Gary Johnson has found the magic formula at Yeovil
A seven-match winning streak is a remarkable achievement for any Football League club at the best of times but one assumes you’d have to trawl some way back through the history books to find one as profitable for punters as Yeovil’s right now.
The Glovers have been quoted at odds-against by bookmakers in each of their last seven matches, going off as underdogs in five, all of which means that anyone who rolled them up as a £10 accumulator starting with their 2-1 win over Portsmouth at Fratton Park on December 29 would now be sitting on profits of £46,958.
It’s an extraordinary sequence that includes victories over Sheffield United, MK Dons, Brentford and Coventry to leave the Somerset club just four points behind leaders Bournemouth with a game in hand following Tuesday’s late flourish against Preston, in which they came from behind to score three times in the final 20 minutes.
The manner of that success against Lilywhites was confirmation, if any were needed, that Yeovil have now transcended from a good team playing well to an ultra-confident team that expects to win every game, no matter who the opposition and no matter what the circumstances.
It’s a special dynamic that players tend to talk about in almost spiritual terms, as though the dressing room is somehow joined by another presence. If you could bottle whatever it is, you wouldn’t need accumulators – you’d be fetching nearly fifty grand a drop. However, if you happen to come across it by accident, the man you want in charge is Gary Johnson.
The former Bristol City boss has endured a disappointing career path since things went stale for him at Ashton Gate. Failed stints at Peterborough and Northampton each lasted less than a year, so little was expected when he returned to Huish Park a year ago, not least because it was a move motivated by sentiment on both sides.
Johnson, of course, made his name at Yeovil when bringing them into the Football League a decade ago, achieving a second promotion two years later. Those achievements still stand out, along with another promotion up the A37 and the near-miss of a Championship play-off final defeat in 2008, but why is his CV so chequered?
In all probability, it’s because Johnson’s management style is tailored to uncover such sequences. Long-term orientation is the name of the game but, like drilling for oil, there can be no guarantees in timescale and you have to be prepared to accept any sewage he might dredge up while you’re waiting.
With Johnson, you get the impression that teambuilding is an extremely delicate process. Balance is the buzzword he uses above all others, whether it’s tactical balance, the balance of personalities or finding the right blend of youth and experience. The word is never far from his lips.
So while some managers are more inclined to respond to short-term interruptions by taking short-cuts and finding quick-fix solutions, Johnson keeps plugging away in his relentless search for that magic formula. And it’s only when he strikes upon that formula that he really begins to excel.
At no stage in the past six weeks has Johnson gone overboard in his praise of the Yeovil players. With each prize scalp they take, he retains a level head and reiterates the view that these are standards that have to be maintained. No display is ever hailed as a milestone and there’s an obvious appreciation that confidence comes from within, it cannot be given, multiplied or taken away by a manager through his comments to the media.
Therefore, it would be dangerous for the doubters to assume that Yeovil’s run is just a flash in the pan. Johnson’s reputation has faded gradually ever since his Wembley heartache against Hull five years ago, but he has been in this position numerous times before. Right now, the Glovers couldn’t be in better hands.football
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