Following Yeovil Town’s relegation from League Two to the National League around two weeks ago, former boss Gary Johnson has given his reaction.
Johnson is now in charge of Torquay United, who got promotion at the end of the 2018/19 National League South season, meaning they will be up against each other.
A heads up, what he had to say was given prior to the news that the Glovers’ takeover would not be going through.
BBC Somerset presenter Claire Carter asked: “What do you make of this relegation?”
The former Yeovil boss replied: “Well, what can you make of it? It’s obviously very very disappointing for everybody at the club and anyone who was associated with the club over the last few years. It’s a sad situation when you get relegated. You have to worry about it for a little while, but quickly you have to start planning because you have to get back pretty quickly. Otherwise you end up languishing in the non-league. So the club has really got to regroup and get back quickly. We were lucky enough at Cheltenham after relegation and I came in, where fortunately we got our promotion straight after. That’s the time to do it, if you can. I think one of the things is that it was obviously a massive decision to move Darren Way on with seven games to go. Obviously everyone in hindsight would have maybe kept it as it was. But unfortunately it’s happened. You grieve for a little while, and then the Yeovil supporters will rally around again and get behind their team in the National League.”
Claire then said: “Whether you take it over the last sixteen years or over the last couple of years, what has gone wrong at Yeovil to get to this stage?”
Gary said: “I think the club got into a little negative spiral. Every now and again you’ll pick up a couple of wins and it looks like it’s going okay. I think that people took their eye off the ball a little bit as far as the link between maybe the Board and the management. Other things that were going on around the club that didn’t focus necessarily on the team. But I suppose that everyone at the club will feel that they did the right things for the right reasons. But it’s just gradually got worse and worse, and the atmosphere got a little bit worse. The foray to move Darren on got worse. It was all a little bit of a spiral that came down recently. And over the years really, I suppose – I think it was 19th, 20th, 19th – but then somebody should have realised that it might have needed a little bit more investment to get that next player. There were a lot of loans going in, and it’s difficult to get loans together enough to make a team that is going to be successful.”
The presenter wondered: “Given your managerial experience, what needs to happen now? What do players need to hear? What does the club need to do, to try to get back into that Football League? How do you try to perk up a club that is now in non-league football?”
Johnson suggested: “I think the first thing is sorting out the little bit of uncertainty with who is going to be owning the club. They need to do that pretty quickly, so that whichever manager they bring in, has got a good summer to get some recruitment. I think it’s got to be people that know the level, that know the players around, where they can pick up the phone and ask that player to join them. So you’re rebuilding, and with the uncertainty I’m not sure that the rebuild is going to be done quickly enough. If it’s done this week and a manager comes in, then great. Somebody can start straight away and start recruiting. That’s the important thing. The problem with Yeovil of course, is that when we were in the Championship and then in League One, it’s a selling club. If you go back to our Championship team and League One team, they’re all playing at a higher level, because obviously they got to that level, but other teams can take them off you unfortunately, and I think that will always be the case with Yeovil. So they’ve probably got to go for a young group like we did when I was first in the Conference, when I first came. A young group of very keen young lads, who become their own friends, and just start gaining ground together and getting back into that league. I think it’s got to be an atmosphere of young enthusiastic decent players.”
Claire mentioned: “Yes, and I guess they’ll see you and your Torquay next season?”
Gary ended with: Yes, I’ll look forward to the games. Obviously we’re going into this league happy, and Yeovil will be going into it not so happy. But at the end of the day, it’s the same league. It will be a good Easter and Christmas, I should think and I always look forward to going back to Yeovil, as I’ve still got many friends there and many great memories.”