THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Gary Johnson has brought stability to Whaddon Road

icon maidstone129 January ~ In 2014-15, Cheltenham Town fielded 42 players, the majority picked up from the loan system and free transfers. Of course, these are the two most common sources of incoming players for League Two clubs, who simply do not have the means to spend money on transfer fees, however the sheer volume of playing personnel at Whaddon Road last season was remarkable.

In November 2014, former playing favourite Mark Yates was sacked as the Robins slid down the League Two table after five years of relative stability merged with some success. His successor Paul Buckle got 79 days, as he was unable to arrest the slide that Yates had overseen.

Academy head coach Russell Milton had a spell as caretaker, before it was left to Gary Johnson to add another West Country club to his eventful managerial career and salvage Cheltenham’s Football League status. His efforts were in vain and the Robins were relegated after a 16-year stay with a home defeat by Shrewsbury.

Last summer, in preparation for the upcoming National League season, Johnson engineered a complete rehaul of a squad. Eighteen new faces have featured this term but Whaddon Road has been a far happier place, as the Robins lie four points clear of nearest competitors Forest Green ahead of this weekend’s trip to Boreham Wood.

Marshalled well by new captain Aaron Downes at centre-back, and given attacking flair by strike duo Danny Wright and Billy Waters, the Robins have the ability to last the distance, as demonstrated by a battling victory over Kidderminster on Boxing Day.

Johnson is keen for further movement this month, sending back loan players who are unlikely to get any playing time. The Robins boss has also hinted that he would like to bolster his squad with a couple more fresh faces, in addition to the signing of striker Dan Holman this week.

Wrexham, Lincoln and Grimsby have all suffered from being unable to make an immediate return to the League but Cheltenham’s newfound togetherness could allow them to bounce back at the first opportunity. Nick Roberts

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