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WIR Second Coming

Where (& why) has the Team Spirit gone

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Before the last couple of weeks, it seemed like whenever I found myself in conversation about the Rovers and their start back in the Championship, I'd invariably end up saying something along the lines of, "it is really good to see the players working hard right through each game to get something out." I'd sometimes even remark about the apparent new and revived spirit throughout the way we played, which had taken root in our League 1 adventure. We were now, I'd go on, normally a team that would keep battling and battling until every final whistle... 

So, now that we are seeing stories in the local rag about players blaming each other for the gutless displays served up at knobend and piesville athletic, I am wondering what has happened for what seemed to be shaping up to be a cohesive and tenacious team, to now have the resolve and confidence of a bunch of 9 year olds versus dads.

Any ideas? Has the spirit just drained away? Are we such a bunch of nomark primadonnas that whatever was there before was actually just an illusion? Will we ever get or mojo back? 

Thoughts??

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As has been said before on here, it's easy to build up a team spirit when you're winning all the time, as we were during most of last season. We didn't even have to play particularly well to win matches. That sense of determination carried over into this season, but finally seems to have cracked. I imagine the first fractures began to appear when we got murdered by Bristol City and Derby (even though the latter was a draw, we deserved to lose that one heavily too). We have been getting less convincing by the week and it feels like we're getting close to rock bottom with the last two "performances". 

How we react in the next few matches will show how much character and spirit this group really have.  

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Team spirit will only get you so far. To push on we really have to have a few better players than we currently do.

Mowbray has often talked about 'artists and soldiers' but recently we have had neither.

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The team so far has been mainly the one that won us promotion but has probably reached the end of the road and needs breaking up.  

This is a big test for Mowbray who now has to cast off his loyalties to players who have done well in the past, but are not quite good enough for this level, and manage the transition while getting good results.   That will require him to show faith in the players he signed in the summer by playing them more regularly, and  bringing in reinforcements in the January window. Everyone knows where are weak. 

A good manager  would be able to do it. Can Mowbray ? 

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I've been reading about Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea in todays paper.  After they lost their FIRST competitive match of the season he had all the players in on an individual basis, 10 minutes at a time, to find out what went wrong.

He said -"  I had to think about everything because we played very badly, a match without determination.

That's not normal. We have to understand why, especially from the mental point of view. It's difficult for me to understand why we played without determination in such an important match.

If you don't have determination, you have no motivation, maybe you don't have clear targets in mind."

Maybe our lot don't have clear targets in mind.

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Just now, Tom Stinny said:

How many players in the entire squad do people think are good enough for championship level?

Players I'm confident are good enough for this level:

Dack (despite recent form)
Graham
Raya
Mulgrew
Reed
Bennett

Should be good enough, but question marks or not seen enough of to judge:

Nyambe
Rodwell
Armstrong
Rothwell
Davenport
Brereton
Lenihan
Travis
Tomlinson
Evans
Conway (as a sub)
Palmer

Not good enough:

Williams
Bell
Downing
Leutwiler
Smallwood
Samuel
Gladwin
Nuttall

So... still a decent amount of players who could stick around and be useful, with a small chunk who I would be showing the door to ASAP. Thanks for that League 1 campaign lads, but we're trying to move to the next level now.

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23 minutes ago, jim mk2 said:

The team so far has been mainly the one that won us promotion but has probably reached the end of the road and needs breaking up.  

This is a big test for Mowbray who now has to cast off his loyalties to players who have done well in the past, but are not quite good enough for this level, and manage the transition while getting good results.   That will require him to show faith in the players he signed in the summer by playing them more regularly, and  bringing in reinforcements in the January window. Everyone knows where are weak. 

A good manager  would be able to do it. Can Mowbray ? 

Agree with the above. We're learning a lot more about the players as the season unfolds. Who's really good enough to kick on at Championship level and hopefully beyond?

Probably only definitely Raya, Nyambe, Reed and Dack (when he's up for it)

Palmer, Rothwell, Brereton, maybe but we don't really know for sure as yet because TM won't give them the chance.

As for the team spirit thing I think it's most likely the players are simply bemused by and not buying into things like the "false 9" bollux, having 8 defensive outfield players on the pitch and no real out ball and seeing your main striker being substituted to make way for a defender when you're one down.

It is of course not impossible that something has upset the players over the interational break. Mulgrew not beig allowed to play for Scotland, Dack being told he is moving/can't move in Jan, the squad getting upset about the treatment of certain players on their behalf etc etc. However the team spirit seemed exceptional during the promotion season and at the start of this season up to and including West Brom so you would expect TM would have enough credit in the Bank with the players for them to shrug off a disagreement and take it on the chinand het on with things  rather than down tools.

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We went down with more or less the same defence, ok they got us back up but we are back to them struggling again at this level which is what a few of us feared might happen.

Build from the back or in our case rebuild from the back, Mulgrew is about the only genuinely big guy we have yet he's not a robust type defender and he struggled with the muck and bullets of this league last time. Good footballer but not a commanding enough presence he needs a Hanley beside him and we need to forget about wing backs and get a solid back 4 who know and do their jobs in tandem.

Then again the two deep sitting defensive mids who are supposed to protect the back 4 was a problem last time as we got overrun time and again in the middle at Champ level, Evans & Lowe has become Evans usually & Smallwood. If they aren't winning balls and protecting the back 4 they aren't much use because they don't create a thing or control the tempo.

That's exactly were i'd start, at the back !

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13 minutes ago, tomphil said:

We went down with more or less the same defence, ok they got us back up but we are back to them struggling again at this level which is what a few of us feared might happen.

Build from the back or in our case rebuild from the back, Mulgrew is about the only genuinely big guy we have yet he's not a robust type defender and he struggled with the muck and bullets of this league last time. Good footballer but not a commanding enough presence he needs a Hanley beside him and we need to forget about wing backs and get a solid back 4 who know and do their jobs in tandem.

Then again the two deep sitting defensive mids who are supposed to protect the back 4 was a problem last time as we got overrun time and again in the middle at Champ level, Evans & Lowe has become Evans usually & Smallwood. If they aren't winning balls and protecting the back 4 they aren't much use because they don't create a thing or control the tempo.

That's exactly were i'd start, at the back !

Agree with that.  Thought we still looked shaky at the back last season but we could outscore teams.  We've been crying out for a dominant CB since Samba left!  Duffy did it for a while before throwing his toys out.  We have 2 left backs that can neither attack or defend adequately and Nyambe at RB who I think has promise but is still learning.  We need an old experienced warhorse at the back (oh for an Andy Todd).  Despite it being obvious for a couple of years, we still don't have that ball playing midfielder that can sit and dictate.  Whittington failed miserably and Davenport (potentially) is never fit. Don't get me started on the lack of width...

Edited by Wing Wizard Windy Miller

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5 minutes ago, Wing Wizard Windy Miller said:

Agree with that.  Thought we still looked shaky at the back last season but we could outscore teams.  We've been crying out for a dominant CB since Samba left!  Duffy did it for a while before throwing his toys out.  We have 2 left backs that can neither attack or defend adequately and Nyambe at RB who I think has promise but is still learning.  We need an old experienced warhorse at the back (oh for an Andy Todd).  Despite it being obvious for a couple of years, we still don't have that ball playing midfielder that can sit and dictate.  Whittington failed miserably and Davenport (potentially) is never fit. Don't get me started on the lack of width...

Lack of width is another one especially with the two defensive mids as when they win the ball they should be slipping it quickly out to the wings to counter attack, that has actually served us well at times against the right opposition even though we've no proper wingers. Only works in certain games though so most of the time there is zero created or many good forward passes coming from centre mid.

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Just now, tomphil said:

Lack of width is another one especially with the two defensive mids as when they win the ball they should be slipping it quickly out to the wings to counter attack, that has actually served us well at times against the right opposition even though we've no proper wingers. Only works in certain games though so most of the time there is zero created or many good forward passes coming from centre mid.

Scary how bleeding obvious it is.  Lack of width with natural wide players combined with the ever-present defensive midfield 2 is TM's achilles heel IMO.  We can't 'go at' teams by getting wide runners on the ball.  Then end up hoofing when they press us.  

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8 hours ago, RevidgeBlue said:

things like the "false 9" bollux,

Ah yes the "false 9" and other associated total nonsense spouted by "expert" commentators who are nothing more than end of career pros squeezing a few more ££££s out of the game. All of which is eagerly lapped up by a gullible audience before being regurgitated in the pub.

"False 9" means we don't have a striker available so we are going to stick the bloke most likely to score in that position.

Football, and our squad and manager would do well to remember, is simple. We have defenders, midfielders and attacking players. Each has to work hard in their role and help with other aspects of the game such as defending from the front. Good players pass the ball, bad ones hoof it long for someone else to deal with. We have a mix of passers and hoofers.

As for the team spirit. I'm sure it's still there. We had a poor performance at Preston and a diabolical one at Wigan - the worst league performance under Mowbray, we have been even worse in at least one cup game. It's human nature to fall out and argue after such a performance. I would fully expect seasoned pros like Mulgrew and Graham to have something to say in particular to players like Dack who has failed to contribute for weeks.

However the world hasn't ended, no one died, the sky hasn't fallen in. I'm confident team spirit will return on Saturday and Tony will sort out the problems. I would drop Dack, play Brereton with Graham so the lad can learn from a proper professional footballer while Danny is still around. Don't ask me how but I'd like to see Bennet, available?, and Rothwell in there. I think, much as I hate to say it, we defended better without Mulgrew. To an extent I think the other defenders constantly look to Mulgrew to sort everything out. This was very much in evidence last season but this year Charlie isn't coping with it so well.

It's no time to panic but a real shame we've missed great opportunities. This week alone we could have gone sixth and other games with more concentration the same, at least, applies. I'm sure both manager and players know this.

Myself I'm disappointed but not angry and on occasion last season I was angry. It was noticeable amongst the fans at the DW there was little anger just tangible disappointment we could play so badly following a poor performance at Deepdale.

Edited by Paul

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DE had it in one.

The reason we had (have?) a good team spirit is because we went on a run from Oldham away in October to sealing promotion losing just one game. Of course, bonds will be formed and confidence will flow and that extra bit of effort, to chase and harry the operation is a result.

After that debacle at Oldham I don’t think many of us trudging out saw a wonderous spirit that day.

Many promoted teams then carry on with momentum and that confidence. When that inevitably wears off, the limitations of the players are exposed. There are still a lot of players around the squad from the Lambert/McDonut era. It’s generally the same defence that went down, midfield regulars that also haven’t really pulled up any trees at this level - Smallwood, Bennett, Evans. Lads unproven at this level - Armstrong, Rothwell, even Dack. And an ageing striker that looks to be losing effectiveness.

Its now the manager’s job to upgrade the team. Think of 2001, out goes Filan, in comes Friedel, out goes Berkovic, in comes Tugay. Out goes Bent, in comes Andy Cole. Different times, different level, but the premise is the same.

The noises from India seem to be fairly positive (I know, I know, fool me once and all that), so let’s hope we see some changes over the next couple of windows.

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I think it's a terrible knee jerk reaction to just suggest that the "team spirit" has gone over these last two weeks, it has been two terrible performances but this was always going to happen at a higher level.

I can point at Williams, Bell, Smallwood, Evans, Bennett, and potentially the likes of Armstrong (out wide) and Rodwell (at CH) as not being good enough for this level, you might be able to get away with one or two of them and have a decent mid table season (like we are having at present) but put them all in the same side week after week and eventually you will slide down the table.

I can't understand why since Bolton away, we haven't started another game with Rodwell & Reed in the middle, I think that's potentially a really good partnership at this level that has a bit of everything. Evans and Smallwood looked like they were running through sand on Wednesday night, I thought at times last season that partnership looked a bit tired, and whilst both have had some ok games this season I personally wouldn't be starting with either.

I'd like to see Bennett, Reed, Rodwell & Rothwell across the midfield, keep Dack in his favourite "10" position off Brereton for a bit, Graham could be ideal to bring on around 60/70 mins to help kill a game off.

 

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He's says he needs two or three windows to get a squad together challenging yet he's handing out new contracts to players that have been here years. I'm not saying some , even most don't deserve them but the signings he's made can't dislodge ageing players that have taken us nowhere. If he is rebuilding then why is he handing out new contracts left right and centre. Surly the deals most where on had enough time on them to cover the transfer window time frame he has set to improve the team

In his interviews he talks sense and makes me believe we can build and move forward but his actions contradict everything he says.

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10 hours ago, tomphil said:

We went down with more or less the same defence, ok they got us back up but we are back to them struggling again at this level which is what a few of us feared might happen.

Build from the back or in our case rebuild from the back, Mulgrew is about the only genuinely big guy we have yet he's not a robust type defender and he struggled with the muck and bullets of this league last time. Good footballer but not a commanding enough presence he needs a Hanley beside him and we need to forget about wing backs and get a solid back 4 who know and do their jobs in tandem.

Then again the two deep sitting defensive mids who are supposed to protect the back 4 was a problem last time as we got overrun time and again in the middle at Champ level, Evans & Lowe has become Evans usually & Smallwood. If they aren't winning balls and protecting the back 4 they aren't much use because they don't create a thing or control the tempo.

That's exactly were i'd start, at the back !

I agree. If only we had £7million to spend on rest of the team.

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Actions speak louder than words. It's as simple as that for me.

A good team performance and a win against Sheffield Wednesday and it goes some way to exorcising the ghosts of the last two horror shows. 

Edited by K-Hod

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6 minutes ago, Tyrone Shoelaces said:

I agree. If only we had £7million to spend on rest of the team.

It would have bought a few good defenders that's for sure, never increase in value significantly like forwards though...........

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2 hours ago, Mattyblue said:

DE had it in one.

The reason we had (have?) a good team spirit is because we went on a run from Oldham away in October to sealing promotion losing just one game. Of course, bonds will be formed and confidence will flow and that extra bit of effort, to chase and harry the operation is a result.

After that debacle at Oldham I don’t think many of us trudging out saw a wonderous spirit that day.

Many promoted teams then carry on with momentum and that confidence. When that inevitably wears off, the limitations of the players are exposed. There are still a lot of players around the squad from the Lambert/McDonut era. It’s generally the same defence that went down, midfield regulars that also haven’t really pulled up any trees at this level - Smallwood, Bennett, Evans. Lads unproven at this level - Armstrong, Rothwell, even Dack. And an ageing striker that looks to be losing effectiveness.

Its now the manager’s job to upgrade the team. Think of 2001, out goes Filan, in comes Friedel, out goes Berkovic, in comes Tugay. Out goes Bent, in comes Andy Cole. Different times, different level, but the premise is the same.

The noises from India seem to be fairly positive (I know, I know, fool me once and all that), so let’s hope we see some changes over the next couple of windows.

That's how you build teams. You may start off with average players but you gradually replace them with good players. Then you replace the good players with excellent players. if you have the dosh you eventually replace the excellent players with the cream of the game. You have to be constantly evolving, your two least effective players have to be replaced every close season. I don't mean bringing in players that might be as good, I mean players who are in  a definite class above and are the first names on the team sheet. As far as I can see we haven't done that, we're still playing the team that we had last season with the exception of Reed.

We made the same mistake of thinking everything was rosy when we won the Prem. We should have gone out to get a top class centre half to replace Peace and a top class left winger to replace Wilcox. I'd have been considering along term replacement for Sherwood also but two at a time is enough, For one thing it stops the rest getting complacent !

City will probably walk the Prem again this season but you can bet your life they'll strengthen their squad again in Summer.

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Just now, tomphil said:

It would have bought a few good defenders that's for sure, never increase in value significantly like forwards though...........

What are we running here Tom ? A football club or an investment bank ?

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13 hours ago, WIR Second Coming said:

 

Thoughts??

Yea, considering that the WBA game was a only a month ago this week, I’d find it hard to believe that our “team spirit has gone”

If anything - the next few games will be the first test for the atmosphere since we’ve mainly been on an upwards curve for the last 12 months!

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