YEOVIL WON’T PANIC, NO WAY
ANYONE who thought Yeovil Town manager Darren Way would panic after a tough start to the season really should have known better.
This is, after all, a man who fought back to health with real determination after a serious road traffic accident in 2008 left him with multiple broken bones.
Then, last December, he took the reins at Yeovil Town when the club were bottom of the table and turned their fortunes around in spectacular fashion to preserve their Football League status.
An iffy opening to the campaign, which saw them in the relegation places ahead of yesterday, was therefore hardly enough to get him worried.
And Way believes the testing opening to this season will, ultimately, make him a better manager.
“Last year, no-one wanted to take the job. It was a bit of a crazy decision from me, but I’m very proud to have kept us in the League,” said the former Yeovil and Swansea midfielder.
“I stood the test and was bold and brave enough to do a job when others wouldn’t have put themselves in that position.
“It’s been a great journey and now I’m learning from a bit of adversity.
“It’s how you do it that’s important. You become successful through success and failure – that’s how you develop.” The 36-year-old is adamant that Yeovil will soon turn their fortunes around. “It’s important I don’t panic and I continue with the same principles as last year,” he said. “One or two wins and we are in a different position. “We have had a lot of experienced players injured who will be coming back and the boys are confident we’ll turn it around.” After the Glovers’ excellent form in the second half of last season, they looked like they were back in the groove in the opening week.
They beat Notts County 2-0 at home in their League Two curtain-raiser and then triumphed by the same score at League One side Walsall in the EFL Cup first round three days later.
A creditable 1-1 draw at Luton rounded things off.
But, after that, there were six defeats in seven games in all competitions, punctured only by a 4-3 victory against Portsmouth in the Checkatrade Trophy.
One reason why their form tailed off was undoubtedly a punishing schedule of eight games in August, including a 4-0 defeat at Premier League Everton in the EFL Cup second round.
Way said: “Playing Everton at Goodison Park was a great experience, but it took a lot out of the players, especially the younger ones.
“Portsmouth changed their XI against us in the Checkatrade Trophy, but we couldn’t do that.
“It was a testing opening month. I have never experienced so many games as a player, coach or manager.”
Yeovil chairman John Fry has backed his manager to turn fortunes around but is eager for wins to push the club into the top half of League Two and, as a consequence, boost attendances.
Way is convinced he remains the right man to do just that.
“When things are going against you, you stick together, stay strong and get through the hard times,” he said.
“People over-exaggerate things. Everyone wants to win and everyone reacts a bit differently, but when you are the manager you put your head over the parapet, stay strong and believe you can turn it around.
“I’m trying to build a football club to be proud of and it’s not going to take six weeks or six months.
“It’s going to take patience to get us back to where we want to be.”
TRYING to work out what’s wrong with Derby is like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube. Just as you think you’ve cracked it, a new problem appears and you’re back to square one.
Once, they couldn’t keep the back door shut. Then, they cracked under pressure. Now, the issue seems to be scoring goals. The Rams have managed only one this season, which is mind-boggling when you consider the talent in their squad.
Will Matej Vydra – an £8m signing from Watford (inset)– address that issue? I don’t think so. Yes, the Czech is a former Championship player of the year, whose record of 38 goals in 92 games for the Hornets deserves respect.
But those goals all came playing off Troy Deeney. At West Brom, and at Reading last year, he flopped badly. The 24-year-old has had only one genuinely prolific season and that was four years ago. He is no sure thing. Darren Bent hasn’t been a regular scorer for years. James Wilson, another deadline-day signing on loan from Man United, is totally untested. Then, there’s Nick Blackman, a walking illustration of the perils of buying a player based on a purple patch. Prior to scoring 13 goals for Reading in the first half of last season, the 26-year-old had reached double figures only once in his career, yet Paul Clement paid £3m for him. Crazy.
It reminds me of all the fuss around Hal Robson-Kanu. He scored one great goal in the Euros and everyone said ‘Wow, why has nobody signed him?’ But, if you look at his record over the last few years, he hasn’t actually done that much.
Personally, I don’t see anyone who’ll get you ten goals a season, which makes the departure of Chris Martin to Fulham all the more baffling.
For me, though, the lack of goals is actually a symptom of a deeper problem. Derby simply don’t have enough leaders.
When Nigel Pearson’s men fell behind against Ipswich in midweek, there was no reaction. No passion. No anger. You can have all the talent in the world, but it isn’t enough without a bit of fight.
How many times did Joey Barton drag Burnley through games last year? How many comebacks did he spark?
When things are going wrong, I’ve been in dressing rooms where everything goes quiet and nobody really says anything. It’s a recipe for disaster.
What you need are people who’ll stand up, point fingers and dig people out. ‘You know what, you should be doing better. You’re not tracking back enough. Your final ball needs to be better’. Looking back to my Brighton days, I had Tommy Elphick, who’s now captain of Aston Villa. I had Nicky Forster, Glenn Murray, Nathan Jones. Big characters, strong personalities. They’d all do that. Does Nigel Pearson have men like that to rely on? I don’t think so.
In fairness, they do have leaders at the back. Richard Keogh, Jason Shackell, George Thorne. But you need five or six of them, not one or two.
Up front, they’ve got none. The strikers I’ve already described. Tom Ince blows hot and cold, as does Will Hughes. Bradley Johnson, a player I know from Brighton, isn’t a leader.
There’s nobody there who’ll take a game by the scruff of the neck and says ‘Right, it might be ugly, but we’re winning this’.
The quality is there. If you look at their team – or their squad for that matter – I don’t think there’d be many players who would not walk into another Championship side.
What’s missing is the ruthlessness, desire and bloody-minded determination to battle through tough games.
That’s what leaders give you. That’s what Derby lack.
STILL LEARNING: Yeovil manager Darren Way and, inset, chairman John Fry