Am liking the debate. Mansell is the interesting one in this. It wasn't until Pompey away, when he wasn't selected, that I got sucked into this myself. I felt relieved. An odd feeling at a non-selection of a Torquay player, but something borne out of a much decreasing effectiveness of his play.
It was never much more than passion and hard work that made him popular, with one very good season, but the advancing years haven't been good. Certainly in the last two seasons. I'm sure his move to Bristol Rovers is good for player and TUFC alike. I don't begrudge him that as he has given us long service which I'll happily blindingly credit any TUFC player for.
I'll come clean. And Chris H will give me pelters for this. Years ago I exchanged emails Mike Bateson to say I would chip in to a signing on fee for Danny Hollands - whatever happened to him? ;-) - if we could get him. When he gave me the bad news, but told me 'Ian has got someone in who he thinks can do an even better job' I got fleeced after the event for a few bob, but I'd had a good year. I thought he was alright back then and pleased when he became skipper. Just goes to show how things can change. And his season with Eunan and Lathrope was a belter.
Anyway - all that said, I reserve the right to call him a Judas for going to Rovers. It's a simple pleasure, but one I may not be able to resist over the festive period. Perhaps with a smile and a thumbs up to the man.
I reckon Downes could have an alright season at this level, although I'd prefer to see Angus partner Pearce, rather than him being at right back. Like may, left back is what's worrying me most. Hargreaves, for me, was an appointment I wouldn't have minded to have happened after relegation rather than before.
My own pro-Lingism has been an overly long hang-up, but I have not seen any reason to dissuade me that Hargreaves can't get performances and his period in the youth department at Exeter and Bournemouth convinces me he must have something already about him when it comes to getting the best out of younger players. His inherited playing staff was shot to bits when he took over. I didn't understand why the two formations at Pompey and Wimbledon were never tried again, but I expect a new Manager such as him has learned much from his own mistakes and experience already. Benefit of the doubt for me.
I'll end on a balanced note, though. I like the sound of all the new signings. Hawley looked quite poor whenever I saw him and Benyon is plop.
Last two seasons haven't been good for anyone really and maybe his perceived decline due to more than advancing years?Agreed that the 11/12 season was his best by a long way - maybe the creativity of Eunan and the defensive qualities of Lathrope were complementary to his style of play raising expectations, also Ling got the best out of him - scored about half of his goals with us in that one season - were any better than scoring that winner against Argyle at Home Park right in front of 2000 Torquay fans? Funny enough, the young opposition player scoring his first league goal that day is now Mansell's replacement! Played at right back during our promotion season and had a lot of success but ultimately, three career relegations out of the football league is one heck of a millstone, two with us, might be some sort of record even?
The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.
The vast "silent majority" of fans are perfectly capable of understanding players' strengths AND weaknesses.
The serious point here is that, like it or not, the flawed footballer is part of our history and fabric. We're accustomed to it; we shouldn't expect perfection. Yet we should expect players to be of a standard appropriate to our level. This means that, set against every footballer in the land, they're going to be pretty good. But others will be better. They'll have their strengths and weaknesses and I think Lambeth recognises this when he speaks of not getting involved in "a massive bunfight over the relative merits of a manger/player/board at a poorly resourced fourth or fifth tier football club".
Surprise, surprise but we've pretty much always had players broadlyappropriate to our status and standing. This would, naturally enough, include a degree of variation. In every Torquay side over the years there would have been a mixture of players playing slightly above - or below - their (and our) station or at just the right level. It's then a question of balance and proportion. History records that certain eras would have seen a fortunate combination of players above our normal standard. We rightly cherish those times but would be unwise to use them as a yardstick. Likewise, you have to assume, there have been other periods when too many players fell below an acceptable line. Last season, surely, came within that category.
Nor is it just a question of the basic capability of players. There's also the issue of where they were within their particular careers at the time. That, you sense, was a consideration last season. Players who weren't good enough and players who weren't as good as they once were. Nor were there too many who showed promise of eventually being good enough. All in all that meant there were hardly any players performing to a desirable standard. That's worthy of mention; it's hard to ignore.
Lee Mansell? Kevin Nicholson? I imagine we could draw graphs of their performance levels (and worth) over the seasons plotted against a "line of acceptability". Anything above colour black; anything below colour red. Not too sure about using the gold crayon for "beyond a legend" performances but there'd still be more than enough black on my chart even if I may have been tempted to tear off a strip beyond the end of 2012. But, as it happens, neither I or the club really had that luxury. And, as RJD reminds us, that period wasn't exactly good for anybody.
Played at right back during our promotion season and had a lot of success but ultimately, three career relegations out of the football league is one heck of a millstone, two with us, might be some sort of record even?
I'm sure I've seen it mentioned that Justin Walker was involved in three successive relegations with Exeter, York and Cambridge. But check it out and it's not quite what it seems. York was a loan which finished before the end of the season. Walker was a regular for Cambridge but didn't play in the final games.
What three relegations says about Lee Mansell, I'm not sure. It's certainly - how to put it? - "unfortunate" and I'd imagine the third relegation, when he was captain, would rankle the most and portray him in the poorest light. He could, and I imagine he does, also point to being a member of fourth-tier play-off teams in successive seasons. That's not to be overlooked together with two excellent Conference seasons.
I sense the most this tells us is that Lee Mansell was a standard fourth-tier player who, after initially playing at a slightly-higher level with Luton, wasn't quite good enough to win a contract with a club that was likely to move upwards. Historically this makes him a pretty typical Torquay United player. The unusual aspect, in the modern context, is that he played for eight successive seasons.
This would have been unremarkable in the past and I note Alan Merson, writing on BTPIR, has made a comparison between Lee Mansell and Ian Twitchin.
That's an interesting one to ponder. Twitchin stayed the longer and played more games. He was probably a less demonstrative individual but arguably no better or worse a player than Mansell. Yet Alan Merson goes as far as describing Twitchin as the "forgotten man of Plainmoor".
Well, I'll declare an interest here. Ian Twitchin is four years older than me; he played for Torquay United when I was aged between fifteen and twenty-five. I watched the club frequently during those years but I'll admit that part of me (at the time) was trying to "grow away" from the idea of being a Torquay United supporter or even a Torquinian for that matter. I'm afraid I can hardly remember a thing about Ian Twitchin. Yet I know he was a versatile and dependable player who offered the club decent value over an extended period of time. He was a constant presence in an unremarkable era. He did a job for us but never seemed likely to play for another Football League club. Could the same, indeed, have been said later of Kevin Hill?
Now I'm sure there are those, maybe a few years younger than myself, who will remember "Twitch" more fondly and more vividly. Yet I believe Alan Merson is correct in stating that Ian Twitchin is somewhat forgotten and overlooked. I wish he wasn't and I'd like both him and Lee Mansell to be equally remembered by future generations.
The difference between Twitchin and Mansell may largely be the thirty years that separate their dates of birth. Twitchin played at a time when expressions such as "dependable" and "loyal servant" were very much in vogue. By Mansell's time the language was more likely to include words such as "legend" and "inspirational presence". To me there's a big difference in meaning and effect; to others maybe not so much at all.
So Ian Twitchin; Lee Mansell; Kevin Hill. What's the difference? Perhaps, in footballing terms, very little. How would you rank order them? At his best, I'd put Mansell to the fore.
But again, in terms of impact and visibility, Mansell played in a different time to Twitchin. Mansell was able to negotiate a decent financial package on the basis of dependability. Social media meant that - whether Mansell cultivated it or not - he could become a talked-about "personality" in a way that was probably only open to leading goal-scorers in Twitchin's day. Mansell also enjoyed the advantage of playing in rather more interesting teams and times - for all their ups and downs - than the dull 1970s when Ian Twitchin made the bulk of his four hundred-odd appearances. In this way I guess Mansell becomes, to use another contemporary expression, more of a "stand-out figure".
Agreed that the 11/12 season was his best by a long way - maybe the creativity of Eunan and the defensive qualities of Lathrope were complementary to his style of play raising expectations, also Ling got the best out of him
Whether it be Rene Howe, Danny Stevens, Mark Ellis, Billy Bodin or even Cap'n Manse himself, it's quite fitting to acknowledge that Martin Ling could bring out performances from these players that some other Managers with their particular styles and tactics have not been able to.
While 2011/12 is rightly highlighted as a particularly fine season from Manse, the number of times his name appeared on the scoresheet is probably a big influence in coming to that decision. Manse's main strength though, was surely in what he brought to the team when we didn't have the ball, and his ability to close down and immediately harry opposing players into a rushed pass, or to close off their passing options or to hit them with a strong tackle while still in possession were trademarks of his play. Manse's immense energy allowed him to perform this vital task from first minute to last. While there were aspects of his play that could be described as less that spectacular, his ability to stop the opposition midfield from performing as they wished was exceptional, and greatly missed on many occasions when Manse was absent from the side.
Even if we look at a few of the seasons preceding 2011/12, then as always, a variety of players would have the occasional good game marking them out as Man Of The Match'. I'd maintain that for a great many of those games, match in, match out, Manse would consistently be the second or third best performer, and to be able to rely on that standard of performance on a regular basis is a godsend to a Manager.
Even if we agree that Manse ended his career with a particularly poor season, I think it worth remembering that last year all he did was what he'd done in ever other season he'd been with us; try his hardest for the team in every match in which he was selected to play. And of course, all joking aside, Manse only played because someone else selected him for the team. If Manse's best wasn't as good as someone else at the club could provide then select them instead.
Comparisons have been made between Buckle leaving us to join Rovers, and Manse now making a move in the same direction. But while we offered Buckle an improved contract in the hope of persuading him to stay, it's possibly not stretching reality too far to say we offered Cap'n Manse sufficiently less money in the hope of persuading him to leave.
I haven't yet read any convincing points that give validation to 'Judus' accusations being thrown at Manse, and on that basis I'm still hopeful (probably naively) that it will only be a tiny minority who will forget Manse's many years of loyal service to the club and choose to abuse him instead next season when our paths cross.
I shall be taking advantage of the infuriatingly good natured environment provided by the TFF and its members (as astutely observed by our old friend Lambeth) to keep us all up to date with Cap'n Manse's exploits at Rovers. I think the existing 'A Legend Departs' thread will be ideal to record how the iconic No.7, now wearing blue and white quarters is urging his new team on towards promotion....or not, as the case may be.
I'm disappointed not to be able to get along to the game at Exeter today, but this large 'Welcome Home Legendary Cap'n Manse' banner won't make itself, so I'll be putting a bit of time in on it now so it'll be ready for later in the season.
Like it, Alpine. I'll stand to your right with '....... You Judas' on mine. And, as you'd expect, I couldn't agree more regarding Ling and getting the best out of limited or inexperienced players. In time, I think that will be a key part of Hargreaves' armoury as well.