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  1. I saw Rich Sharpe point out a couple of interesting stats over the weekend, and after some digging found some of my own that show the "Character" of Rovers since Tony Mowbray took charge. Rovers haven't scored an injury time equaliser/winner in a league game since Fulham away in March 2017, the only other one in Mowbray's tenure is against Cardiff at Ewood in the same month We are yet to score an injury time winner in the league since Mowbray took charge (Last one being in February 2017, under Coyle, against QPR at Ewood) We haven't come from behind to win a game since April 2018 against Peterborough We have only come from behind to win a game in the league 3 times since Mowbray was appointed, Bristol Rovers home, Peterborough home & away in 17/18. In the 58 games since we came from behind to win a game, we have conceded the first goal 25 times, losing 19 of them. We haven't come from behind to win a game at this level since November 2016 which was under Coyle, against Brentford. The last time we conceded at Ewood park and won was New Years Day last season. Pretty damning stuff I would say, it generally means that if we go a goal behind, you might aswell go home as this lot aren't getting back into it. The signings of Cunningham, Downing and Johnson have no doubt helped the side to see games out when we are in front, but the lack of response when we go behind is really concerning and something that needs addressing if we are ever going to improve beyond a lower mid table side.
  2. Just wondered how many people actually think tomorrow might be the last day we have to put up with Tony's nonsense?
  3. Stuart

    Captain Material

    Mowbray seems to have fallen into the trap that Coyle did: making the decision to give the captaincy to the longest serving player, despite him not being first choice in his natural position. Ironically both Lowe and Bennett were centre midfielders who were turned into full backs just to keep the in the starting eleven. This meant having to drop other players or move others around, made us weaker and, in my opinion, meant having a poor player as an ever present. For me, the arm band should be given to the player who is the best for the job but also a mainstay through merit, not by default. Personally I think they should be a vocal leader but I’m not sure we have many of those. Who would your captain be?
  4. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column Rovers Struggle To Find A Winning Formula It’s somewhat disconcerting to have your Saturday timetable re-arranged at short notice, but sometimes pressing needs mean that sacrifices have to be made for the greater good. All in all, I’m sure Tim Farron would much rather have been at Ewood on Saturday lunchtime than ensconced in Westminster. What with the breakfast coverage of Rugby World Cup and Rovers lunchtime appointment on Sky, it seemed that Saturday’s sporting timetable had been designed by Jeff Stelling in a cunning ruse to boost Soccer Saturday ratings. These days, Rovers appearances on Sky are somewhat infrequent so it was perplexing to read the paradoxical quotes attributed to Rovers marketing head Greg Coar. He implied that a full ground makes for a more compelling TV attraction and went on to add “a better visual spectacle is more likely to make us chosen for television again”. Notwithstanding this, the policy of tucking away fans into the top tier of the Darwen End with its consequential impact upon atmosphere continues. The rationale apparently, being that there are marginal gains to be had from the opposition not being motivated by the close proximity of their fans, nor will the referee be influenced by claims from a vocal away support. It does however strike this correspondent as “a bit petty” to be honest and seems to discount the possibility that our own players might conceivably be motivated by a hostile away section. Imagine David Speedie and Alan Shearer being cowed by a noisy Darwen End full of away fans ? No, neither can I. Anyhow, at the end of a traumatic international week which demonstrated the ugly side of football support, it was nice to return to more familiar domestic matters and with a home fixture against struggling Huddersfield, a three-point return was a distinct possibility. Except, that really should read “formerly struggling Huddersfield” as they are currently the beneficiaries of that football staple, the new manager bounce. Since appointing the Cowleys, two defeats were swiftly followed by a draw and then reinvigorating back to back wins. Mowbray was hampered by the loss of Lenihan, Cunningham and Bell through injuries of varying severity, resulting in a back four that accommodated Elliott Bennett at left back. The opening goal was a direct result of that selection as Bennett was adjudged to have fouled the tricky Diakhaby resulting in a penalty. I use the term adjudged advisedly, as whilst there was indeed “contact”, if this degree of contact in real life resulted in regular human beings falling over, then the post office queues on pension day would resemble a battlefield. Rovers recovered well from the setback with Dack seemingly finding a kindred spirit in Lewis Holtby and their burgeoning partnership was a particularly encouraging bright spot. The equaliser coming from a sloppy Elphick mistake as the Terriers tried to play out from the back only for Rovers to pinch possession, Dack’s vision setting up Holtby in front of an open goal. Holtby then reciprocated by teeing up the ball much like a willing caddy, almost obliging Dack to shape a nine iron into the bottom corner. It was a lovely move and exemplified the passing style that Mowbray is evidently championing. The second half however, saw Danny Cowley exercise his tactical acumen, introducing the exciting Dutch midfielder Juninho Bacuna and asking questions of Rovers defence that like an ill-prepared Mastermind contestant, they increasingly struggled to answer. Rovers had lost the momentum, the draw probably reflecting the balance of play across the ninety minutes. Once again, Rovers fail to win at home, once more Rovers run out of creativity; less “Fortress Ewood” these days, more “Drive-Thru Ewood” – turn up, place your order, enjoy your happy meal, shakes all round. Four without a win. A chance for early redemption presented itself on Tuesday with a visit to St Andrews, a ground that when I lived in Birmingham didn’t even feature in my “Top Three Grounds in Birmingham Welcoming to Away Fans”. It’s not been a happy hunting ground of late; one league win in the last twelve visits suggested a downbeat evening might be on the cards, the performance on the pitch sadly rather confirmed it. Whatever “hap” Rovers might have had, it has certainly disappeared. Rovers seem to be toothless in attack away from home, bereft of confidence and poor old Sam Gallagher really does look like a striker without a league goal since January 2018. It was only the introduction of Danny Graham that briefly suggested the potential for some form of redemption but it wasn’t to be. The best chance in the last quarter falling to City’s Jutkiewicz, whose strike from distance hit the underside of the bar but was ruled not to have crossed the line. Almost inevitably, the murmurs of discontent amongst some Rovers fans are slowly gathering momentum and volume; much as they did in February and March, with regular expressions of dissatisfaction with Tony Mowbray’s tactics and formations across social media. Results of late have been at best disappointing, performances have shown only fleeting promise. There seem to be some fundamental problems right now that need to be fixed. The biggest and perhaps most justified criticism of Mowbray however, is possibly his record of spending big money on strikers. If indeed the signings of Brereton and Gallagher were at his behest, the jury is being presented with overwhelming evidence for the prosecution. At a time when the team boasts a loan keeper behind an injury-ravaged, leaky defence; if you spend £12m on two strikers, then they really need to score some goals. To top off the dispiriting run of recent results, next up is a visit to Deepdale; the scene of last season’s winner of the “Most Spineless Capitulation Away From Ewood” award (in amongst it has to be said, some stiff competition from Bristol City, Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and Sheffield Utd). What better place to return this season to the right side of the tracks? Preston enter this derby on the back of a defeat at Reading but a creditable midweek draw with Sky Sports in-house club, Leeds Utd. That Reading result serves to illustrate that on any given day, in this league, any result is eminently possible. If anything should give Rovers some encouragement, then perhaps this is it, because the same cannot currently be said for the on-pitch performances. Five without a win.
  5. Stuart

    Club Ambition

    I’m going to start by say that imo there’s no way we are getting promoted under Mowbray - someone convince me otherwise. Nothing about what he has done in the last 18 months makes me thing he will. So, what are our ambitions for this season? If it’s another season of stability then it’s a waste (including the money wasted on duds) and makes no sense against a backdrop of ever increasing debt. If it is to get into the play-offs then we are getting further away after each passing game.
  6. Right so I just want to quickly talk about Damien Johnson. The most qualified (in a literal sense) member of staff at the football club. Damien Johnson created an ethos during his tenure as manager of the Under 23's, and during the rest of his work with all teams throughout his time at the club. Johnson has been pivotal in introducing the new learning culture within the first team set up, the new technological advances I would say are a direct result of his impact since stepping into the first team picture. Damien has two underlings (Data Analysts) who he works with personally on a day to day basis, which has come into major effect from this season, and it is Johnson who has been instrumental in the touch screen implementation at Brockhall, analysing games and player performance and going over it with the players. The bloke has spent most of his career dedicating his time and efforts to this club in MANY capacities and I have absolutely no doubt that one day he'll manage at a top top level. He joined this club as manager of the Under 14's, and the achievements directly caused by his impact since are astounding to me. For me, if TM really does end up going any time soon, there is no better replacement, there's nobody who's got the experience at this club, the freshness to give it a good go and most importantly the respect of the fans, players and staff already at the club. Others may disagree and that's fine, but I just wanted to lay that out there. Johnson has worked wonders with the 23's. Not just the promotion from the PL2(2) but also his amazing season with that team last year getting the lads into the Champions League of youth football. Mark Hughes, Chris Hughton, Tony Pulis... meh - tried, tested? Sure. But for me, we've got a chance to try something new. Think Eddie Howe, even in some ways Gary Bowyer (hopefully not in the mediocrity way though!).
  7. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column Rangers Revelry Means Rovers Regress At a family Christmas gathering in the early 90’s, doubtless over a mince pie, I found myself deep in conversation with my maths teacher uncle, discussing various mathematical concepts, including “regression to the mean”; doesn’t everyone after all? The context being that as a Burnley fan, he was keen to point out that Rovers were, at that point (1993/4), serially over-performing and nature being nature, eventually Rovers would drift back towards their mean performance level. In his view, charitably this was mid-table second division at best but more likely, third division and so he recommended that I enjoy the ride as it wouldn’t last – not a biased opinion, merely mathematical modelling he assured me ! As the conversation unfolded, I recall using the example of QPR as a club that could be a template for Rovers in the long term. They’d had moments of fleeting glory, winning the League Cup in 1967 as a third division team and pushing the all-conquering Liverpool side of the mid-70’s all the way to the final round of matches in the Championship race, before eventually finishing as league runners-up in 1976. An attractive blue & white kit, a neat & tidy stadium generating a lively atmosphere, a history of flair players including the likes of Rodney Marsh, Stan Bowles, Dave Thomas, Gerry Francis, Trevor Sinclair and Les Ferdinand plus of course former Rovers like Mike Ferguson and Simon Barker – there are worse role models I argued. Sadly, my uncle’s grasp on statistical outliers combined with the cyclical nature of sporting achievement meant that in the long term he was proven correct, but that said, I feel sure he would give up Dyche’s recent achievements for just one Claret league title, even if it was 25 years ago. Since the 1990’s, Rangers like Rovers, have moved between divisions, they have won the second-tier title, won a Wembley play-off final and had Mark Hughes as manager, the parallels go on. Saturday morning social media provided the kiss of death though as various Tweets highlighted that Rangers hadn’t beaten Rovers at what was then called Loftus Road since 1993. I was there that day and so was Tim Flowers as he made his debut; a scrappy Les Ferdinand goal deflected via Colin Hendry, saw Rangers win 1-0. The sense of inevitability that this run would come to an end was now palpable; possibly matched only by those Match of the Day highlights that show a player receiving an innocuous, early yellow card...you just know that red card is going to follow. That or the classic Star Trek meme when a previously unknown science officer in a red shirt is beamed down with Kirk, Spock & McCoy – inevitably doomed. Statistical probability can only be defied for so long...regression to the mean remember ? The performance on Saturday was essentially supine. A low key opening from both sides saw the ball moved slowly, inaccurately, with little purpose but Rovers initially at least were very much in it; albeit without ever giving the impression that each player had learned his lines properly and was sure of his mark. Hampered by the loss of Cunningham, substitute Bell couldn't deal with a cross and Burnley’s loanee Nakhi Wells scored for Rangers. Williams failed to clear early in the second half, two-nil and in all honesty that was that. No way back for raggedy Rovers from here. Tony Mowbray has much credit in the bank in this correspondent’s view but notwithstanding this, the evidence of recent weeks suggests that Mowbray still has not settled upon a preferred formation or a team selection. The amount of tweaking to personnel and tactics seen so far this season suggests that games are still being treated as experiments in a live environment, pre-season practice games seemingly failing to identify a definitive solution. Gallagher is in, but out of position, then in and in position, then out altogether. Ben Brereton can only watch from his convalescence and nod in acknowledgement and perhaps sympathy. We are trying to wean ourselves off our Danny Graham dependency, but like hungry schoolkids in a sweet shop, it’s far too easy to have just one more sugar rush and hang the consequences; so he’s back in after being out. Rothwell is in and out like an ill-judged hokey-cokey at a silver wedding do. The signing of Holtby means Evans, Travis, Johnson and Downing know one of them has to be out for him to be in. Now if you achieve some decent results, it’s “effective squad rotation” or “healthy competition”, but if you don’t, it’s “managerial uncertainty” or even worse incompetence. Rovers’ performance on Saturday was lame, disjointed, half-hearted and one-paced; as grey and unattractive as that away kit, despite what Jack Pitt-Brooke of “The Athletic” might have Tweeted. Fragile at the back, lacking guile and creativity in midfield and largely toothless up front. The only consolation being that QPR’s defence had its own lax moments and somehow gifted Rovers two goals, lending the final scoreline a veneer of respectability the performance scarcely deserved. Rangers main instruments of torment were the midfielders Eze and Chair; for all the pressure they were subjected to, they might as well have been dictating play from actual easy chairs; slippers on, resting on a footstool. Chair was eventually substituted after 72 minutes, perhaps he didn’t have the legs for 90 minutes? He was replaced from the bench by Pugh – the sedentary puns merely cushioning the feeling of disappointment. Just two short weeks ago, I speculated as to the possibility of back to back wins becoming four in a row, making a bold statement that would make the rest of the division sit up and take notice. Well, football has a way of making us all look daft from time to time and the last fortnight has reminded us that promotion from this most challenging of divisions requires fortitude, skill and determination on a scale that right now appears to be elusive. International weeks sometimes interrupt good runs causing momentum to be lost; this one has arrived just in time to allow a serious Rovers rethink, hopefully to avoid further regression. Let us hope this time is used wisely.
  8. Old Blackburnian is on holiday this week - normal (?) service resumes next week but here is a preview of the upcoming QPR game written for the lovely people @LoftForWords Last season looked par for the course as a newly promoted team, what did you make of it? Well initially we over-delivered, turning in some pretty good performances “early doors” as Big Ron would say and that inevitably raised expectations. A period of looking at the league table “above the fold” meant that calculations of how many more wins were needed to reach the play offs reached their apotheosis after 10 minutes away at Brentford in early February when we had raced into a two-goal lead and frankly, besting the Championship at that precise point looked a mere formality. However, eighty-odd minutes later, Brentford’s five goals without reply had given both the team and the fans a chastening dose of harsh reality and forced an urgent reappraisal. Those cancellable bookings for the play-off final hotels looked a tad optimistic. Our season then collapsed like the post-referendum pound and soon we were very much “below the fold” and wondering if the sting in the tale was to be a relegation, whence we came A late-season recovery, aided and abetted by three points at Loftus Road (thanks once again...) ended with a fifteenth place finish, which I would have happily signed up to back in August 2018. All in all, “Tony ultimately came through, but at times his concentration wandered and his performance dipped. B+, could do better”. What business was done over the summer and was the squad stronger or weaker by the end? We lost keeper David Raya to the aforementioned Brentford fairly early on in the window, defender Paul Downing had been effectively released in January, flat-track bully Jack Rodwell fell down a crack in the space/time continuum, from which he is yet to emerge, much-loved, stalwart winger and part-time barber Craig Conway was freed and Ben Gladwin...yes him...also departed Ewood; his most memorable contribution being missing a sitter at home to Plymouth in the promotion season and never being seen again. Inbound moves saw Christian Walton come in on loan from Brighton to replace Raya, Stewart Downing came in to maintain the Rovers “Downing quota” at a solid one and ensure Mowbray was surrounded by a Teesside burr as often as possible. Bradley Johnson joined from Derby on a free to increase our “Bradley” quota to two, but the big money signing of the summer brought back Sam Gallagher; a previous loanee, to add options to our attack and reduce our dependency on the ageing or is that “ageless” Danny Graham. Overall, you would have to say stronger but perhaps not in the areas most needed (the defence Tony...the bloody defence...) and not by a sufficient margin to really excite the fans. How would you assess your start to the season, results are all over the map really? Rovers are absolutely determined to be consistent in their inconsistency. We must be an archetypal Cup team as on our day, we are capable of beating anyone or being beaten by anyone. We are currently mid-table, I expect us to finish mid-table, but the route we choose to arrive at that destination will be circuitous I suspect and not without its moments of triumph and disaster, which will not be treated both the same. Tony Mowbray presumably has credit in the bank from the promotion still, but how’s he doing? In my eyes, yes. He’s a decent man doing a decent job with what he has available to him. I struggle to see him ever taking us back to the Premier League in all honesty, but equally, we are a lot more organised and competitive than under all of his predecessors back to Allardyce. Solid, unspectacular, faithful, generally likeable; much like a Teesside Labrador really. Stand out players and weak links in the side? It used to be all about Bradley Dack but he’s found it to be tougher going in recent months as opponents have latched onto his threat and largely nullified it. It used to be Danny Graham but having spent £5m on Gallagher, Mowbray has to try and find a niche for his new signing and Graham has often been sacrificed. The recent addition of Lewis Holtby is an intriguing one, he could just turn out to be a master stroke. Another Lewis, namely Travis of this parish is probably the next player to leave for a pastures new for a large fee. Liverpool let him go, they may just regret that. He oozes potential. Weak links ? The defence, especially after a couple of clean sheets when they think they’ve cracked it. Is Ben Brereton being written off despite the outlay? Precious little return so far… He’s injured. When he’s not injured he’s played out of position. When he plays out of position he looks lost. Frankly, when he plays in a Rovers shirt at all he looks lost. I feel sorry for the kid, the fee isn’t his fault but the sooner we all recognise that it’s £7m that simply needs to be written off “for tax purposes”, the better we will all feel about it and as such, we can then all move on. He seems highly unlikely to ever be a regular first teamer at Rovers let alone goal scorer and Mowbray’s use of the cheque book with Brereton and Gallagher especially may well ultimately define his reign. These two signings are presently under-performing luxuries we simply cannot afford. The ghosts of Kevin Davies and Ciccio Grabbi appear to haunt Ewood to this very day. Another big money signing this summer in Sam Gallagher, who you’ve had before of course, how’s that gone? Well as per Brereton above, when Mowbray has been given the password for the club internet banking account, it doesn’t seem to end well. Gallagher did a job for us originally, when on loan, albeit without ever ripping up any trees and frankly, doesn’t seem to have progressed all that much since we last had him. We can’t afford to splash the cash very often these days and on the two recent occasions where we have, we appear to have been scammed by the Championship equivalents of those “Nigerian princes” offering untold wealth for “a small administration fee” and access to your current account. Mowbray henceforth should only be allowed to sign players costing £750k or less based on the Dack precedent! What are the ambitions for this season and have they changed since the summer? The more realistic/pragmatic/pessimistic* delete as appropriate, Rovers supporter would say consolidate, improve a few places on last season, have a cup run perhaps...all good. The more ardent Rovers supporter, of which we have a few, proclaimed the signings of Gallagher, Downing and Johnson to be the combination to unlock promotion...not really feasible IMHO. Progress is the watchword. Finishing at least say, three places higher than last season would be a solid (if unspectacular) season. Anything more than that would be a handy bonus. Finishing lower than last season would be hugely disappointing. This squad has potential but no matter how many we sign, we always seem to be two short. Was it ever thus ?
  9. For me personally it's very hard to see past another Season of mid-table stability unless major additions to the squad are made.I want to see improvement on all fronts but our stock has dropped so much under the Venkys tenure that we face an up hill battle from now on. Have the impression we are just happy to bumble along and that is the vibe I'm getting from Mowbray...'middle of the food chain' in this league I feel frustrated at times that our owners don't appear to be willing to express their plans/expectations of what they require from Mowbray and the Squad....do they actually have a plan? is it more a case of Que serra serra? how do we move forward without positive direction from the very top? We are not presently equipped as a club to make the move up all Rovers fans desire,Promotion does not appear on the Radar for some reason...we are potentially looking at decades of stagnation.
  10. Matthews, Mortenson, Douglas, McIlroy, or Finney. Suely putting aside favouritism for your player there really is only one. The greatest English player ever many would say 👍
  11. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column The Ballad of Reading Goals Just before football once again became fashionable, post-Italia 90, Channel 4 dipped its toes into the niche market that was and in fairness probably still is; “football-related drama”, with its series “The Manageress”. Starring Cherie Lunghi as “Gabriella Benson” it charted the trials and tribulations of a woman in a man’s world as “Gabriella” becomes manager of a struggling second division side, charged with turning round their fortunes. Interestingly, if you look for this gem on Amazon, the DVD, quite wrongly, is described like this; “...the 1980s football-based TV drama starring Cherie Lunghi as the embattled first female manager of struggling Blackburn Rovers...”; ...it’s as if Don Mackay never existed! There are clips of the series available on YouTube and the sharp-eyed (& perhaps more mature) reader will notice it was filmed at Reading’s old Elm Park ground. Much has changed in the footballing world since 1990, although with one notable exception in France, a female manager of a 2nd tier side is not yet one of the regular features of the modern game. Reading left Elm Park and moved into the majestic Madejski Stadium in 1998; built apparently on the site of a former refuse dump, so yes indeed, obvious punchline fans; it is used to seeing a load of old rubbish served up on a regular basis. However, any rubbish dumped on Saturday came almost exclusively from the home side. The Royals used to be known as “The Biscuitmen” as a homage to the presence of Huntley & Palmer’s in the town, well that, or based upon the evidence presented on Saturday, perhaps a tendency to crumble in their own box? Much pre-match chatter surrounded the addition of Lewis Holtby to the Rovers ranks during the week and despite the proclamations that he had kept himself fit during the summer, most of his activity this week seemed to be courtesy of North Sea ferries and the M62 if social media were to be believed. An early appearance therefore seemed unlikely, but Tony Mowbray nevertheless named him as a substitute. Pre-match injuries and illness had robbed the team of the services of Adarabioyo and Rothwell and Mowbray confirmed that the switch to a back four had been enforced. The absence of Rothwell certainly made it a little easier to name Holtby on the bench. This also possibly meant a reprieve for Adam Armstrong and he was to prove influential in the first half scoring a lovely goal when set up by Stewart Downing, the two wide men combining neatly. At the start of the second half, Armstrong also contributed to the breakaway that resulted in a Rovers second. Gallagher broke down the left, looking up and seemingly struggling to choose between Armstrong and Dack appeared to pick out neither but some shoddy Reading defending allowed Dack time to stretch, control, turn, shoot and via a deflection, score his 40th Rovers goal on the occasion of his 100th appearance. He truly is Tony Mowbray’s best signing for Rovers and pound for pound, quite possibly of his managerial career. It’s on record that early in his Rovers career, in particular when being played wide left away at Shrewsbury and refusing to track back when Rovers lost possession, I questioned the wisdom of the signing. I couldn’t be happier to be proved wrong...yet again! The elegant solution to a problem I didn’t recognise that we had..! Rovers turned in a hugely encouraging team performance here, marred only by a momentary lapse of concentration as the former England junior international John Swift brought Reading back into the game in the 57th minute, not long after hitting the post from an almost identical position. Rovers hadn’t recognised the danger and their sloppiness in allowing a repeat attempt brought quite literally, Swift retribution. Not all that long ago, given the scenario of a goal pulled back by the home side, half an hour to play, I would have been fearful of a capitulation costing at least one if not three points. One of the really pleasing aspects of this game was the use of substitutes to impact on the conduct of that last 30 minutes and the quality that was available to Mowbray from which to select. First Holtby, then Johnson, followed by Graham, in a seven-minute spell with about 15-20 minutes to go, established that if Reading were to take anything, they needed to up their game considerably. Rovers and especially Holtby, started to treat possession with the due care and attention it deserves and when five minutes of added time was indicated, Rovers responded with a training ground passing/possession exercise that kept the ball for over three minutes, killing off any momentum that the home side tried to create. Last week I said that Reading away was exactly the sort of game that an aspiring promotion-chasing team should be looking to win. If there was any disappointment at all at full-time, it’s that Rovers only scored two, when comprehensively on top for large parts of the game. If Rovers can nail this deficiency and maintain the defensive solidity of the last few weeks (West Brom away apart) then hopes and expectations can be re-calibrated accordingly. Back to back home games in store next week will provide an opportunity for further assessment. Luton are enduring the sort of reality-check that might be expected of a side that has enjoyed two promotions in two seasons but any complacency displayed by Rovers could be punished so easily. Nottingham Forest at home, on paper at least, provides a much sterner test. They have enjoyed a revolving door of managerial appointments and player recruitment and as we know all too well, that is far from a guaranteed route to success but they are among the early front-runners in the Championship. Forest’s only defeat so far was on the opening day of the season, but since then they have collected some impressive scalps along the way including Fulham and Swansea away, so Rovers will find this to be a stern test of their credentials. The Championship currently has the top thirteen sides separated by just five points. Any team in this group taking six out of six from their next two fixtures can expect a loftier perch from which to view proceedings come early October. Can Rovers make it four on the bounce ? We shall see. Old Blackburnian
  12. Rochdale_rover

    Start of the season

    After a so so start and a tough start on paper by all accounts how would people have realistically foreseen our opening 7 games and how many points did you think we would have had at this point ? Are we on track? Could do better ? Or actually better than you thought . For me it's the latter For me looking back I thought Charlton - 3 points Fulham - 0 points Boro - 1 points Hull - 1 points Cardiff -1 points West Brom - 0 points Millwall - 3 points
  13. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column Transitional Rovers Strive To Remain Part Of The Conversation As the old gag has it, “Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be...” and for various reasons this last week, my mind has wandered to times gone by, evoking many different emotions and memories, let me explain... Over a weekend that saw the final test cricket of an epic summer being unfurled, it was cricket, albeit of a somewhat lower standard, that prevented me from attending Ewood in person last weekend. I found myself “doing my bit for the (cricket) club” by standing as an umpire in a match that was part of the centenary celebrations of the bank’s sports ground in Beckenham, at which I had first played in my halcyon days shall we say. The afternoon of sport was opened by a former bank clerk and World Cup winning captain in yet another sport, 2003 hero Martin Johnson, still looking outrageously fit and healthy, whose entertaining and eloquent reflections on his career in and out of rugby set the tone nicely. “Sport is about bringing people together....” was Johnson’s main message, whether that is as teammates, opponents, spectators or even match officials. That said, his second main point appeared to be that if you worked for a bank in the 1980’s, playing international rugby was a cracking way to obtain extra holidays and don't worry too much if your till didn't balance at close of business. I could have used such a concession myself as staff and customers of Midland Bank Accrington will no doubt testify..! Whilst travelling, I had been passing time on the train by browsing through my digital photos, recalling my cricket from ten years previously and that set me off on one of those Google rabbit holes, as my mind inevitably drifted to events at Ewood ten years previously. Who were we playing? What team was selected? How did we fare? How were we feeling? Well, full marks to anyone who can answer without reference to Google, but I shall reveal all. It was of course the last full season before the infamous sale of the club to Venky’s and the ninth consecutive top-flight one being enjoyed at Ewood. Rovers had started relatively poorly under Sam Allardyce, taking one point from the first three games and scoring just one goal. Wolves were due up next and were despatched 3-1 with goals from Diouf, Roberts and Dunn. How much has changed since then? Well clearly, quite a lot; Rovers are in a different division, the attendance that day against Wolves was a healthy 24,845 in the days before the Waggott Tax and the squad that season included Champions League winning Michel Salgado (making his debut as a late substitute that day against Wolves), a midfielder who in 2018 would go on to win a World Cup for France, namely Stephen Nzonzi and a promising young English defender, discovered and nurtured by Steve Kean (!), one Phil Jones...whatever happened to him and all those add-on bonuses we were sure to earn from his transfer? Fast forward to September 2019 and it’s now Millwall that are the visitors in front of 11,873 spectators. Tony Mowbray elected to shuffle his pack, employing a new formation and giving John Buckley his first League start. Mowbray has tinkered with three centre backs before but chose to combine it here with Armstrong up front. The cost was that Graham, Gallagher and Travis all started on the bench. It surprised many Rovers fans and seemed to have a similar impact on Millwall boss Neil Harris. I’m not sure why this match was chosen for such an experiment and whilst in recent weeks I have queried the seeming lack of chemistry in central midfield between Travis & Johnson, it was quite a surprise to learn that Travis was the sacrificial lamb to accommodate Buckley, especially as it was Johnson who was hooked at half time against WBA. Buckley would be the half time change this time and Travis wouldn't feature until the death, replacing the impressive Stuart Downing. I suspect that Derek Williams is not the player that many would have identified pre-season as being the prime candidate to take over the Charlie Mulgrew mantle of “key goal-scoring defender”, but hot on the heels of his winner at Hull he opened the scoring here with what could rightfully be described as a scorcher. If I were Williams I would consider practising free kicks and penalties and affecting a Scottish accent. Last season, Sheffield United’s overlapping centre backs were the wonder of the age but the second Rovers goal could have been straight out of the Chris Wilder playbook; Lenihan crosses, Williams desperate to add to his tally slides in at the back post but narrowly fails to connect, leaving the lively Dack to slot home. It’s perhaps just as well that the goals are being shared around, as Gallagher and Armstrong are still to open their league accounts, Danny Graham is seemingly being courted by Western Sydney Wanderers and Brereton is recovering from knee surgery. Dack is currently carrying the lion’s share of the scoring burden and must be grateful for any assistance from whatever source. Four clean sheets in five, (the WBA aberration apart) is definitely welcome news whether it will prove to be three or four at the back that endures. Ten years on, Rovers find themselves still seemingly in transition. The plan for a Premier return still undergoing recalibration. Rather than being right at the heart of the promotion conversation, Rovers remain in earshot, but no matter what the transfer activity in the previous window, we seem to be perennially consigned to being a couple of players short of a genuine promotion push. What are the chances that the next two inbound transfers will be a former Real Madrid favourite and a future World Cup winner? Well at the time of writing, the next player in is set to be free agent and German international (with an English father), Lewis Holtby. This potential move for the former Spurs and Fulham man seems to confirm that a significant factor in signing for Rovers now, is having the same first name as an existing squad member. Bradley, Sam, Joe and now Lewis adds credence to the emerging hypothesis. If there's a 13 year old "Kylian" or "Lionel" in the academy I might just get giddy with the potential... Midfield is possibly well stocked in terms of numbers and by possibly, I mean definitely. One can only imagine that if this move is finalised, then the likes of Smallwood, Davenport and Rankin-Costello may well be candidates to exit in January, on loan at the very least; albeit for different reasons. Reading away next up and that falls into the category of one of those fixtures that a serious promotion candidate will look to win. They have lost their last two, at home to Charlton and away at Middlesbrough, but looked very impressive as they dismantled Cardiff City earlier in August. They do however, boast “Pele” and “Puscas” in their ranks so perhaps deserve some respect. Now if they had two Peles and two Puscases, well that would really be something.
  14. damo100


    Just wondering what your thoughts are on Rovers current attendances, what you think we'll be getting for the Charlton game and what do you think the club could do to attract more fans to attend Ewood.
  15. old darwen blue

    Club vs Country

    Sorry pal, I rarely listen to talkshite but regardless for me its success for the Rovers over anything for England.
  16. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column Five Talking Points From The Season So Far Writing a weekly column about your club brings certain challenges, not least of which, is during one of those pesky international breaks when they don't actually play. Faced with this dilemma, I have therefore decided to employ the tired and timeworn cliché of the “listicle”. #LazyJournalism indeed. Step aside Buzzfeed, there’s a new kid in town... 1. Rovers Ladies Hit The Mainstream In the early 70s, the nearest the club had at that time to a “marketing guru” was the commercial manager, one Keith Cafferty, who was credited with creating the slogan “Rally Round The Rovers” as part of a campaign to persuade more fans to come down to Ewood, fill the ground and swell the coffers (the more the things change, the more they stay the same as they say...). Car stickers, programme adverts and raffle tickets all bore the slogan. Recently, a fan-led Crowdfunding campaign to sponsor one of the Rovers Ladies team truly went viral and the net result was over 300 Rovers fans eventually contributing over £4k; which was enough to sponsor the whole team. Lindsay Lewis’s initiative has truly captured the imagination and the extent of the rallying round these particular Rovers really warmed the heart. For so many fans to feel sufficiently engaged to contribute to another arm of the club was tremendously uplifting. Rovers Ladies of course finally were granted the promotion they so richly deserved at the end of last season and this weekend their Championship game against Aston Villa at Villa Park even featured as a live game on the new FA Player application. Sadly, the result was a 2-1 defeat (*see below) but Rovers Ladies are clearly now viewed as an integral part of the club, just like the academy and the youth teams. Some sharp marketing using the opportunity of an international break weekend saw record crowds at the Etihad for the ladies Manchester derby and another, albeit free ticket incentivized, at Stamford Bridge for the match against Spurs Ladies. A watershed moment in the development of the ladies game ? 2. Goalkeepers & Goalkeeping Rovers have enjoyed a long lineage of very capable goalkeepers, in my lifetime stretching back to Blacklaw, via the likes of Jones, Bradshaw, Arnold, Gennoe, Mimms, Filan, Friedel and Robinson. However, in recent years, the goalkeeping position has proven to be one of the most troublesome ones for various managers to resolve. David Raya has moved on of course and been replaced by the on-loan Christian Walton, who clearly has potential, but on current form, appears not yet to be the finished article. Walton’s physique lends itself to commanding high crosses but as yet his understanding with his defence is still very much embryonic and his play with the ball at his feet seems at best a marginal improvement on Raya. Is he the upgrade on Raya that Mowbray wanted, that the team needed ? The jury, I suspect, is still out on this one. 3. Goals From Open Play Do they matter in modern football ? During the last World Cup much press chatter was based around England’s ability from set pieces and by way of contrast, their inability to create from open play. The same charge can be levelled at Rovers so far this season, but probably could also have been levelled at Allardyce-era Rovers. “So what?” I hear you cry. A goal is a goal however it is scored and that’s absolutely correct of course. However, from my perspective, football is very much in the entertainment business and watching a tricky winger dribble past opponents or to see intricate passing movements unlock a defence gets me out of my seat and adds to the overall enjoyment of the match. Rovers so far seem to lack a creative, cutting edge, someone who can do something wholly unpredictable but effective. The prime maverick, Bradley Dack, has so far struggled to deliver consistently, presumably not helped by the rotating cast and various permutations of central and wide men being played around him. A lot rests on the shoulders of the likes of Armstrong, Downing and perhaps even at some point, the long awaited Harry Chapman to get us all out of our seats. 4. Change Kits...or Away Kits *That* grey kit. I’ve tried to keep an open mind, but having seen it in the flesh at West Bromwich Albion...it’s awful. I’m sure the marketing team at Umbro will be devastated to hear of my verdict and resignations are being handed in right now. Surely one of the fundamental requirements of a change kit is that it clashes less with your opponents than would the first choice ? In the sunshine at the Hawthorns, when play was at the far end of the ground, it wasn’t easy to differentiate. Watching TV highlights later, it was even worse. Conveniently, from a commercial perspective at least, it also doesn’t differentiate with white kits and so naturally, a third kit is required...in another shade of blue. The club shop does a roaring trade and the bean counters are happy. Red & black halves. That is all. 5. Matt Jansen This week, the long-awaited autobiography from Matt Jansen was published and it is a terrific read. It provides insight into the life of a footballer rising through the ranks, having a major accolade snatched cruelly from his grasp at the eleventh hour, the physical and emotional fall out of a tragic accident and the road to some kind of redemption via coaching and management. If you need an excuse to trawl YouTube to remind yourself of his talent, reading this book is sufficient incentive. This project has taken something like four years from original idea through to publication, it’s well worth the wait. There are some intriguing anecdotes regarding Michael Knighton and plenty of reasons to understand why the likes of Graeme Souness and Mark Hughes were so highly regarded at the time. I still choke up at the memory of Matt doing a lap of honour at Ewood in a Bolton shirt and being resoundingly cheered and applauded on all four sides of Ewood. Hopefully Matt’s career has another chapter or two left in whatever capacity he desires. Finally, Saturday sees a return to League action at Ewood with the visit of Millwall. Since the ignominious FA Cup quarter final defeat in 2013, Rovers record against Millwall is pretty good with four wins and three draws. An extension of that record would be the perfect tonic after the Baggies setback. *More on that Rovers Ladies match courtesy of Rovers fan Matt Moon :- “From my perspective, I thought the new signings are helping. Stenson in goal was amazing, I feel a lot better about our defence with her in the side. Neither goal was her fault. We brought Whitham in at the weekend and she played right wing & was busy & making a difference until I think she got concussed just before half time. Lord-Mears played up front & looks like she will do well against most of the Championship (pacy, first game of the season, was suffering cramp towards the end). Put all of those together with Flint coming back from an ankle injury (probably out for a few more weeks as per the match commentary) then I think we'll be ok. One other point of note, despite wearing a rare Blackburn shirt in amongst Villa fans. I didn't feel any threat at any time, no-one said anything & there were families sat around me but I felt like a few sat either side of me weren't used to dealing with having an opposition fan in their midst. I celebrated our goal by standing and clapping but nothing more, which I thought was about right. If the NFL & women's football can have unsegregated fans, it makes men's football look very much like the exception. I prefer watching football without that edge although some will clearly disagree. I don't think that women's football should look to just copy the men's game, it should look to retain what makes it better in some ways than the men's game.”
  17. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column The Hawthorns is of course the highest ground in the Football League, it’s a pub quiz staple over the years; but can you name the second highest ? (Answer at the foot of the column). Notwithstanding the apparently 551 feet separating it from sea level, there was a point between midday and 2pm on Saturday when there seemed to be a distinct probability that we would all soon be under water. Monsoon like conditions for a couple of hours served to dampen the mood, flood the streets, wash away the cricket matches playing on nearby grounds and generate grey skies to match Rovers miserable new away kit. Once inside the stadium, the weather relented, the sun briefly shone and astonishingly the groundsman decided this was the precise moment to turn on the sprinklers to water the pitch. If the pitch drains that well, cricket clubs should get in touch to learn his mystery soil maintenance secrets forthwith! Rovers benefitted from some very early charity from a West Brom defence seemingly in a generous mood. Some eager pressing right from the off by Travis forcing an error which gave Dack the opportunity to open the scoring and all this from open play. Barely a minute in and a goal ahead – the question asked on social media was, “Is it possible to score TOO early ?”; Rovers fans really are the masters of dark humour, though the fears were soon proven not to be entirely without foundation. Conceding so early seemed to spark some life into an Albion team without a home win in their three league and cup games to this point and both flanks were soon being exploited in the hope of some return. Nimble, tricky wide midfielders supported by rampaging full backs in a 4-3-2-1, very much a Mowbray template, but here, it was being executed by the team in the stripes and Rovers couldn’t cope. Former Blackpool man Philips and on-loan Hammer Diangana in particular made hay. Greg Cunningham wasn’t having the easiest of days. It started badly when he tried to hold off a challenge from Philips encouraging Walton to come and collect. The only problem being that Walton clearly hadn’t got the text and he resolutely stayed put. Philips nipped in, outmuscled Cunningham and with the ball nestling in Rovers’ net, an unseemly row then erupted between left back and keeper, each seeking to apportion blame. In truth, neither was entirely innocent, but if ever a “heave it into Row Z” solution was required, this was probably it. Philips was also instrumental in the second; following some balsa strength defending from the disappointing Armstrong, a pass to Philips allowed him to produce a lovely, deft chip which came back off the post to Pereira, who with plenty of time, set up Livermore to pick his spot. It wasn’t quite the Tom Cairney-esque levels of space we saw against Fulham but Rovers do rather seem to have fallen into the habit of allowing opposition midfielders a lot of space to measure their shots. The third Albion goal was delightful, the aforementioned Diangana scoring with a delicious chip following a simply horrible mistake by Darragh Lenihan, a peaky blunder you might say. Caught in possession and out sprinted, at least Darragh had a great vantage point to watch the ball float elegantly over Walton. A miserable twenty-minute spell had left Rovers bereft of ideas and the main aspiration seemed to be to get to half time with no further damage. The next goal was scored at the other end, thankfully, still in the first half. A stoppage-time Cunningham free-kick which seemed to be fairly innocuous was met by the head of Lenihan; a keeper fumble, a couple of pinball type attempts and the erstwhile disappointing Johnson, had somehow scrambled to put Rovers back in it just before the interval. There’s no bad time to score but this was a particularly good one, as it served to deflate the home crowd and introduce an element of doubt where, once past the twenty-second minute at least, there had been very little. Mowbray rang the changes and Dack became the lone “false nine” striker, the ineffectual Gallagher and Johnson sacrificed for Rothwell and Buckley. I expressed doubts over the efficacy of the Travis/Johnson midfield partnership last week and nothing in the first half here alleviated those concerns. These substitutions seemed to suggest that packing the midfield with nimble, young tyros was to be the favoured approach. Against all odds, it seemed to do the trick, albeit Rovers best chances came from a series of crosses with defenders facing their own goal and then panicking, rather than from Dack & Graham interplay. Following one such incident Rovers thought they had an equaliser but in fairness to the officials and with the benefit of reviewing a few times on TV, it definitely falls into the category of “one you wouldn't like to be given against you”. Buckley in particular was eye-catching. Not everything he tried worked but he stuck at it and he seems to have the ability to glide effortlessly, treating the turf as if it were ice, with him on skates, nicking the ball away just before a defender can clean him out, pirouetting to leave an opponent facing entirely the wrong direction. The trusty Mowbray Plan A (now turned Plan B), Danny Graham; was thrown on with a quarter of an hour remaining but Albion’s Semi Ajayi, a player who had impressed against Rovers when playing for Rotherham last season, snuffed out the danger. The best legitimate chance came from a neat, low free kick which Downing turned against the outside of the post but that was a close as Rovers managed, there was to be no repeat of the drama of last season’s encounter. One footnote worthy of comment were the early and sustained chants berating the EFL for their role in the demise of Bury FC as a Football League member. As Mrs Doyle might have said, “the bad F word...worse than ‘feck’...” but it was heartfelt and authentic. Such solidarity was encouraging to hear as the all-pervading sense of “who’s next?” is hard to escape. Bolton seemed to have survived for now but Macclesfield, Oldham...who can say? Next week is an international break and I for one welcome a chance to return to Ashes mode for a while. A reminder, if it were needed, that in sport anything and everything is possible…even something as remarkable as a goal from open play. *It’s Port Vale’s Vale Park which stands at 525 feet above sea level – 100 lines for all of you suggesting Boundary Park!
  18. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column... On a day when the mercury rose to levels that broke records around the country, the scene was perfectly set for a keenly-fought contest. Visitors from another country venturing north, seemingly set to impose their will on the hosts and demonstrate their belief in their inherent superiority. Blue skies, glorious sun, the smell of freshly mown turf combining with the knowledge that with some rugged defiance and determination, the hosts, you hoped, could at the very least frustrate the visitors, if not chalk up an unlikely win. On this glorious Saturday, England’s middle order did for once show some grit and determination at Headingley, setting up what was to become a truly Superlative Sunday, but for now, let’s turn our attention to the events that unfolded at Ewood! Cardiff are many people’s favourites to bounce straight back up to the Premier League. They have largely kept their squad together, adding Vaulks from Rotherham Utd, who only made it to the bench but under the canny and experienced Colin Anagram, only the foolish would under-estimate them. They have proved to be obdurate opponents in recent times, Rovers’ sole victory in over thirty years coming in an FA Cup replay in 2005. City showed their incisive attacking ability in the first half, hitting the post from their best opportunity, created down Rovers’ perennially troublesome right back channel and shortly afterwards, forcing a smart, low save from Walton. Rovers too created chances, the estate agency of “Dack & Graham” (see Old Blackburnian passim) largely responsible; a number of viewings, a few exchanges but sadly no completions this time around. (That’s enough estate agency allusions- Ed). Downing looked lively throughout and the answer to the pre-season poser, so far at least, is that he is closer to Wagstaffe than Whittingham in the magic left peg stakes. We need to talk about Amari’i Bell. He looked lively early on, encouraged to go forward, he seems to be suffering a crisis of confidence. His decision-making currently lets him down on too many occasions. He has had a tough year losing his father, but playing through it, which shows his commitment and strength of character. You can’t help but wonder if a spell with a sports psychologist might just unlock the fear that currently seems to grip him? You sense that Greg Cunningham’s primacy is not currently under threat, except in games against Cardiff City of course. For once, Tony Mowbray’s second half substitutions seemed to re-energise the side. Adam Armstrong’s pace and tenacity in particular presented Cardiff with a different problem to solve. Dack & Graham had been well marshalled by Cardiff’s strong centre backs (Flint certainly exemplifying his nominative determinism) and if the Flint lock was to be picked, the sense was that subtlety or pace, rather than brute strength might prove crucial. Nyambe’s introduction allowed Bennett to move forward to a position in which he seems more suited and the side from then on, seemed more balanced and threatening. Rovers best spell of the game was probably the last ten minutes. A reaction to some Cardiff pressure that had seen them hit Rovers’ post for a second time, saw the newly discovered potent attacking threat of *checks notes* Derrick Williams, (see…it’s not just Sheffield Utd that do overlapping centre-backs) responding in kind; same post, same outcome as Cardiff’s earlier. It was to be Rovers’ best chance of the game. Darragh Lenihan channelled his inner Roy Keane but his always rising shot on the turn flew into the Blackburn End. Gritty defiance on display at Ewood but a distinct lack of a cutting edge. The script at Headingley on the other hand… One curious footnote, albeit from an entirely unscientific study conducted with my own, admittedly flawed, eyesight. During the entire match, I don’t recall Johnson ever passing to his midfield partner Travis. I shall watch out for this in future games to see if my evidence gathering is faulty or if there is some sort of a trend developing, but it seems unusual for two central midfielders to be disconnected in this way. Tuesday night brought Carabao Cup action back to the menu with a trip to Bramall Lane and an encounter with the newly promoted Blades. Rovers came off second best twice in last season’s Championship encounters but until you see the team sheets in this competition, predicting any outcome is something of a fool’s errand. As it turned out, both sides made significant changes; Rovers gave a start to Buckley and later introduced Rankin-Costello for his second appearance. An early spot kick from Armstrong was saved, no Charlie Mulgrew nor Danny Graham of course; Armstrong might just have dropped back to the bottom of the list. Deputy keeper Leutwiler looked shaky at a corner as Shearman nodded Utd in front. Whilst Walton seems to be slowly but surely building some confidence, Leutwiler does little to inspire confidence in his back four. For such a tall guy, he seems unable to capitalize on his physique. The goalkeeping position remains unresolved. Norwood made it two just before half time and that seemed to be that. However, a second half fight back saw Gallagher notch the first of his second Rovers spell and it was suddenly game on. Rankin-Costello dribbled into the area and around the keeper but couldn't finish. The match ended with a couple of feisty encounters on and off the pitch, Tony Mowbray was sent to the stands after apparently offering an etiquette lecture to a ball boy…no really, but all to no avail. The Carabao Cup can be parked for another season. Next up is The Hawthorns and a meeting with the Baggies that naturally evokes memories of last season’s quite extraordinary fixture. A match which saw the emergence of the #GingerNinja phenomenon, Smallwood going in goal following Raya’s clash with Jay Rodriguez and the sight of Charlie Mulgrew standing outside McDonalds on his phone right after the game, in full club tracksuit. The fact that none of those players will feature on Saturday shows how quickly the composition of football teams changes, but not so the fans. We’ll be there once more of course, around the country, supporting our teams…unless you are a Bury fan and cannot be sure whether you will have the chance ever again. At the time of writing, the deadline from the EFL has passed and Bury have been expelled from the League; 72 become 71 and their fans now must hope for a phoenix club to rise from the ashes of this debacle. Learning that 43 of the 51 businesses that Steve Dale has been involved in have been liquidated, yet he was allowed to take control, truly beggars belief. Hopefully the farcical events of this season will finally prompt some changes in regulations by the EFL, but I wouldn't reckon on it. A sorry state of affairs all round, which highlights some serious governance shortcomings in the clubs and within the League. There but for the Grace of God…
  19. The 92 League clubs ranked in order of profitability Accounts for the 2018-19 season show 52 of the 72 EFL clubs losing money. 2017-18 Net profit and loss 1 Tottenham £113m 2 Liverpool £106m 3 Chelsea £62m 4 Arsenal £57m 5 Burnley £37m 6 Southampton £29m 7 Newcastle £19m 8 Hull £19m 9 West Ham £17m 10 Norwich £15m 11 Barnsley £13m 12 Huddersfield £11m 13 Brighton £11m 14 Manchester City £10m 15 Exeter £2.4m 16 Leicester £1m 17 Preston £1m 18 Port Vale £1m 19 Stevenage £0.8m 20 Luton £0.6m 21 Peterborough £0.5m 22 Forest Green £0.4m 23 Accrington £0.4m 24 Fleetwood £0.4m 25 Burton £0.3m 26 Shrewsbury £0.3m 27 Gillingham £0.1m 28 Plymouth £0.1m 29 Newport £0.1m 30 Yeovil £0.1m 31 Walsall no profit/loss 32 Barnet no profit/loss 33 Grimsby -£0.04m 34 Cheltenham -£0.1m 35 Carlisle -£0.1m 36 Mansfield -£0.1m 37 Bradford -£0.3m 38 Rochdale -£0.3m 39 Crawley -£0.3m 40 Morecambe -£0.4m 41 Oldham -£0.5m 42 Rotherham -£0.5m 43 Wimbledon -£0.5m 44 Wycombe -£0.7m 45 Crewe -£0.8m 46 Cambridge -£0.8m 47 Chesterfield -£1.1m 48 Lincoln -£1.1m 49 Derby -£1.1m 50 Portsmouth -£1.4m 51 Notts County -£1.5m 52 Swindon -£1.8m 53 Sheffield Utd -£1.9m 54 Northampton -£2m 55 Oxford -£2m 56 Blackpool -£2.1m 57 Coventry -£2.5m 58 Doncaster -£2.8m 59 Bury -£2.8m 60 Swansea -£3m 61 Southend -£3.1m 62 Colchester -£3m 63 Bristol Rovers -£3m 64 Scunthorpe -£3.6m 65 Brentford -£3.9m 66 Leeds -£4.3m 67 MK Dons -£4.6m 68 Millwall -£4.6m 69 Ipswich -£5.2m 70 Bolton -£5.4m 71 Nottingham Forest -£5.6m 72 West Brom -£6m 73 Middlesbrough -£6.6m 74 Wigan -£7.7m 75 Sunderland -£10.2m 76 Charlton -£10.4m 77 Bournemouth -£11m 78 Everton -£13m 79 Blackburn -£16.8m 80 Reading -£21m 81 Sheffield Wed -£21m 82 Bristol City -£25m 83 Watford -£31m 84 Stoke -£32m 85 Aston Villa -£35m 86 Cardiff -£36m 87 Crystal Palace -£36m 88 Manchester Utd -£37m 89 Birmingham -£37m 90 QPR -£38m 91 Fulham -£45m 92 Wolves -£57m
  20. It’s an observation often made that if a team is struggling or a star striker is having a barren patch, then an upcoming fixture against Blackburn Rovers can be just the tonic to relieve the pressure. Given Middlesbrough’s recent travails; new manager struggling to find his feet, recent home league defeat, Carabao Cup exit at home to lower division opposition; all pointers indicated that the ideal opponents might just turn out to be Rovers at Ewood. Rovers too have already had their problems in a season barely out of the traps; a lack of chances created, especially from open play, defensive frailty and difficulty in despatching lower league cup opponents, Saturday was all set to be a classic “must not lose” encounter. Tony Mowbray resorted to his tried and tested formula, restoring the old firm of “Dack & Graham” – a partnership that sounds for all the world like a metropolitan estate agent; “two up, semi-detached, in need of some attention” might also describe Rovers’ early season forward line. The restoration of Graham just seems to provide a focal point for the team. Dack looks more assured, Downing has someone to aim for, opposition defenders have to be on their mettle. That Mowbray has spent so far, roughly £14m on Armstrong, Brereton & Gallagher, but the only way any of them makes the team sheet, with Graham on song, is as a “wide striker” or if you prefer “winger” is a cause of some concern (or if you are D. Graham, Esq.) perhaps the source of some personal, professional pride? One of the charges levelled at a Rovers side containing Graham is that the play becomes more direct; full backs and wingers take the easy option, the “direct line” as it were, providing Rovers with a fully comprehensive insurance policy should Plan A fail. On Saturday, the early signs were positive, chances were created, impressive loanee full-back Greg Cunningham, surprisingly had the first two on-target chances. A Dack shot was almost turned home by Graham, although it was from a cross from the right flank that led to a blindingly obvious shirt pull by Dijksteel on Graham and a penalty kick the inevitable result. The hapless Dijksteel of course played for Charlton at Ewood on the opening day and was responsible for heading Bradley Johnson’s goal bound header against his keeper for an own goal. This latest mishap means he currently has provided more assists than any of the home squad (hat tip to the Lancashire Telegraph’s Rich Sharpe for that little gem). A distinct lack of Charlie Mulgrew around the place meant that DG himself took responsibility for despatching the kick to open his account for the season. Dack at one point “tried a Beckham” from his own half, but other than both Rovers full backs receiving yellow cards, the rest of the half was largely uneventful. The second half almost saw another obligatory “old boy notching against his former club” when Stewart Downing tried his own version of “Arjen Robben style” cutting in on the left foot and curling into the far corner. His attempt flew narrowly wide on this occasion. Boro had spells of pressure, most notably when a speculative cross from the right deceived Walton who badly misjudged the flight, Browne could only deflect it onto the outside of the post and Rovers breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Tony Mowbray responded with a batch of substitutions that once again served only to distort the team shape, resulting in a formation that had more square pegs in round holes and momentum ebbed away. Gallagher wide right with Armstrong through the middle seemed obtuse at best. Buckley once again was introduced from the bench ahead of Evans, a sure sign that Mowbray has faith in the youngster. This match of course also marked the 19thanniversary of the passing of Jack Walker and the fans responded with resounding applause on the 19thminute. Jack himself would have recognised steely determination on display to deliver three points. The trip to Hull on Tuesday is one that is punctuated these days by conversations about the perverse ticketing and pricing strategy in place at the KCOM. The Allams have a unique take on how to encourage fans to attend, it’s fair to say cheap tickets and attractive concessionary offers are not their preferred choice. With the game live on TV, it’s especially hard to understand such an approach. Rovers have their own foibles but even the famous “Waggott Tax” pales by comparison. On the field Hull initially proved to be worthy opponents and Rovers struggled to build on the weekend success. An early penalty concession afforded Walton a chance to win some hearts and minds and his impressive save was to prove invaluable. On an evening where post and bar alike were subject to several strikes from both sides, Rovers gradually imposed themselves on proceedings and Downing’s left footed attempt across goal to hit the foot of the far post was probably the pick of the woodwork attempts. This performance was quite the evidence to place before the doubters as to the virtues of Downing. I was far from convinced as to the efficacy of the signing but let's agree that his attitude and technique so far justify Mowbray's faith. The winner from Derek Williams also came courtesy of Downing’s sweet left foot, though in fairness, in a post-VAR world the position and interference of Adam Armstrong would almost certainly have led to it being chalked off. At last a reason to be thankful for playing in the EFL! The weekend's furore over the new handball rule and the use of VAR to enforce it in the Premier League means that the EFL here, for once, has a real product differentiator. If I was in the senior hierarchy of the EFL I would be sorely tempted to make capital of the fact that the EFL offers football, warts and all, right or wrong...at least for now. It's fair to say that two consecutive 1-0 wins really lifts the mood; as Mowbray admitted after the game, this was an evening where the result was primary, the performance secondary. The embryonic league table now looks a little more palatable for sure with Rovers positioned in the top half. Now if we could win on Saturday with three or four goals from open play that should address a number of residual concerns. That home fixture against Cardiff City over the Bank Holiday weekend will of course feature Neil "Colin" Warnock, once coveted by certain officers of the club; seemingly less so by other key decision makers. Warnock remains pretty much the ultimate footballing Marmite, certain to polarise opinion and he will bring his side to Ewood, chastened by their recent encounter with a revitalised Reading but boosted by a midweek victory over "Hapless Huddersfield" as surely they will have to be renamed soon. Premier League Sheffield Utd also lie in wait in the Carabao Cup on 27th August, a testing encounter certainly, based on the evidence of last season's Championship and early PL fixtures. However, with almost every club in the competition deploying squad rotation, the only prediction from me is that parking* around Bramall Lane, much like facing Lewis Travis, will be tough and challenging! *A hint from a local, try the APCOA car park on Eyre Street
  21. Alejandro Tapia

    About Travis

    Everybody talks now about Cunningham and about Johnson and yes defenetly they are doing a greatand repeat great work but... I feel we ate forgoting some one thst has made a very good work indeed and that's Travis...he is improving and growing up with every single chance that he has had on last matches... I'm sure he will be one of the most important players in our roster in a couple of years... Now...talking about Cardiff it's go8ng to be very important if we want to have more and better chances if we try to keep and to steal the ball as much as we can and i have seen mote than one how Travis sacrifices and helps on the bottom of pitch as well #TheMexicanRover #COYBB
  22. So with the window now closed and a steward’s inquiry over the Mulgrew exit our Summer dealings look like this: Incoming Stewart Downing Bradley Johnson Sam Gallagher Tosin Adarabioyo (loan) Christian Walton (loan) Greg Cunningham (loan) Tom White (U23s) Outgoing Wharton (loan) Magloire (loan) Mulgrew (loan)* Paul Downing Joe Nuttall Harrison Reed (end of loan) Craig Conway Jack Rodwell David Raya Pretty much one-for-one. Better or worse?
  23. There are two artefacts that definitively slam shut; a teenager’s bedroom door after a “full and frank” parental discussion and twice a year; the transfer window. The transfer window, at least in my febrile imagination, is an ornate Victorian sash window, crushing the fingers of those club chairmen and managers alike who have failed to complete their business in good time. You cannot help but get the sense that with the evidence of the very late business transacted by Rovers, the fingers of Tony Mowbray and Steve Waggott were extremely close to being trapped painfully at 5pm last Thursday, at the very least recipients of an ad hoc manicure. It was an odd transfer window, neither awful nor especially fulfilling. It promised to deliver but ultimately was something of a damp squib. The manifest shortcomings in last season’s squad had been identified, targets to address also were seemingly identified; but the necessary deals to close the gaps failed to materialise. Additional midfielders and strikers were recruited, the promise that “defenders are coming” uttered by Mowbray at the Fans’ Forum just a few weeks ago, seemingly an empty pledge. What confused Rovers fans further, right on the cusp of the deadline, was the departure, albeit on loan, of team captain and set piece supremo Charlie Mulgrew. This is a conspiracist’s dream, an unplanned departure of a popular player to a local rival with no prior hint, for no fee. Mulgrew’s powers did rather seem to be on the wane in fairness, many a forum thread considering the relative benefits of his set pieces versus his defensive frailties concluded that we could strengthen in that position. Indeed, we could and should have strengthened; but when all the business is complete and you are left with three loanees in a defence (including the keeper) it smacks of short-term expediency. It smacks a little of desperation. It is either extremely “courageous” or “foolish” depending on how charitable towards Mowbray & Waggott you may feel. Early on Saturday afternoon, the courage/folly was exposed yet further when it emerged that Darragh Lenihan and Ryan Nyambe were unavailable due to injury and that new loanee left back, Greg Cunningham was not in the squad, despite having travelled. Away to recently relegated pre-season promotion favourites Fulham with another defensive combo including another debutant, the Manchester City loanee, Tosin Adarabioyo. What could possibly go wrong? The answer in the first half, at least initially, was “not much”. Rovers started brightly and energetically. Chances fell to Bradley Johnson and Sam Gallagher but were not converted. Fulham looked edgy following their opening day defeat. Rovers really needed to capitalise, but the clinical cutting edge was missing. Pressure, pressing, possession; all good but it’s goals that are decisive. That Fulham’s opener came from Tom Cairney will surprise few Rovers fans. That he was given time & space to receive, control, set up and shoot without a navy-blue 3rdkit wearing Rovers player coming within sniffing distance was almost criminal. It was a fabulous strike but he was thirty yards out and Walton was sadly nowhere near preventing the goal. The second half started brightly, Armstrong coming closest to registering a shot on target but the half seemed to play out to a familiar script:- ROVERS: *Run out of ideas, make substitutions, play players out of position, run out of steam, make mistakes, concede a second, bemoan your luck…rinse & repeat* FANS: "Oh..." It’s a quote attributed to many, but most often to Gary Player, that “the harder I work, the luckier I get…”, Rovers can exclaim that luck isn’t on their side at the moment, however, this is a team that in its opening two league games has scored only via an own goal, failed to register a shot on target on Saturday and has never seriously threatened a clean sheet. More hard work may be needed you suspect. There were some positives on Saturday; the partnership of Adarabioyo and Williams looked promising, Bennett improved immeasurably (though he should not really be our first choice right back) and Dack’s first half performance was back to his impudent best. Overall though, we were beaten by a team that took its chances. Where next then? Well, back to Ewood for a Carabao Cup tie with Oldham Athletic, presenting an opportunity for redemption. Just the eleven changes and a chance for fringe players to stake a claim. The fact that a roller-coaster of a game needed the old firm of Dack & Graham to fashion a comeback or two to overcome League Two opposition will cause many a wry grin you suspect. A win is a win, but somehow this performance brought yet more problems to the fore and provided little in the way of (defensive) comfort. Dack & Graham appear to be a partnership which delivers a sum greater than the parts. Splitting them up leaves Dack bereft, but £12m spent on Brereton & Gallagher means scrutiny if the old firm starts on Saturday. Mowbray needs to find a formula from somewhere to use his recruits and bring out the best of Dack. With just two league games played, it is of course ridiculously premature to draw too many conclusions. Many pointed out on social media that the last time Rovers last their opening two league fixtures, the season ended with a glorious promotion. The counter argument to that sadly, is to point out that the last time Rovers lost all three opening fixtures, relegation was the final denouement to a season of disappointment. Saturday looms large. Rovers next league opponents Middlesbrough, have also started shakily; they too found the Carabao Cup particularly challenging, losing at home on penalties. They too will have reason to crave a victory. Their exciting Friday night TV opener at Luton followed up with a home defeat to Brentford has left them with just one point. Another former Rover in the form of Rudy Gestede lies in wait, though probably from the bench based on Woodgate’s team selections so far. Let’s hope that it is Downing, Graham, Chapman, Smallwood and Mowbray that have the upper hand against their former club and that somehow, Tony Mowbray can fashion an effective back four from his squad. One final cheery note to end on; bravo to all the supporters who have contributed to sponsoring the Rovers Ladies team this season. BRFCS forum member and podcast panellist Linz Lewis, has once again mobilised her formidable social media army to raise (at time of writing) over £3k. The original target was £250, with the aim of sponsoring one player; £3k covers a starting XI, so this is quite an achievement. #OneRovers in deed. *Thanks to Michael Taylor ( @MarpleLeaf ) for the photographs...
  24. Bigdoggsteel

    New captain

    So with a vacancy after arising who would you like to see given the armband? I have only included realistic candidates (in my opinion...and Mowbrays) so apologies if I left someone out My vote is for Lenihan. Loves the club, came through the academy, plays in a position I think works well for a captain. I think he would relish it. Ya, ya he's Irish too 😁

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