TUFC manager Gary Johnson took time out at his press call on Thursday to talk about the team’s current good form, the busy Christmas period, and adding new players to a winning team.
The Gaffer is happy that the performance against National League side Boreham Wood last Saturday indicates that the current squad is on the right path moving forward.
“It tells me a lot about if we go up I know that that group is not far away from competing at the next level,” said Gary. “They’ve proved that on that day. It was only one game, or one half a game even, so you can’t go too mad but it means that I haven’t got to be on my holidays in the summer trying to bring in a new group. I’ve done that at other clubs where we have had to bring in a whole set of players. There will be some comings and goings, but we know that if we can keep the main group from the squad, then we’re not going to be a million miles away if or when we go up. We’ve got to get up first and I think this group with a couple of additions should be good enough to win this league.”
Victory against Hampton & Richmond on Saturday will mean United are top of the table for Christmas. It is a milestone that Johnson would like to see.
“We put a massive importance on it. People say you’ve got to be top at Easter, that’s the important time. For me, Christmas time’s important because the number of games that you’ve got in a short space of time. We’ll never get another Christmas as good as this one, and the New Year, as far as the games, and the way they’ve come around at home.”
With United have so many games at Plainmoor over the festive period, the Gaffer is well aware that it can be difficult for non-season ticket holders to make every match.
“I know it’s difficult supporters at Christmas time to pay and get to four games, but it would be great if they could because I want to make sure we entertain then and we give them value for money. I said before these lads “watch them go” with a bit of support and a bit of encouragement. And knowing that the people actually want them to do well – that’s massive. The football club’s desperate to give them entertainment and I think we’ve done that so far.”
With the January transfer window opening for EFL and Premier League clubs soon, it does shift everyone’s focus to who United could bring in to bolster the squad. The Gaffer is keen to bring in the right type of player.
“You’re looking to strengthen wherever you can with whoever’s available. You can want Wayne Rooney or someone like that but he might not be available! We know because we discuss it every day, what positions we need, what we’re bit short in. At the moment we are a little bit thin on the ground as the squad’s concerned. If you’re bringing people in from League clubs they’ve got to play, and at the minute who do you drop? This team’s doing well. It is very difficult to say to say I’m bringing someone over the top of you because the lads are doing the job.
“We’ll know more come January when people say these people are free agents and they can move out now etc. Some of them don’t make a decision anyway until the end of the season. At Christmas time everyone keeps their squad together whether they’re involved or not because of the numbers – five games in a couple of weeks. They tend to keep them around. It looks like we’ve got to go with what we’ve got and we’ve got to manage it. We’ve got the right staff to manage it and get ourselves through this hectic period.”
United’s loan contingent from Bristol City have performed very well so far. Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, Jake Andrews, Opi Edwards, and Saikou Janneh have earned rave reviews for how much they have brough to the team.
“They’re basically with us for the season until Bristol City say otherwise because after 28 days they’re all recallable anyway. It’ll be an interesting Christmas lunch with Lee! We’re in contact all the time anyway. At Sunday Lunch there’s normally some negotiating. We’ve got the players unless they need them back and that’s always the situation.”
National League South | Hampton & Richmond | Beveree Stadium TW12 2BX | 22/12/18 | For travel and entry prices click here,