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Found 45 results

  1. No lessons learned. No possession football. No plan B. No Joe Rothwell. No defence. No defenders signed. No method. No Ryan Nyambe. No positivity. No progress. No idea. You're a nice bloke, you've done a good job but this is as far you will take us. Don't ruin your legacy, do the right thing and step aside. Charlton are relegation fodder so what does that make us? Go.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. With another International week killing our domestic football and Rovers in particular I noticed the board was eerily quiet. I decided to start a thread about things you dislike in football so no falling out, it's just anything that annoys you. No accusations of being miserable please. 😁 Mine is the bloody Mexican Waves that we see from time to time usually I have always thought borne out of boredom. Although they do seem to be on the wane in football I noticed them at Old Trafford yesterday and saw adults doing it and it riled me. I'm not sure why they are called Mexican as they originated, surprise surprise in America.
  6. philipl

    Tosin

    Surprised Aderabioyo doesn't have his own thread. Quietly did what he was brought in for today but the system didn't gell. With Laporte out long term and City Central defense repeatedly vulnerable today, might he be recalled early?
  7. damo100

    Attendances

    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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.”
  10. 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!
  11. 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 👍
  12. 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…
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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?
  17. 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...
  18. 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 😁
  19. Last Season’s Failings Revisited... I think it was Sophocles, in his writings in the 5th century BC, who coined the phrase “misery loves company”. I say “think”; I pretty much “know”, partly because of my innate love of the Classics (ahem), but more honestly, because I also know how to use a decent search engine. Either way, “misery” would have been right at home at full time at Ewood Park last Saturday afternoon. Misery could not in fact, have been more at home, if it had found itself telling a group of children that their long-awaited school trip to Disneyland had just been cancelled and the teacher arranging it had just scarpered with all their spending money. In recent years, opening day and Rovers have not really been on speaking terms*. (can you remember the last opening day victory ? Answer below...). We have lost and been relegated, lost & been promoted, lost & stayed where we were; so perhaps a note of caution before becoming over-excitable and calling for Mowbray’s head as some were on Saturday? The pre-match optimism bubble was pricked before half time.We didn't even get the chance to try the “imaginatively priced” new concourse food before Rovers conceded. First reviews on these offerings were at best "mixed". A bright start from Rovers with some neat movement from Sam Gallagher, a couple of deft touches from Stewart Downing and early signs that Bradley Johnson would use his presence gainfully in the centre of Rovers midfield raised the spirits. However, all were soon distant memories once former-Sunderland Netflix star Jonny Williams or “Joniesta” as he was once christened at Crystal Palace, picked out Purrington, ghosting in, unmarked, at the far post to put Charlton in front. Nominative determination indeed as Andres himself would have been delighted with the cross and Ben was definitely purring as it curved inexorably towards him. “Defenders are coming” Tony Mowbray promised the faithful at the Fans’ Forum only a few months back, yet the line-up starting Saturday’s encounter was straight out of the 2018/19 playbook and this time, with no silver linings and the only Bradley performing to expectation being Mr Johnson rather than Mr Cooper; (Mr Dack showing only fleetingly). Converted midfielders filling three out of the four defensive positions, only Bell an authentic defender, but even he continued to look out of sorts. He is quite the enigma, seeming only content to attack at three-quarter pace and even then, only under sufferance. New on-loan keeper Walton looked unsure of the calibre of those in front of him and in fairness, the feeling looked mutual for parts of the game. A little attempted tiki taki triangle in front of the Riverside causing many a palpitation as mishit pass after mishit pass eventually saw a throw in conceded. It could so easily have been worse. An energetic start to the second half promised much, Bradley Johnson demonstrating his value in winning a decisive header, resulting in an o.g. equaliser for Rovers. But then Tony Mowbray seemed to take the steam out of the engine by removing Armstrong, who to this correspondent looked a constant threat, moving Gallagher out wide and playing Danny Graham through the middle. Downing was also replaced by Rothwell and in the blink of an eye, momentum was gone. Charlton sensed they could be more ambitious and Rovers hapless defence obliged with a series of passing errors that would embarrass even a decent school team. That the winner came from a corner with a key man once more unmarked and a keeper seemingly neither willing nor able to come and claim screamed déjà vu. The scriptwriters from last season had clearly had their contracts renewed. Walton in fairness did make a couple of sharp stops that spared blushes but overall it wasn't pretty. In a final throw of the dice worthy of a serial loser in a casino betting his taxi fare home on black, only to see it come up red; Mowbray sent on young John Buckley for Lewis Travis, presumably instructed to “try something…anything” to force a second goal. In fairness to Buckley, the odds were stacked against him and he made little impact. There were many in the team that really ought to have taken on that mantle before him. It bodes well that Mowbray trusted him with the task, but a penny for Ben Brereton’s thoughts when Buckley was given the task. If not then, in those circumstances, when? A disappointing day then turned into an ugly evening as fans vented their respective spleens on social media. The only problem being that Elliott Bennett had seemingly decided to trawl the "interweb" to see what the fans thought. What the fans thought, was that Bennett was once again being played out of position, had turned in a “sub-optimal” performance and that changes need to be made. It was often not quite as eloquent, nor polite as that, but I’m sure your imaginations can fill in the blanks. Bennett however, saw fit to call out some of his critics and a few tawdry exchanges that ensued really did nobody any good. One fan’s rather innocuous comments in particular became a focal point for Bennett’s impromptu fan club and the fan deleted his account rather than face more of the unseemly vitriol. The fact that the fan’s observations were not especially imprudent (certainly not by Twitter standards) and were possibly shared by several thousand witnesses at Ewood on Saturday just adds to the farcical nature of the whole episode. Fans love to see passion and direct engagement with their heroes can be mutually beneficial. However, I do think there is a lot to be said for players staying off social media for 24 hours after a game to let feelings calm and to encourage a more mature and considered reflection upon the events of the day. Rovers now have the opportunity to right the wrongs of last Saturday by visiting pre-season promotion favourites, Fulham and inflicting another defeat on them. Fulham also came a cropper against a newly promoted side, in the form of Barnsley and so you can be sure that Scott Parker will not want to have to explain away two consecutive defeats. Neither of course will Tony Mowbray. It should prove to be interesting. Following that, the League Cup pits what will almost certainly be a changed Rovers XI against Oldham Athletic for the “David Dunn Derby”. Wins in both would provide optimism for different reasons, defeats may just exacerbate the angst. One final note, following last week's sad news regarding Kevin Stonehouse, another Rover of that generation has also left us with the news of John Lowey's passing on Monday. Lowey made 156 appearances scoring 16 goals after being re-fashioned into a midfielder. Thoughts are with his family & friends of course. *Last win ? 14th August 2010 v Everton at Ewood, 1-0…(can’t remember a single thing about it to be honest.)
  20. Well pals... i think we are showing some positive things and in sure we will improve our performance this season. A very important aspect in order to that will be to have a very different beginning on the cup...we have expectations for that tournament as well and i think that is going to be a great chance to watch some possibly important players... There are some names like Smallwood, both goalkeepers, Rothwell even Evans and more that will have to show their skills and the confidence they have on their owna and manager as well. We need reilable options in banch as well cup matches will be vitals to see ho can do it and who doesnt have a chance. In the other hand it's a chance to win and that makes everything easier even the cinfodence to work all week long will be more and better.
  21. Alejandro Tapia

    A last transfer coming?

    Pals i have heard that Greg Cunningham will arrive to our team that is actually done... somebody knows is that true? And in case to be truth what do you think about it? In my opinion hes a very complete player with a lot of experience on this division and even on premiere...he's strong amd quick and he knows what to do with the ball almoust the times if this transfer is true i really think he could be our best transfer even more than Bradley Johnson ho has starded very well in my opinion. #TheMexicanRover #COYBB
  22. Blog post from me around Charlton and our [lack of] defence which can be found
  23. philipl

    Lancashire Telegraph

    https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/sport/football/rovers/news/17664143.what-we-can-learn-from-the-stats-around-rovers-right-back/ The discussion about the right back position is on the appropriate thread but just a shout out for Rich Sharpe and the LT. This sort of analysis article is exactly the sort of quality journalism that keeps local papers alive. I find myself clicking onto the LT for news and views about Rovers increasingly. Great stuff- long may it continue.
  24. This season, following the retirement of "Blue Eyed Boy" & after making a number of substitute appearances in recent seasons, I have stepped up from the academy squad to take over the column in the "Accrington Observer" each week*. I will post a (usually slightly longer) version on here - here's the pre-season preview edition. Hope you enjoy. The phoney war continues throughout the summer; in the absence of any action on the field, the battles instead must take place in the transfer market; clubs vying with each other to spend astronomical sums, all fuelled by Sky Sports’ hyperbole (and cash for that matter) bolstered by the needy tabloids all with columns to fill. Managers jostle to put themselves in the position to sign the players they hope will strengthen their team or at the very least, their squad. Talented youngsters are often sold to balance the books, some old favourites may be released, sometimes the old favourites decide themselves that it’s finally time to call it a day. So it is these days, even in the world of newspaper columns. This time, for once, not as a result of any activity from the fledging online phenomenon “The Athletic” which is busy hoovering up sports writers across the nation (my offer letter must be stuck in a junk mail folder...probably), but sharp-eyed readers will notice that the by-line on this column has changed as “Blue Eyed Boy” has decided to take a well-earned retirement. These are big shoes to fill and I feel sure that all the regular readers of Jim’s columns online and in print would want to join me to say a well-deserved “thank you” for all of his past insights, anecdotes and opinions. This particular promotion from the bench is unexpected; but… “at the end of the day Jeff, all I can do is take the chance when it comes, give it 110% effort and hope that I can deliver where it matters on the laptop keyboard….” Enough of the clichés, a new season, a handsome new home kit (that away kit might be a future column in its own right), some new players…not many of them defenders granted, some new opponents to confront; all possibilities, at least at this juncture remain open. First up at Ewood is newly promoted Charlton Athletic; a club that like our own, has had its issues with controversial owners but finds itself currently on an upward trajectory notwithstanding. Manager Lee Bowyer looked like leaving, then signed a new contract and at least at time of writing, will lead the Addicks back into the Championship. Owner Roland Duchâtelet has courted enough controversy during his tenure to last a lifetime. His five-year reign has been event-filled to put it mildly; fan protests have included black cabs being driven to stalk his Belgian home, plus plastic pigs and packets of crisps interrupting games when hurled from the stands by disaffected supporters. He really must love football though, owning significant stakes in four clubs across England, Germany, Hungary and Spain. Pan-European protests ahoy… Rovers will start the campaign having been one of the few clubs in the division to be a net spender during this window, although there are some valid questions about the destination of those funds; used as they have been largely, to strengthen midfield and forward departments, rather than the defence. All this despite Mowbray’s Fan Forum promises earlier this year, that “Defenders are coming”. Perhaps it’s Northern Rail’s fault then? Since last season, significant departures include David Raya and Harrison Reed. Raya’s discontent was sign posted once Mowbray called him out so publicly and then dropped him. It was not the action of a manager hoping to rehabilitate a talented, though error-prone keeper. Reed stated early on that he wanted to try and break through at Southampton, as his loan expired. He will be missed but is hardly irreplaceable. The faithful Craig Conway has been put out to grass and is currently training with the stricken Bolton Wanderers. Jack Rodwell also left Ewood but frankly, who will notice? Christian Walton in on loan from Brighton fills the David Raya shaped-hole in goal; Bradley Johnson seems to be the designated replacement for Reed; Stewart Downing assumes the role of “vintage winger to be brought on to provide crosses and/or fill in at full back” from the fondly remembered Craig Conway. Sam Gallagher is the designated “contractually we must have someone from Southampton in our squad” nominee, although he still falls firmly into the category of “promising, but as yet unfulfilled”. Mowbray will certainly be hoping for a better goal return than the one in four that Gallagher achieved in his last Rovers (loan) spell or indeed the one in five & a half he produced whilst at Birmingham, also on loan. A glimpse into what might emerge as the story of this season is the extent to which the manager feels he can truly blood some of his academy protégés. The likes of Magloire, Buckley, Butterworth and Rankin-Costello have used pre-season friendlies to stake their respective claims. The old guard really should be looking over their shoulders. Hopefully, this youthful vanguard will act as a catalyst for greater achievement from the established first-teamers. Rovers long-term viability relies upon the development of our own youngsters or like Lewis Travis, polishing up those deemed surplus to requirements by others. Just imagine if we had paid £7m for Travis & picked up Brereton on a free...how would that affect our perceptions ? Travis, I am predicting, will be our key man this season, so you know who to blame if his form ebbs away. Sorry Lewis... The Championship, as always, will be a difficult league in which to prosper; especially when confronted with relegated Premier League clubs armed with substantial parachute payments, city-based clubs with ample resources like Leeds, Bristol City plus the club with possibly the best owner in the division, Middlesbrough. Rovers on their day last season went toe to toe with some of the division’s best such as Leeds, Derby, West Brom, and Aston Villa; but those (as yet) unresolved defensive frailties mean that those capitulations at Brentford, Bristol City, Preston, Sheffield Utd and Swansea continue to loom large in the memory and structure expectations accordingly. I expect an improvement on last season’s fifteenth place finish. I hope for a top half. I dream for a play off place. The cricket, tennis and golf have been great, but welcome back football and hopefully I can welcome you dear reader, back next week and future weeks. Finally, I feel duty bound to acknowledge the sad news that emerged just as this column was being put to bed. The passing of Kevin Stonehouse at just 59 years of age was something of a shock. Kevin was and will continue to be, fondly remembered by Rovers fans of a particular vintage. He never gave less than maximum effort and his return of a goal every three games, largely from midfield or wide roles would be incredibly highly-valued today. The thoughts of all Rovers fans will be with his nearest and dearest. RIP Kevin. *assuming I'm not sacked, in which case, it's been lovely
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