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Transfers 2019-20 Review

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I've done a few of these now assessing the previous year''s transfers. I think I started doing this back in League 1 to help me process TM's work in the transfer market, and if nothing else, the last few years have certainly made for interesting debate as to how our transfer business (and TM)  have done. We're coming up to the end of the season, and since Rovers have evidently signed off early, I thought it would be fine for me to do likewise and wouldn't hurt for this to be a couple of games early. As it is I'm not sure too much will change in the last couple of matches to make this review obsolete. As ever, I'm really interested in others thoughts on our transfer business. So here goes. 

 

It should be said that in some ways this is a rehash of last December's review, given that there were no new signings in January. The more I think about this the more inexplicable this is for so many reasons.

Firstly there was the injury to Dack. Given we had lost our best player, to make no adjustments and sign no one as cover is incredible. Fortunately Armstrong took over the role of pinch hitter - who saw that coming? - but even if there was a suspicion that he could do this, there was evident need to share out the burden of Dack's influence. Given TM has at times commented on missing Dack, to not make any move to replace whatsoever, seems a tad odd.

Cunningham's injury and a threadbare defence is another shocker as to why there were no buys. The defence looked thin when Cunningham was fit, without him it looked threadbare. Given his injury was even further before the transfer window than Dack's again it seems incredible we didn't replace him. We've since had Williams covering two positions, and Bennett drop to new lows at left back. Again, this all seemed pretty needless. We've been very fortunate Lenihen hasn't had a more typical season injury wise for him.

Thirdly, we were meant to be chasing playoffs. I'm not saying we should have gone crazy but a little bit of extra help may have seen us mount a more successful push for playoffs.Even had it not been for the two crucial injuries that needed replacing, the idea that a bit of fresh blood could have injected a bit of energy and competition into the squad seems like something we really could have done with. Especially given the players and formations didn't always seem a natural fit. 

So whilst it's not a signing as such, TM's omission to sign anybody in January, given the huge need, is a huge failure of omission imo, and needs to be factored into evaluating our transfer dealings. 

 

As for the signings themselves, with the benefit of a year of playing, here are my thoughts. 

Walton - 2

If you had asked me pre lock down it probably would have been a 5. A poor half of the season was seeming to be offset somewhat by some solid performances, although that in part just accentuated the problem of having a loan keeper. Since then Walton has shown that his first half of the season wasn't simply an adjustment period and has (bar the West Brom game) put in some of the most abject performances of any keeper in a Rovers shirt, costing us a number of points. So two thirds of a season he has been horrific, we don't own a first choice keeper so it doesn't matter if there's potential in there (his few good performances suggest that he might become decent in a number of years) .and he cost us a lot of points. Meanwhile we swapped out a keeper with potential who's done pretty well, had a lot of potential and was ours. I genuinely don't think we could have handled this any worse. 

Tosin - 9

Brilliant signing. Links into the style we like to play, has looked super solid with Lenihen, and has been excellent for us. It's a shame he was only on loan. A few errors as a young defender, but few calamitous and given his overall talent, had he no errors in him he'd have been playing for City. Great signing marred only slightly by the fact he was one of three of a back line that was temporary. Hopefully (but unlikely) we can get him back next season. 

Johnson - 3.5

You don't buy someone of his wages to be a squad player. On his day he can be very, very good and there were some good spells from him. However, these 45 minute spells were often let down by fitness, his legs weren't up to sustaining that level of performance even when performing well. And if his good performances were strong, his poor performances were terrible, bordering on cardboard cut out. So 50:50 whether we get a good or bad game, and even the good won't last for more than 60 minutes. There have been spells when he has been out of the team (for a big chunk of the first half of the season I think) and his age means that his fitness problems aren't going to get any better. Also given he's behind Evans in the pecking order, and we haven't got better than Evans in 6 transfer windows, you really feel he's failed to do what he has been brought in to do. I guess he's better than Smallwood, but meh, that's a low bar indeed. Given he was envisaged as a first team regular and clearly isn't capable of that either on a performance or consistency basis, then he can only really be classed as a poor signing to me. 

Cunningham - N/A

Unfair to rate, but looked promising in the few games he played. However, as Armstrong and Walton have shown in different respects (one good, one bad) this season, using a handful of games as a snap shot isn't really enough to judge a player on. He could have been excellent, but equally could have tailed off. Unfair to judge or praise TM off the back of so few performances from this guy. 

Downing - 9

 Great free transfer, adding versatility, width and creativity. He also, sad incitement of our defence as it is, is the best left back we have with Cunningham injured too. All in all an excellent signing, who has performed consistently well in a variety of roles. Ina  small squad with a mediocre budget this quality in versatility cannot be underplayed. Personally would have liked to see him more wide left in a 4-2-3-1 supplying crosses to our strikers, but wherever he has played (bar the false 9) he has looked solid and consistent. The only negative is his age, but a very astute free transfer who I think could have been the final piece of the jigsaw had other transfers worked out. Very clever move. 

Holtby - 8

Really liked the look of Holtby and thought he was a clever signing. Bags of talent and looks rather good whenever I have seen him plau. I've limited him to an 8 (maybe 7.5) though as in terms of actual end product, there doesn't seem to have been as much as I had hoped/expected for the level of his talent. Happy to be corrected on this, but for an excellent talent,it doesn't seem to end in much. That said I think some of his link up play with Armstrong and Dack at times has been fantastic, and unlike some of other players there's plenty of time for him to develop in this. 

Gally - 2

 At least there's been a few goals. But like Bereton he cost a ton of money, leaving us short elsewhere. The money could have been invested in a much needed strengthening of defence or a keeper. He doesn't fit the wide right role that he is often shoved into. And whilst not his fault he's being played out of position, it makes his transfer all the more baffling. He doesn't look like having a strikers instincts either, and I don't like his attitude. Apart from that, he's been a great buy.

 

So on paper 6 signings, 3 excellent, 3 very poor. with an average score (rounding up) of 5.6.That seems decent on the face of it. But when the omission of not buying anyone when blatantly needed in January is factored in, the fact the majority of the budget was blown on a failure, and the longevity of many of the signings, good and bad, was 1 season - the likelihood is that 4 of this year's signings need replacing - you really think that this had been a bad year in the transfer market. Given that's included the successes of Tosin and Downing, it's pretty shocking when looking at the overall picture to see how badly this year's recruitment has been handled.  It doesn't give me much confidence for the future.   

   

 

 

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Just now, Amo said:

Think you've been extremely generous with Holtby.

Me to nothing above a 6

Dosent particularly stand out as having one key talent, jack of all master of none is how he’s come across to me. Even my brother Liverpool fan said the other day I’m surprised Holtby hasn’t made much impact.

Now that’s partially due to Mowbray, remember when that moron kept him out the first 8 games or so even though he was fit as he needed to learn the defensive side of the game 😤 this a lad who’s played CL, Internationals for Germany and played many games in the PL for Spurs and Fulham. His injury record has been poor, niggles then his knee. Just hasn’t added much if I’m honest I’ve been disappointed. 

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Think the OP has been harsh on Johnson and generous with Holtby. 
Barring that though, I’m pretty much in agreement. 

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Just now, K-Hod said:

Think the OP has been harsh on Johnson and generous with Holtby. 
Barring that though, I’m pretty much in agreement. 

Johnson was the one that excited Me along with Holtby the most. I thought we had a real player in Johnson. Instead I’ve seen an overweight chunky lad out of breath after twenty mins flagging every game he’s played. Literally the stamina of a sloth. He’s played like a sloth too constantly slow or second to every ball, his touch has been horrendous the amount of times he’s lost the ball in possession trying to control it has irritated me greatly. I had to laugh last week as he was telling Arma and everyone to push up on the pitch, this a guy who sits so deep due to his appalling fitness. 
 

Couldn't be arsed finding digs up here stays in Derby probably due to family reasons, made no effort to get fitter, literally I’d be happy to offload him. His good games have been a handful I think 50:50 is generous. Been a 5 for me especially as he gave it the hard being out the team interview and since coming back after lockdown has put those performances in!  

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Just now, Scotland1 said:

Johnson was the one that excited Me along with Holtby the most. I thought we had a real player in Johnson. Instead I’ve seen an overweight chunky lad out of breath after twenty mins flagging every game he’s played. Literally the stamina of a sloth. He’s played like a sloth too constantly slow or second to every ball, his touch has been horrendous the amount of times he’s lost the ball in possession trying to control it has irritated me greatly. I had to laugh last week as he was telling Arma and everyone to push up on the pitch, this a guy who sits so deep due to his appalling fitness. 
 

Couldn't be arsed finding digs up here stays in Derby probably due to family reasons, made no effort to get fitter, literally I’d be happy to offload him. His good games have been a handful I think 50:50 is generous. Been a 5 for me especially as he gave it the hard being out the team interview and since coming back after lockdown has put those performances in!  

Listen, I’m not saying he hasn’t been a bit disappointing overall, as he most definitely has.

But he’s contributed much more than the 3.5 he was given, as far as I’m concerned. A 5 at best like....

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Posted (edited)
1 minute ago, K-Hod said:

Listen, I’m not saying he hasn’t been a bit disappointing overall, as he most definitely has.

But he’s contributed much more than the 3.5 he was given, as far as I’m concerned. A 5 at best like....

I agree on a 5 said it above. 5/10 that’s not even average.

to his credit though the nhs mask work was very good but it’s not football. 

Edited by Scotland1

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1 hour ago, Amo said:

Think you've been extremely generous with Holtby.

I agree with that, he's been ok but not amazing.

He's an instant fan favorite because he works hard but overall i think he hasn't really done an awful lot.

Looks like there could be a good player in there but injuries and Mowbray will always hamper him.

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Holtby is perfectly neat and tidy and has a decent football brain, but it doesn't look like he's ever going to be a difference maker at this level, which is perhaps what we were hoping for.

It doesn't help mind when he's asked to play positions he's never played before.

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The issue is the problem goes back a year too and it isnt even the success or lack of when judging individuals. Its the lack of signings made that can help us on anything but a temporary basis. Its the positions that have been repeatedly neglected.

Adarabioyo has been an 8 out of 10 loan, has fit in well but has only stuck a plaster over that problem and for all of his composure he isnt of the defensive quality of Lenihan. Downing has been again an 8 out of 10, altbough again its a short term solution and I think that age has started to creep up on him. Cunningham would have been good but didnt play enough to rate really.

Thats for the good signings. Holtby is a 5 out of 10 for me in again his usage. Hes had good games, Wednesday away, Huddersfield at home but when Dack was fit he struggled to find a home, whether it be from the right or deeper, neither of which he was effective from. And post Dack he himself struggled with niggles over Christmas and New Year and most recently has been tried farcically as a false 9.

Johnson for me at a push a 4 out of 10. Hes been bar one or two very impressive exceptions, been not average but really poor and a liability. He doesnt look fit, i question his committment but moreso why for someone so poor on the half turn why he was signed considering Mowbrays tactical direction. I was excited when he signed but hes been a huge dissapointment and I suspect one on big wages.

Walton is a 3 out of 10, you cant have a keeper making into double figures in terms of mistakes leading to goals. Not only a downgrade on the eccentric Raya but a temporary alternative to a previously long term solution. And Gallagher, 1 out of 10. A poor striker misused as much as anyone. Last night summed it up. No strikers down the middle, Gallagher within feet of the cut outs in the stand.

I think the recruitment horror show goes back since we came up to be honest. You look at least season, add Reed to impressive loan signings, although one totally misused. Rodwell was a fairly poor and again misused freebie. Palmer a poor temporary addition. Rothwell, Chapman and Davenport all pointless additions judging thus far. Brereton the worst of them all. And Armstrong the sole addition that we know can help us moving forward, or more so, sideways.

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I think Rothwell was a good buy at the price but he is used very poorly.

He needs a better manager, he'll probably leave in the summer, go to a new club, have a blinder of a season and we will sadly regret it.

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1 hour ago, phili said:

I think Rothwell was a good buy at the price but he is used very poorly.

He needs a better manager, he'll probably leave in the summer, go to a new club, have a blinder of a season and we will sadly regret it.

Undoubtedly there is raw ability there, but he did his usual thing yesterday. Can he beat people? Yes. Often unnecessarily. He is 25 and didnt join as a player who had regular end product at Oxford. Even when we played them on the last day he wasnt even starting for them. He just strikes me as a player who looks far better on the eye than he actually is.

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18 minutes ago, roversfan99 said:

 Even when we played them on the last day he wasnt even starting for them. 

Well I would suggest you look again cos he started for Oxford against us when we won 2-1. 

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Just now, chaddyrovers said:

Well I would suggest you look again cos he started for Oxford against us when we won 2-1. 

I stand corrected and hold my hands up. He must have really stood out!

Either way, interesting to see you on here correcting pedantics and giving the Mowbray and Millwall threads a wide berth...

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2 hours ago, roversfan99 said:

I stand corrected and hold my hands up. He must have really stood out!

Either way, interesting to see you on here correcting pedantics and giving the Mowbray and Millwall threads a wide berth...

fair enough. 

Not at all giving any threads a wide berth just for the record. I have read those threads you mention tho. 

You know my view on Mowbray as I posted on here in the last 2 weeks. Has my view change? Nope they have not. 

 

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8 minutes ago, chaddyrovers said:

fair enough. 

Not at all giving any threads a wide berth just for the record. I have read those threads you mention tho. 

You know my view on Mowbray as I posted on here in the last 2 weeks. Has my view change? Nope they have not. 

 

If you see progress then nothing wrong with an alternative and detailed review of why you think he should stay. What you have seen that you like.

Asked a few questions regarding this that i quoted you in.

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Some interesting thoughts. On hearing people's well articulated views, I think I may have been overly kind to Holtby. I think I've a couple of mid-season matches in my head where he played really well, heavily influencing my thoughts. So perhaps a 6.5 or 7 may have been more appropriate. Potential wise I think he has a lot in him, so could become a very good signing, which again perhaps influences the rating. A cynic may say him likely to be at Rovers for more than one season is seen as an overwhelming benefit given the rest of the signings but i like to think that it was more potential than a lack of short-term-ism influencing the rating. 

As for Johnson, given his wages, how crap his bad performances are, his fitness issues and the intentions for the player - not to mention he is another short term signing - I stand by the 3.5. Perhaps I'd go as high as a 4 for his good performances but really would struggle to give any more than that. 

Really helpful and interesting to hear what others think. 

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31 minutes ago, roversfan99 said:

If you see progress then nothing wrong with an alternative and detailed review of why you think he should stay. What you have seen that you like.

I did a review to Mercer about 2 weeks ago. You also reply to it in I remember correctly(my apologise if I am wrong)

 

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8 hours ago, K-Hod said:

Think the OP has been harsh on Johnson and generous with Holtby. 
Barring that though, I’m pretty much in agreement. 

Harsh on Johnson? What is it...2 decent games in Bristol and Cardiff away?

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Walton- 2
Had a little run of form when we went  on a decent run just before lockdown. But he has simply cost us to many goals from such basic mistakes be it saving a simple shot or coming and catching a simple cross. The only good thing you can say about his signing is that thankfully it isn't permanent and aren't stuck with him for the next few years.

Tosin-6 
Vastly overrated in my opinion. A decent player but not as good as many seem to think. Prone to lapses in concentration and doesn't use his physique enough for my liking. 

Johnson-4
When he turns up and is on it then he is a very good player but sadly this has been all to rare. He's never really looked fit and in shape from the first game of the season.

Downing- 6
Started the season well but has faded the longer it has gone on. He's going to be 36 come next season, I personally wouldn't be offering him a new contract.

Holtby-5.5
He undoubtedly has ability but a mixture of injuries and being played in the wrong position mean that we haven't seen the best of him yet.

Gallagher-2.5
He is not a winger and never will be not matter how many time he is played there. The problem is that he doesn't look much better when upfront. On the plus side at least he has scored a few more goals than Brereton.

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Walton - 4. Had some good games but not enough and overall been dissapointting

Tosin - 7 Very good technical on the ball and form a good partnership with Lenihan. Will deffo have PL career

Downing - 7.5 Our best Summer signing. Some very good games but poor since restart

Johnson - 4 Poor overall and with a couple of good games like Bristol City away or second Half at Cardiff. But not enough

Holtby - 5 He had some good games like Sheff Wednesday away or Huddersfield at home. But not been consist enough

Gallagher - 4 . Yet a few good games like Preston, Bristol City or Stoke away games but no way need good enough from him. Plus needs to play up front and not in a wide role. 

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8 minutes ago, chaddyrovers said:

Walton - 4. Had some good games but not enough and overall been dissapointting

Tosin - 7 Very good technical on the ball and form a good partnership with Lenihan. Will deffo have PL career

Downing - 7.5 Our best Summer signing. Some very good games but poor since restart

Johnson - 4 Poor overall and with a couple of good games like Bristol City away or second Half at Cardiff. But not enough

Holtby - 5 He had some good games like Sheff Wednesday away or Huddersfield at home. But not been consist enough

Gallagher - 4 . Yet a few good games like Preston, Bristol City or Stoke away games but no way need good enough from him. Plus needs to play up front and not in a wide role. 

This is interesting as I generally see you as an optimistic poster. Excluding Holtby who I think I have been overly generous about, what's interesting here is as a TM fan, you think his best signings are worse than I do, but his worse signings are better than I have rated them. Wouldn't have expected that. What makes you think Downing and Tosin aren't as good as i do, and yet Walton and Gally better. Appreciate this is all opinions but it's an interesting outcome I wouldn't have expected. 

 

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11 hours ago, Leonard Venkhater said:

Harsh on Johnson? What is it...2 decent games in Bristol and Cardiff away?

Just the Second half Cardiff away. 
Absolute mince in every other game

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Walton - 5. He's made some fantastic saves in his time here, made a few clean sheets and generally been okay in the air which is a rarity for modern goalkeepers. That said far too many clangers in the midst of that for me. No real change on Raya from last season, who has upped his game even further this. Bad decision but not Walton's fault of course.

Tosin - 8. The only reason this isn't a 10 is because he isn't our player. I've enjoyed watching him play for Rovers and will be gutted he is to go on to bigger and better clubs. He's exactly what I want in a centre back these days, and his forward passing is something we will miss. He found Dack time and time again in the hole and continues to do so, it's just a shame the rest around him don't match his vision. 

Downing - 7. Been a joy to watch his twilight days, and I remember seeing him down the Villa when I was younger too. Always liked him and think he's an exemplary professional. I'd give him another year personally as he's one of a few we have who can deliver a deadball almost perfectly every time. 

Johnson - 4. Such a good signing on the face of it but no wonder a progessive manager like Cocu got rid. Attitude seems wrong and fitness all out of whack. On his day unplayable and I love his shithousery, but need to see more of that to give him a better rating.

Holtby - 5. Not done enough for me to replace Dack. Got a few goals and shows some brief glimpses of quality but need to see it week in, week out. Holtby should be our star man but we are all left wondering when Dack will come back to replace him.

Gallagher - 3. This boy will come good, I am sure of it, but this season hasn't been good enough at all. He's missed chances and seems to run himself into the ground every game. Maybe making less gut wrenching runs back and trust the full back, but that's hard with Bennett, and conserve some energy for the final 3rd. There's a player in there though and when he plays well he's a cut above in my opinion, but that inconsistency is why Saints sold him and why his goalscoring record is dodgy.

 

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