Torquay United 'selling itself' to new players as Gulls making signings

Torquay United manager Paul Wotton says he hasn’t had to sell Torquay United to players, because the new Torquay United is selling itself. That is a far cry from the desperate days of administration - but after the transfer embargo was lifted last weekend, the players have been rolling in, and Wotton can’t wait to get the balls and the cones out and start coaching them on June 27.

Talking to the Torquay United Yellow Army Podcast on Thursday, Wotton said: “It has been nothing but positivity - but I haven’t lost a game yet! But honestly it has exceeded my expectations. When I get up in the morning and come to work - and this isn’t anything against the club I was at before - this is a proper football club with really good people about it.

“I haven’t had to sell Torquay United to the players I have signed, they need re-assurances on where we are financially and stability wise, which is something everyone is within their rights to ask, in my interview it was the first question I asked - but the positivity has been great.”

Between Monday morning and Thursday evening, eight new players were announced. The only player on the books already was Austen Booth, but coming in were Jay Foulston, Finley Craske, Oscar Threlkeld, James Hamon, Jaydn Crosbie, Sam Dreyer, Lirak Hasani and Roddy Collins.

Wotton said: “My phone has been red hot. I have had personal messages from players saying ‘would you be interested in signing me?’ - agents and so on. We will always have the logistical problem of where we are geographically - that will never change, whether you are managing Plymouth Argyle, Exeter City, Torquay United, Truro City. You will always have that and I am not going to sit here for one second and say every player we have gone after we have agreed.

“Because there has been, it might be a Manchester-based boy, a London-based boy, and they want to stay close to their home, to their family, or they just don’t fancy the move. But there is also on the flipside of that, there are a ton of players who are like: ‘Torquay United? Hundred per cent!’ I fancy that big time’.

So far, those who have signed have been a mixture of experienced players and young hotshots who have been making waves. Wotton said: “You always got your finger on the pulse, to a point, and you’ve always got a recruitment list - players you have managed against and you think, he’s a good player, I’d like to sign him.

“Agents are constantly calling and I am being serious, I’ve been having to charge my phone half way through the day, it has just been relentless. And you can’t not take a call because you don’t know who you are missing out on. It might be a player you don’t know, and then you have got to do your research on him for a yes or no.

“The biggest thing when I have been speaking to players. First and foremost it hasn’t been wanting to join or wages it has been ‘where’s the club? What’s going on?

“They are quite within their rights to ask that - it is a question that I asked as well before I got the job, and then it was just about making sure they were knowledgeable about the current situation, and calm about it, and then that turns into excitement and then you get into wages and signing. There have been a lot of similar conversations, definitely.”

Wotton is still waiting for answers from Dean Moxey, Brad Ash and Ollie Tomlinson, to whom he has offered new contracts, while some fans looked at the list of players not offered new deals and wondered if it was ‘a bit ruthless’. Former club captain Asa Hall is one player that people were surprised to see on the released list.

But Wotton said: “I’m not so sure it is ruthless. I think, when you are dealing in large numbers it might come across as that, but some of those players that I spoke to have chosen to move on. And that’s fine, that’s football.

“Because we are dealing in big numbers, it is a big re-building, but it’s new - and I haven’t had to sell the club to the players because they know they want to play for Torquay. The boys we have signed so far want to play for Torquay.

“Asa was someone I played with at Oxford United, a couple of games, and I hold him in high regard. From a football point of view, it is as simple as I decided to go down a different route. Simple as that.

“My assistant manager Mike Edwards was someone I wanted to bring in, It’s nothing against Asa, I think he was a tremendous servant for Torquay United. I should have spoken to him before I did. I am very, very honest and I have got no problem saying that.”

Honesty is a good policy - and it comes with a new openness that has been instilled by the new owners, the Bryn Consortium. No longer are requests for chats being left unanswered like they were under the previous regime; no longer is communication a dirty word at Plainmoor. Positivity is definitely the right work to use.

“It’s lovely to come to work,” said Wotton. “There are lots of people who wake up every day and don’t want to go to work. It’s great and I am really enjoying it. We start back on June 27 and it can’t come quick enough.”