The famous footballing cliché is ‘a game of two halves’, but Yeovil Town have had a season of two halves. After finishing 2016 just below the play-offs, they ended the campaign dangerously close to relegation.
This calendar year, the Glovers recorded just three wins from 28 games, leaving the mood around Huish Park rather downbeat. Although the frustration from the fans is completely understandable, I do wonder whether all the negativity is fully justified.
For me, the mentality was summed up by a gentleman returning to his seat for the second half against Crewe Alexandra a few weeks ago with Yeovil 2 – 0 up. As he walked up the stairs, he remarked: “They’re gonna lose 3 – 2, you know.” The final score was 3 – 0.
I have no problem with people criticising the team when they’ve lost – the players and management have certainly deserved it at times – but I also believe that the supporters should give credit where credit is due.
Indeed, there have been moments during this season where social media has been a little bit too hostile for my liking, and spectators have lambasted certain players and management decisions without giving them a chance.
Naturally, manager Darren Way has been on the receiving end of most of the criticism. While I agree that his naivety and inexperience has cost us considerably this year, I think if you’re going to be critical of those things, you should aim your criticism towards the person who put him in the position he’s in, rather than the man himself.
Furthermore, while I don’t buy into the idea that ‘he’s a club legend so he’s immune to criticism’, I can’t help but feel that some of the things that have been said about him have seemed particularly mean-spirited.
For example, the criticism regarding his post-match interviews has been particularly harsh, with fans latching onto little slip-ups and turning them into running jokes. Who could forget Darren’s infamous play-off push, or his notorious winning draws?
He’s a young manager and clearly not media-savvy in the same way that Gary Johnson was, but you can at least see that he’s responding to the fans’ opinions, and his pre and post-match messages have improved throughout the season.
I know that I won’t make many friends by backing him, but it’s hard not to admire the professionalism and enthusiasm that he’s brought to the role as manager, and his efforts to bridge the gap between the club and supporters should be commended. Surely I can’t be the only one who finds it refreshing after Paul Sturrock’s reign?
In my opinion, judging whether or not this season has been a success hinges on whether we are able to build on it. If we can keep certain players at the club and help them fulfil their potential with Yeovil, it could be the foundation of something wider. If not, then we’re back to square one.
There have definitely been moments where we have shown potential, and members of the team such as Matty Dolan and Alex Lacey have already improved exponentially since last year.
Don’t get me wrong; we’re still miles away from being able to achieve anything in this league, but I firmly believe that we’re on the right path. I can only see a change in management at this stage setting us back.
Of course, my blind faith ignores the other, more prevalent problems with the football club. To combat that, we must put our faith into the Glovers Trust, who have already made strong efforts to put certain individuals behind the scenes at YTFC under pressure.
I’ve seen many tweets this weekend from fans saying they’re relieved the season is over. To some extent, I agree, as 2017 has been rotten so far from a Yeovil Town perspective. However, that doesn’t make me any less excited to start it all over again next year.
Until then, let’s focus on the positives from 2016/17, even if you might struggle to think of any at first!