Carlisle for a rearranged game. The bookies make the home side evens favourites, the draw is 12/5 and a Yeovil win 11/4. My fiver's going on the draw. Running total: +£6.62p.

Just read: Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd. I didn't expect to but I ended up more-or-less enjoying this, a way overlong (1400+ pages!) history of human habitation of the Salisbury area, seen through the eyes of six families and their descendents. Having said that it's too long (1400+ pages!) it did just about manage to keep my interest until the end. Parts of it are excellent, other parts could have been happily junked. I don't think I learned anything new from it, other than perhaps not to read such big books in future. I've got the author's Dublin to read waiting on my shelves, but I think it will be waiting a while before I do eventually pick it up. Something shorter for me next!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

The loan arranger rides again

Cast your minds back to last August. If a passing time-traveller had told you then that on March 11th 2010 the Glovers would be in 13th place in the league, on 41 points and 9 points away from the relegation zone, would you have been happy? I would, I'd have been bloody delighted, and I would suggest that the vast majority of Yeovil fans would feel the same way. Similarly, in our last 3 games we've won 2 and lost 1, 6 points from 9 to put it another way, and again you've got to be, if not pleased, then surely content with a return like that. Haven't you?

So if our league position is so (comparatively) comfortable, why has the mood on the green room this week been so downbeat, with posters queueing up to condemn everything about the club, from the management to the board, by way of the snackbars and the beer tent? Skivo himself has been castigated with posters criticising his team, his selections, his motivational skills and his tactics, as well as his reliance on loan players to make us competitive. God knows what he makes of it but I admit I'm a bit bemused by it all. Well, let me clarify that. I fully understand and concur with criticism of the board's failure to develop alternative revenue streams at the club, plus the criticism of the dire state of the snackbars and beer tent; it's the stick Skivo's been getting I find somewhat surprising. Admittedly I didn't put the time and effort in to make the long trip to Norwich last Saturday to see us walloped 3-0 and put in a display that by all accounts fluctuated between feeble and toothless, and perhaps if I had I'd be feeling a bit differently; nevertheless some perspective is I think required. Norwich's resources eclipse ours in every way. They are a Premiership club in all but name, can afford to lose £3 million this season without blinking or seemingly thinking twice and have the likes of Owain Tudur-Jones unable even to find a place on their bench. It was disappointing that we succumbed as tamely as we apparently did, but not the be-all and end-all of our season. This Saturday's home game against Hartlepool is rather more significant. As for the over-reliance on loan players, Skivo himself has admitted that he would prefer to see more contracted players and less loanees in future. Patience is required to let him get the balance right in future.

Lecture over. But I must admit I was amused today reading the reaction on the green room to the news that Super Gavin Williams has signed on loan from Bristol City for a month, with the possibility that he could stay 'til the end of the season. It appears that the prejudice against loan players doesn't count when it's Super Gav coming back! In all fairness it is a bit of a strange one. Williams is predominantly a wide player these days, though of course we know he's also capable of playing as the second striker or in central midfield. His arrival means we're back to 6 loanees, with the possibility of a 7th arriving before the loan deadline next week in the form of a central defender; though Skivo has said that he would prefer to sign a free agent if at all possible. We will see. Whatever, Gav's signing once again heightens speculation about Ryan Mason's future at Yeovil. With Williams, Arron Davies, Gavin Tomlin, Andy Welsh, Scott Murray and Mason all competing for the same few places in the team it wouldn't be a surprise in my humble opinion if Ryan was allowed to return to White Hart Lane slightly ahead of schedule. And given the way he's been struggling with injury and loss of form since the new year, that may be the best outcome for both him and us.

What Williams' return has already done and what it will do on Saturday is to give everyone a bit of a lift. We know what he's capable of when fit and we know how good he can be. I said a while back that we don't really have a player capable of doing the unexpected that splits open defences and creates chances. Gavin Tomlin and Arron Davies show flashes of it from time to time, Ryan Mason had it for a while in the first part of the season - Williams does it consistently. Can't wait to see him play again.

The bookies make the Glovers favourites for Saturday's fixture against Hartlepool at 5/4 for the home win. The draw is priced at 23/10 and an away win at 11/5. My fiver's going on the home win. Running total: -£4.63p.

Muffwatch: Send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. Former Glover Jerry Gill has resigned as manager of terminal basket-cases Weymouth after 44 days of trying and failing to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. The moribund Muff are down and almost out. If a CVA cannot be agreed with creditors next week then the club will be liquidated; if there is agreement and they're not liquidated they'll definitely be relegated, down to the Southern League. So much for 'living the dream'. I suppose there's a lesson for us all there.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

White men speak with forked tongue

"The relationship between the (Yeovil Town) board and Russell Slade is very close to breaking down. There is an issue that exists between the manager and the board of directors. The League Managers' Association has been brought in to mediate and to try and find a way through it. I spoke to the Chairman John Fry this afternoon. He wouldn't comment on the rumours of the breakdown. I did ask him how it had come out, because it has been on the internet that they are considering making changes and he has said that they fear that a club employee is leaking things out onto the internet. It was almost an admittance that there is something going on behind the scenes at Huish Park. I did speak to Russell Slade today as he had his regular Thursday press conference. I did ask him whether there was a rift between him and the board, and he said that was a matter to be kept behind closed doors and wouldn't comment on that. I then asked him how he was coping with all these rumours on the internet, even suggesting names of people who may replace him, but at the moment he said that he is just battling on." - Chris Spittles, HTV News, 12th February 2009.

"I am not interested in rumours. I am interested in facts. There are 101 issues I have been working on and 50 might involve Russell. Russell hasn't been to speak to me. You should speak to Russell Slade. My chief executive (Martyn Starnes) deals with the football and he is not aware Russell has a problem. I am not prepared to comment on any issue until you speak to Russell Slade to find out what the issue is. I am not commenting on any issue. The board hasn't expressed any disappointment. We met on Saturday and there was no problem." - John Fry, Western Daily Press interview, 13th February 2009.

This morning's BBC Somerset sports bulletin reports that Yeovil Town Chief Executive Martyn Starnes has spoken to them in the light of yesterday's rumours suggesting that manager Russell Slade could be on his way out. The BBC didn't speak to Mr Starnes live on air, but said that they had talked to him about the situation and that he had claimed that the club had no issues and no problems with their first team manager. - Ciderspace news page, 13th February 2009.

"Our club depends upon the honesty and commitment of its staff working together on very limited resources. Trust and integrity are essential ingredients in the running of any business. This is now being tested in our football club at the highest level." - John Fry YTFC official website, 14th February 2009 (statement released at 3pm, the same time as the Glovers kick off at Peterborough).

Yeovil Town Football Club and Russell Slade have parted company with immediate effect. No further comment will be made at this time. - YTFC official website, 16th February 2009.

"I would very much like to be in a position to explain the reasons why it was necessary for Russell and the club to part company, but I am currently unable to do so for legal reasons. I'm positive that our fans would completely endorse the decision of the Board, if I was able to share full details of the circumstances, but for the moment I am, unfortunately, bound by confidentiality issues. I will make a further announcement as soon as I am able to do so." - John Fry, YTFC official website, 17th February 2009.

"It's just one of those things and it happened. It was mutual consent in the end and both of us move on to pastures new. I enjoyed my time there and I'm pleased with my work there. Yeovil is probably not the most fashionable club in the league, but I enjoyed my time there and we were reasonably successful and I was pleased with what I achieved there over the two and a half years. - Russell Slade, 7th March 2009.

"In recent weeks there has been a tremendous amount of speculation and rumour concerning the circumstances of Russell Slade's departure. On the advice of its legal representatives, the Board has to date taken a decision not to make further comment on the matter. However, in view of the continuing speculation the Club has decided to make this statement concerning the circumstances of Russell's departure.
Russell Slade's position as First Team Manager was terminated by the Club with immediate effect on 15 February 2009 following allegations of gross misconduct. This decision followed a disciplinary process which was carried out in accordance with the Club's Disciplinary Procedure following advice from the Club's professional advisers. Although Russell Slade had always denied the allegations, the outcome of the process, which had been ongoing since November 2008, was that the Club believed there were reasonable grounds to conclude that Russell Slade had committed gross misconduct and, based on this belief, the Club decided that the position warranted the summary termination of his employment."
- John Fry, YTFC official website, 20th March 2009.

"I want to put the record straight following Yeovil Town's seriously inaccurate statement about me, released on their website last night. Firstly, I want to confirm that at no stage have I ever committed any misconduct at Yeovil Town or indeed at any time in my career. Throughout Yeovil's inquiry into this matter, which has been ongoing since November 2008, I have been assured by the LMA's legal team that I have no case to answer and am innocent of any misconduct. Having left Yeovil Town on 15th February, I attended an internal hearing with the club on 27 February 2009, during which they backed down and offered me a confidential compensation package with an agreed departure by mutual consent. I was pleased to reach an amicable resolution of the matter on that day and we all shook hands on the agreement. The agreement was also then confirmed in writing. I want to stress that I had no job to go to when the deal was done. I left Yeovil on 15th February and accepted the job of manager at Brighton & Hove Albion on 5th March, having met with Brighton chairman Dick Knight for the first time a few days previously. After accepting the job with Brighton, and following Yeovil's recent results, Yeovil Town have now tried to completely renege on our agreement. Even worse, they issued this inaccurate statement,which I am advised is seriously defamatory, and I am therefore obliged to set the record straight. Due to Yeovil's unfortunate actions, the matter is now with the LMA's lawyers, Russell Jones & Walker, and I am sure that full details will be made known in due course." - Russell Slade, Brighton official website, 21st March 2009

"On 20 March 2009 we posted a statement on this website regarding the departure from Yeovil Town FC about our then manager, Russell Slade. We are pleased to say that all issues between Russell and Yeovil Town Football Club have now been amicably resolved and we are pleased we can all draw a line under the matter for the benefit of both parties. We are grateful for the help of the League Managers Association through its Chief Executive Richard Bevan in dealing with this matter. We wish Russell well in his future career and thank him for his time at Yeovil Town." - Unattributed statement, YTFC official website, 1st March 2010.

The League Managers Association (LMA) can confirm that Russell Slade and Yeovil Town FC have amicably resolved all issues in relation to his departure from the club in February 2009. Slade joined Yeovil in 2006 and, during his time in charge, he won the Coca-Cola League One Manager of the Year award in his first full season after leading the club to their highest ever league position as well as the play-off final, just missing out on a place in the Coca-Cola Championship to Blackpool. Commenting on the issue, LMA Chief Executive, Richard Bevan, said; "All parties are delighted that the settlement has been agreed in a cordial and professional manner. I am sure that a manager of Russell’s experience, will be back in management in the not too distant future." - League Managers Association website, 2nd March 2010.

I don't suppose we'll ever know the full story behind the sacking of Russell Slade. What we can say without fear of much contradiction is that the whole affair was badly mismanaged right from the outset. Only the board and Slade himself will know how a charge of 'gross misconduct' could come to be 'amicably resolved', but the suspicion must be that the club will have paid and paid heavily for its somewhat haphazard and intemperate approach to Slade's dismissal. The shame of it is that the whole affair was so unnecessary, cost the club who knows what in compensation and that other blameless individuals - Steve Thompson and Hannah Manton, for example - lost their jobs through no fault of their own in the aftermath. Not Yeovil Town FC's finest hour.

Enough of the past. We are where we are, and actually 12th position under Skivo and Jonesy isn't a bad place to be. Tomorrow the Glovers travel to East Anglia for their first competitive game at Carrow Road, home of division 3 leaders Norwich City. It's one of those games where no-one will give us a hope in hell of winning, least of all the bookies who make the Canaries 4/11 favourites. The draw is priced at 7/2 and a Glovers win an astonishing 8/1. 8/1! I'll have some of that. My fiver's going on the away win. Running total: +£1.63p.