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Found 173 results

  1. It’s looking like we are going to need a heck of a facelift in the close season - although Mowbray will no doubt still try to get tunes out of Gallagher and Brereton, presumably still playing both out wide. Personally I reckon there are five players in our senior squad that we should keep and the rest need replacing, either because loans end or simply because they aren’t good enough. There is a possibility that a different manager could breathe new life into a few others: Downing, Rothwell, Holtby, maybe even the two above but I just can’t see how anything is going to change without a change in the dugout.
  2. bigbrandjohn

    Worst Rovers signing ever?

    Just saw this topic on Twitter. Thought it would be lockdown fun. Apparently City fans think Santa Cruz. Funny old World.
  3. Scotland1

    Season Tickets 2020-21

    Anything on tickets ?
  4. Stuart

    Goalkeepers

    So, after losing a goalkeeper capable of challenging for automatic promotion and replacing him with a season long loan, Mowbray has a decision to make again this Summer. From the patter recently it seems that Brighton “want Walton back” - which is probably code for: we are looking to sign him for an undisclosed fee but want to make it look as though we had to work hard to get him because of how in demand he is. Personally I’d argue we need better. He has a decent stop in him on his day and when the ball is within arms reach. Sadly his day isn’t often enough and he seems to struggle to get over if the ball is played anywhere out of reach - particularly on free kicks, maybe a decent gk coach could fix this with foot work. In his defence, ironically, he is behind a pretty average defence, also with no depth, and has been for much of the season. In terms of alternatives there are precious few noises. Joe Hart and Karl Darlow seem to keep coming around but other than that no strong rumours. We also need to replace Leutwiler who didn’t push Raya and doesn’t push Walton, and seems more than happy to be a non-playing member of staff, so whatever happens it would be very surprising if we didn’t bring in at least one new man between the sticks. I wouldn’t be averse to bringing in Walton as a number two with an upgrade at number one but this seems unlikely. With this in mind, let’s take a look at keepers who come from the stable of Rovers existing player agencies - which seems to be our default - as we can see, it’s a pretty incestuous business! Unique Sports Management (Bennett, Graham, Bell) James Montgomery - Flyde - age 26 Michael Cooper - Plymouth - 20 Daniel Graham (!) - Ayr United - 20 Max Johnson - Ex St Johnson (MU stock) - 21 Karl Darrow - Newcastle - 29 Jordan Archer - Fulham - 27 Seny Dieng - QPR - 25 Matija Sarkic - Villa - 22 Christy Pym - Peterbrough - 25 Dillon Barnes - QPR - 24 Nathan Bishop - Man U - 20 Major League Sports (Lenihan) No keepers Crown Football / Simon Conning (Gallagher, Magloire) Christian Walton (!) - Brighton - 24 Chris Maxwell - Blackpool - 29 Midas Sports (Nyambe - Ex Crown 🤔) Matt Macey - Arsenal - 25 Sam Walker - Reading - 28 Adam Parkes - Watford - 20 Stellar Football (Armstrong) Many ridiculous names with upwards of £15m fees that I won’t list Nick Pope - Burnley - 28 Fraser Forster - Southampton - 32 Sergio Romero - Man U - 33 Wayne Hennessey - Palace - 33 Jed Steer - Villa - 27 Runar Alex Runarsson - Dijon - 25 Eloy Room - Columbus Crew - 31 Caoimhin Kelleher - Liverpool - 21 Wes Foderingham - Sheff U - 29 David Marshall - Wigan - 35 Frank Fielding - Millwall - 32 Kieran Westwood - Sheff W - 35 Joe Fryer - Boro - 24 Nathan Trott - West Ham - 21 Robert Sanchez - Brighton - 22 Base Soccer (Samuel, Davenport, Butterworth) Daniel Schmidt - St Truiden - 28 Lawrence Thomas - Melbourne - 28 Mark Gillespie - Newcastle - 28 Joe Lewis - Aberdeen - 32 Stefan Marinovic - Wellington - 28 Conor Hazard - Celtic - 22 Luke Southwood - Reading - 22 SEM Group (Smallwood) Shwan Jalal - Chesterfield - 36 Florent Chaigneau - Montagnarde - 36 Wasserman (Downing, plus now Brereton and Chapman - both ex-Key Sports who also managed Peter Whittingham) Zack Steffen - Man C - 25 David Button - Brighton - 31 Scott Carson - Man C - 34 George Long - Hull - 26 Nick Marsman - Feyenord - 29 Simon Moore - Sheff U - 30 Adam Bogdan - Ferencvaros - 32 Lee Nicholls - MK Dons - 27 Omni-Sports (Hart, Wharton, Carter) Neil Etheridge - Cardiff - 30 Ben Amos - Charlton - 30 Jonathan Mitchell - Derby - 25 Jordan Smith - Forest - 25 Ben Wilson - Coventry - 27 Jack Walton - Barnsley - 22 Sam Hornby - Bradford - 25 Murdock Sports Group / Jackie Evans (Evans, Travis, Rothwell, also Travis 🤔 ) Jason Steele - Brighton - 29 Side note Platinum One Group used to manage Derrick Williams, now managed by ‘relatives’ and now coincidentally out of the team. Alan Manus - Shamrock Rovers - 38 (Taken from transfermarkt data) Any standouts - or other suggestions?
  5. 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?
  6. With a 12 point start, I would expect us to fInish above Sheffield Wednesday. I would like us to have a positive goal difference all season, and to concede less than 40 goals. What do you expect?
  7. 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.
  8. Is That All There Is? Nobody could have guessed at 3pm on 3rd August 2019, that the season about to kick-off would not conclude until almost a full year later; just before 10pm, on Wednesday 22nd July. When the finale did eventually arrive, it was not a moment too soon, as the mighty blues somehow contrived to leave us with a performance that many would describe as “peak Rovers”; namely losing to a side in the relegation zone at kick-off, thanks largely to gifting the opposition a couple of own goals and a penalty. Luton Town therefore took the three points having registered just a single shot on target, truly an epic achievement. Rovers took an early lead and seemed set fair to stroll to a comfortable victory, confirming the integrity of the league as Tony Mowbray had posited in one of his pre-match press conferences. Instead, the season finished with a veritable clown car of a performance, bits falling off at regular intervals, lacking just the buckets of torn newspaper, red noses and custard pies. The comedic impact would doubtless have appealed to one of Luton Town FC’s former directors, as Luton’s escape act would surely have brought him sunshine. Less said about the game the better, so instead let’s consider the last 12 months and try to assess where Rovers are now and more pertinently, what happens next? At the end of 2018/19, Rovers finished fifteenth, recording 60 points in what was generally accepted as a season of consolidation. Three points more, four places higher this time round suggests that the consolidation process has continued. At the outset of the season, I predicted a tenth-placed finish, but in the event my natural levels of caution (I mean pessimism of course) proved optimistic. Rovers’ form has ebbed and flowed throughout and in fairness to Tony Mowbray, the squad lost Greg Cunningham early on and before Christmas, his talisman, Bradley Dack, was ruled out with a long-term cruciate ligament injury. In the circumstances, still being in the hunt for a play-off spot post-lockdown was a reasonable achievement, but the limp surrender in the games against Wigan, Barnsley and Millwall especially was deflating and dispiriting. The loss to a vibrant Leeds Utd can be forgiven. The loss to Luton Town had more in common with a Brian Rix farce - #OneForTheTeenagers there. Only Tony Mowbray with his trousers round his ankles as the vicar arrives for afternoon tea could have been more of an archetype of the form. What next for Rovers? The impact of COVID upon the nation’s economy will be felt for many years to come and football is not immune from those impacts of course. Below the Premier League, gate money, sponsorship and transfer receipts are the main contributors to turnover – TV revenue is higher than in League One of course, but is merely loose change when compared to the riches paid to Premier League clubs. For Rovers, the prospects of further behind closed doors games is a major issue. Season tickets, perhaps not altogether surprisingly, are not yet on sale. Even if they were, many supporters may well be cautious about returning to Ewood whilst health concerns remain. It’s not just about the risks whilst in the ground, transport to and from, refreshments, toilets and so on mean that individual risk assessments based on personal circumstances will inevitably impact on potential attendances. The fear of a second spike as winter returns looms as a spectre. Clubs are also battling with the demographic time-bomb of supporter bases growing older without adequate replenishment from younger fans e.g. the average age of a Man Utd supporter on the Stretford End was seventeen in 1968, forty years later it had risen to forty (source: “And The Sun Shines Now”, Adrian Tempany). In 2017, 85% of a sample of a thousand 18-24 year olds surveyed said the cost of attending football was an obstacle (source: Price Of Football). Many of Rovers older season-ticket holders may well be cautious about renewing, but many of the younger ones might not be able to afford it right now or be prepared to take the risk given economic uncertainty. If income streams are threatened, cost bases have to be trimmed to reflect the reality. Last week saw the release of Danny Graham, Dominic Samuel, Richie Smallwood amongst others and whilst talks with Stewart Downing continue, unless Downing is prepared to be flexible, it seems likely that he too will depart. Each season at this time Rovers are reminded of their place in the pecking order of their owners by the “No Budget Yet Agreed” ritual. For a sophisticated, multi-million, global operation, Venky’s do seem to run Blackburn Rovers totally reactively as an after-thought. With uncertainty about how the EFL will apply FFP rules, Venky’s seem unwilling to provide any succour or reassurance to the Ewood staff and planning for next season is moot. For a sustained promotion push next season, Rovers need first of all to find two goalkeepers, two defenders, a striker and hopefully a winger, just to stand still. If costs have to be contained, do not be surprised that any incomings are loans and/or Bosman signings but equally, don’t be surprised if unwelcome approaches for the likes of Armstrong, Travis and Lenihan prove hard to rebuff. It’s going to be the most vital summer break of Tony Mowbray’s reign, arguably, even more than the one after relegation. After what has happened to Bury and Wigan Athletic, just having a fully-functioning club in the Championship by next June would be something of an achievement; based on the post-lockdown mini-season, promotion seems a distant pipe-dream. Finally, thanks to everyone who has given this column a read during the season and especially those who kindly shared some complimentary feedback. Thanks also to those who provided less complimentary feedback - at least you took the trouble to read it.😎 I have enjoyed the challenge of trying to capture some coherent thoughts with a twist; sometimes it has flowed easily and on other occasions, it's been quite tough...which probably comes across in fairness ! Thanks to a combination of current personal challenges for my time combined with the uncertainty surrounding post-COVID football and when I can safely return to Ewood, "Old Blackburnian" will be stepping down for the foreseeable future. If someone out there fancies writing a weekly or even a monthly piece for BRFCS I would urge you to give it a go. Just let us know & you can have use BRFCS as your conduit to communicate with the masses. In the meantime, enjoy the break and above all, stay safe. COYB @ianherbert (Old Blackburnian)
  9. roversfan99

    Elliott Bennett/Captaincy

    Couldnt see a topic specifically on this, but surely the time has come now to move on Bennett. I think Mowbrays reasoning for selecting Bennett over Nyambe, that the latter has lacked confidence is a joke. That isnt going to help! Mowbray also said that "Bennett brings some character and personality to our team and takes the game-plan on to the pitch." Absolute rubbish. The game plan wasnt evident and certainly didnt work. Its such a feeble reason to select his favourite player. I have a stat which I saw on Lancs Live which sums up how much of a liability Bennett is and why he needs not only to be dropped but moved on as soon as is possible: Bennett has captained 26 games this season, we have lost 13. Lenihan has captained us 14 times, we have lost once. I dont think its because Lenihan was wearing the armband. It is because how much of a weakness Bennett becomes when he plays. Does anyone think he should stay even as a squad player anymore? He is as much of a liability as Mulgrew is. Further reason why its time for a change of manager too.
  10. Stuart

    Stewart Downing

    https://www.rovers.co.uk/news/2019/june/rovers-seal-downing-deal/ Now a Rover
  11. Bit of a long one, with some seasonal data from 2019/20 to back up some of the thought processes. Not a thread everyone will enjoy but look forward to seeing other people's ideas. Okay, so here goes. Let's operate now under the assumption, for the sake of this conversation, that we don't have a budget for 2020/21, or at least a very minimal one - what tactical system should we be using going into the new season? We've operated under a 4-2-3-1 for the best part of four seasons, but with Dack's injury, the loss of Graham and some younger players breaking through - it's clear this style and approach is now no longer the preferred long term option for Tony Mowbray. Side note, this ramble also assumes that Tony Mowbray is the long term manager of the club, so we'll continue under the notion that he's still manager come 2021. We've tried 4-3-3, false nines, 4-1-2-1-2 with no wingers, we've sometimes even looked like we're using a 2-7-1 in some games! I suggest, based off some of my research into the season, that trying to emulate Sheffield United, rather than a Leeds United, is absolutely the more sane approach. In recent weeks we've heard plenty of talk about how "to get out of this division you have to control the games and have the ball". I would like to propose that this is a load of crap. We've had 60% possession, sometimes 70% possession in games and halves of football this season against some fairly shoddy teams and still not won games. We need a much more potent way of creative chances, that doesn't revolve around this backwards idea that - 'if you have more of the ball you'll get more chances on goal'. Teams like Barnsley, Luton, Wycome, Coventry, Rotherham - all in our division next season - will sit 11 men behind the ball and scrape out draws, sometimes even wins with a goal on the break, against teams like ours. It's been evidenced over the last decade and is going to continue if nothing is changed. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Up first, let's talk Ryan Nyambe. Nyambe is a mainly beloved character by both players, staff and supporters at Blackburn Rovers Football Club - nobody can deny his extreme rise and the development he's made as a football over the last season or two. He's been very important to our back line and continues to show signs of promise. However, as the statistical data shows, Ryan is a sub par attacking threat. With very poor passing, movement in the final third, shooting and some of the worst crossing statistics in the division - the threat being posed down the flanks from our full backs is virtually non-existent. A career with 0 goals and 6 assists in over 150 games is simply put, poor. For me, Ryan is a natural born centre-back, with the pace, power and defensive abilities of a one day Premier League star - in the right set up. The loss of Tosin Adarabioyo means one of two things, you either sign a replacement externally or you replace from within. I'd suggest out of all of the candidates, Nyambe would be most beneficial to the team in that role. However, it's my opinion that a weaker defence should be a more solid one, a back five would be a much better fit with the players we have at our disposal than a back four. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - A 5-2-3 formation, more eminent of Sheffield United than any other recently promoted side, would help get the most out of the players we do already have. Do we have any wingers at the club? X Do we have a pair of top quality CB's at the club? X Unless we can spend a lot of money, the solution to those problems is for wing-backs in JRC and Downing, who can cross a ball, to operate in an up and down the line role. Against sides who pin us back they can hold and be a five, against sides who sit back we'd effectively be operating a 3-4-3. I believe that both Downing and Joe Rankin-Costello have shown a competent defensive ability, but both possess the attacking talents that a Ryan Nyambe or an Amari'i Bell simply do not. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Now to the front three. The Lewis Holtby "False Nine" trial didn't work, in-fact it failed miserably and likely cost us at least three points in the BCD season. However, Bradley Dack operating in a similar role would probably be much more effective. Almost all of Adam Armstrong's goals have come from the left, cutting inside and shooting from range, Brereton has looked competent running with the ball from a slightly deeper and wider position than he has as an isolated front man. I think this front-three, retaining its rotating - who's actually playing where - personality would cause defences a few problems during matches. Overlaps on the left with Holtby, Downing and Armstrong, on the right with Brereton, Travis and JRC - with a central midfield open with Dack and Holtby picking up those creative spaces down the middle. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Sam Gallagher's seasonal data from 2019/20 suggests he shouldn't be anywhere near the first team. One of the worst performing strikers in the division who played on a regular basis, I think not only does Ben Brereton seem to show a little more promise than him of improving, I think also that his best attributes aren't suited to the tactical style I'm proposing. I also think Joe Rothwell wouldn't get the ball time necessary to warrant his inclusion in the starting XI for this tactic. You could argue the toss between himself and Holtby, but I feel that Rothwell's ability to change a game from the bench is ultimately much more beneficial than bringing on a Holtby for 15 minutes at the end would be. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Now this is all worst case scenario, no money AT ALL to spend. The chances are we bring in a centre-half, maybe even get a left-back (Maybe Greg Cunningham). But if I had to go into a new season with the exact squad we have right now, that's how I'd go about it as manager. Anyway what do you think? With no additions what is the best tactical style for us to undertake going into a new season? Who'll come good sooner, Gallagher or Brereton? God I hope we sign some players
  12. TheRovers1994

    Season Tickets 2020-21

    I will not be renewing my season ticket while things stay the same, i can no longer commit to pissing away hundreds a season on absolute crap like this season, square pegs and round holes as people say, last night summed up mowbray, when we are losing and the players are in need of leadership and inspiration what does he do ? Sit on his arse sulking on the back row rather than rallying his troops, neil warnock would have been bouncing round last night, we are in need of a manager with fresh ideas and serious passion, mowbray is boring as hell, talks a good game but delivers crap We are losing so takes of two of our biggest threats and brings on our worst player, I cannot stomach it anymore it's too frustrating and wagging is too pally and not ruthless enough to say enough is enough. Delusional mowbrayites will make excuses all day long and it will only be the same next season if not worse, o cant even be bothered typing all the things wrong with mowbray. Change is needed or season tickets will be down, there is nothing for the fans to actually buy into unless your gullible enough to believe in mowbrays bollocks, not wasting my money anymore on mowbrays dull, uninspiring, predictable shite, another season if centre forwards out wide, no fixed system that suits the team just tinkering every week with 50 different formations. the cowley brothers would be ideal candidates, respected highly,new ideas, passionate and active on the touchline Unless you acknowledge this crap and and show some ambition you can shove your season ticket up your ass Mr waggot
  13. An early column this week - due to print deadlines it has to be submitted before the Luton game...so here goes... Reading Between The Lines There is no doubt that season 2019/20 will always be associated with an asterisk. A season that started, as so many do, with optimism and hope has unfolded in a somewhat stilted fashion; with some highs and lows along the way, causes for optimism and pessimism, celebration and commiseration. Saturday’s fixture with Reading was almost the perfect microcosm of the season contained in two handy forty-five minute episodes, with barely time for refreshments in between. Throughout this disjointed season, Rovers have managed to string together a number sequences which stoked the fires of optimism, only to follow up with self-inflicted trauma at inopportune moments. Right from the off, back to back defeats to start, succeeded by back to back victories; six games without a win in September/October, eight games without defeat in November/December; one defeat in ten during January/February, one win in six pre & post lockdown – with streaks like that, a sponsorship from Danish bacon must be a shoo-in. Saturday afternoon started with Rovers vibrantly on the attack right from the whistle – Brereton as one Twitter wag put it, “keeping up his amazing sequence of scoring in every season he plays for Rovers...” followed by Armstrong, who doubled the lead from the edge of the area to give Rovers a two-goal head start in just six minutes. Reading seemingly mastering the happy knack of pinning Rovers back into Reading’s own penalty box. What could possibly go wrong? Reading introduced a plot twist to the script by pulling one back with a peach of a free-kick and an entertaining half closed at 2-1. All the goals scored with an economy of effort from the only three shots on target. The second half saw the energetic and impressive Rothwell cut in, shoot from distance and via a deflection, restore the two-goal lead. Once more, what could possibly go wrong? Well let’s not fault Rovers for their creativity and ingenuity in playing Reading back into the game. Two goals in four minutes followed and parity had been restored in the time it takes to hard boil an egg. Young Carter was certainly being introduced to “the Rovers way”. With time running out and all the substitutes used, inspiration was to come from two of them. A rare sighting of the lesser-spotted Harry Chapman yielded a superb cross to the far post, met with vim and vigour by Sam Gallagher and Rovers’ lead was restored. Thankfully with little time even for Rovers to concede once more, the Ewood season ended with a morale-enhancing home win. No post-game lap of appreciation was forthcoming sadly for the benefit of the appreciative cardboard cut-outs. Rovers once more between 3pm and 5pm, revealing a heady mix of defensive frailties, midfield creativity and attacking potency that have in turn fuelled disappointment and excitement from August to July. The encouragement that resonated most of all was the sight of seven academy graduates on the field at full time and the oldest player in blue & white being the 26 year-old Darragh Lenihan. A glimpse into the future? Well perhaps, though there many potential pitfalls that aspiring professionals must avoid to have a successful and fulfilling career. One thing for sure, Rovers’ financial position means that their reliance on growing their own is substantial and this was an upbeat note upon which to sign off at Ewood. Whether the likes of Buckley, Carter, Magloire, Rankin-Costello, Wharton and Vale can be the backbone of a successful Championship side is as yet open to debate but how wonderful would it be for a Rovers equivalent of the “Class of 92” to bring success home? The season will close finally on Wednesday night with a visit to Kenilworth Road as Rovers take on Luton Town for the first time since 2007, when a Mark Hughes side containing debutant Chris Samba and double goal-scorer Matt Derbyshire, fired Rovers to a 4-0 victory. There is little riding on the midweek outcome for Rovers but pride, Luton though require the three points to keep alive their survival prospects. Such is the nature of modern-day football, the big matches that will determine the final placings will take place not on the pitch, but in the courts as the likes of Derby, Sheffield Wednesday and most pertinently, Wigan Athletic, are appealing the threat of points deductions by the EFL. I’m not sure that Rovers academy is yet producing the next generation of barristers, but perhaps it’s an avenue worthy of further investigation?
  14. rog of the rovers

    Player of the Season 2019/20

    Simple Question Who is the BRFCS 2019/20 Player of the Season? Limited the main candidates to those who have made 20+ starts in the league this season. Players are in Squad Number Order Please specify if you have any other suggestions. Vote away!
  15. Forget what Waggott will or won’t do, based on his performance as manager to this point, should Mowbray stay or go?
  16. Blue blood

    Transfers 2019-20 Review

    I've done a few of these now assessing the previous year''s transfers. I think I started doing this back in League 1 to help me process TM's work in the transfer market, and if nothing else, the last few years have certainly made for interesting debate as to how our transfer business (and TM) have done. We're coming up to the end of the season, and since Rovers have evidently signed off early, I thought it would be fine for me to do likewise and wouldn't hurt for this to be a couple of games early. As it is I'm not sure too much will change in the last couple of matches to make this review obsolete. As ever, I'm really interested in others thoughts on our transfer business. So here goes. It should be said that in some ways this is a rehash of last December's review, given that there were no new signings in January. The more I think about this the more inexplicable this is for so many reasons. Firstly there was the injury to Dack. Given we had lost our best player, to make no adjustments and sign no one as cover is incredible. Fortunately Armstrong took over the role of pinch hitter - who saw that coming? - but even if there was a suspicion that he could do this, there was evident need to share out the burden of Dack's influence. Given TM has at times commented on missing Dack, to not make any move to replace whatsoever, seems a tad odd. Cunningham's injury and a threadbare defence is another shocker as to why there were no buys. The defence looked thin when Cunningham was fit, without him it looked threadbare. Given his injury was even further before the transfer window than Dack's again it seems incredible we didn't replace him. We've since had Williams covering two positions, and Bennett drop to new lows at left back. Again, this all seemed pretty needless. We've been very fortunate Lenihen hasn't had a more typical season injury wise for him. Thirdly, we were meant to be chasing playoffs. I'm not saying we should have gone crazy but a little bit of extra help may have seen us mount a more successful push for playoffs.Even had it not been for the two crucial injuries that needed replacing, the idea that a bit of fresh blood could have injected a bit of energy and competition into the squad seems like something we really could have done with. Especially given the players and formations didn't always seem a natural fit. So whilst it's not a signing as such, TM's omission to sign anybody in January, given the huge need, is a huge failure of omission imo, and needs to be factored into evaluating our transfer dealings. As for the signings themselves, with the benefit of a year of playing, here are my thoughts. Walton - 2 If you had asked me pre lock down it probably would have been a 5. A poor half of the season was seeming to be offset somewhat by some solid performances, although that in part just accentuated the problem of having a loan keeper. Since then Walton has shown that his first half of the season wasn't simply an adjustment period and has (bar the West Brom game) put in some of the most abject performances of any keeper in a Rovers shirt, costing us a number of points. So two thirds of a season he has been horrific, we don't own a first choice keeper so it doesn't matter if there's potential in there (his few good performances suggest that he might become decent in a number of years) .and he cost us a lot of points. Meanwhile we swapped out a keeper with potential who's done pretty well, had a lot of potential and was ours. I genuinely don't think we could have handled this any worse. Tosin - 9 Brilliant signing. Links into the style we like to play, has looked super solid with Lenihen, and has been excellent for us. It's a shame he was only on loan. A few errors as a young defender, but few calamitous and given his overall talent, had he no errors in him he'd have been playing for City. Great signing marred only slightly by the fact he was one of three of a back line that was temporary. Hopefully (but unlikely) we can get him back next season. Johnson - 3.5 You don't buy someone of his wages to be a squad player. On his day he can be very, very good and there were some good spells from him. However, these 45 minute spells were often let down by fitness, his legs weren't up to sustaining that level of performance even when performing well. And if his good performances were strong, his poor performances were terrible, bordering on cardboard cut out. So 50:50 whether we get a good or bad game, and even the good won't last for more than 60 minutes. There have been spells when he has been out of the team (for a big chunk of the first half of the season I think) and his age means that his fitness problems aren't going to get any better. Also given he's behind Evans in the pecking order, and we haven't got better than Evans in 6 transfer windows, you really feel he's failed to do what he has been brought in to do. I guess he's better than Smallwood, but meh, that's a low bar indeed. Given he was envisaged as a first team regular and clearly isn't capable of that either on a performance or consistency basis, then he can only really be classed as a poor signing to me. Cunningham - N/A Unfair to rate, but looked promising in the few games he played. However, as Armstrong and Walton have shown in different respects (one good, one bad) this season, using a handful of games as a snap shot isn't really enough to judge a player on. He could have been excellent, but equally could have tailed off. Unfair to judge or praise TM off the back of so few performances from this guy. Downing - 9 Great free transfer, adding versatility, width and creativity. He also, sad incitement of our defence as it is, is the best left back we have with Cunningham injured too. All in all an excellent signing, who has performed consistently well in a variety of roles. Ina small squad with a mediocre budget this quality in versatility cannot be underplayed. Personally would have liked to see him more wide left in a 4-2-3-1 supplying crosses to our strikers, but wherever he has played (bar the false 9) he has looked solid and consistent. The only negative is his age, but a very astute free transfer who I think could have been the final piece of the jigsaw had other transfers worked out. Very clever move. Holtby - 8 Really liked the look of Holtby and thought he was a clever signing. Bags of talent and looks rather good whenever I have seen him plau. I've limited him to an 8 (maybe 7.5) though as in terms of actual end product, there doesn't seem to have been as much as I had hoped/expected for the level of his talent. Happy to be corrected on this, but for an excellent talent,it doesn't seem to end in much. That said I think some of his link up play with Armstrong and Dack at times has been fantastic, and unlike some of other players there's plenty of time for him to develop in this. Gally - 2 At least there's been a few goals. But like Bereton he cost a ton of money, leaving us short elsewhere. The money could have been invested in a much needed strengthening of defence or a keeper. He doesn't fit the wide right role that he is often shoved into. And whilst not his fault he's being played out of position, it makes his transfer all the more baffling. He doesn't look like having a strikers instincts either, and I don't like his attitude. Apart from that, he's been a great buy. So on paper 6 signings, 3 excellent, 3 very poor. with an average score (rounding up) of 5.6.That seems decent on the face of it. But when the omission of not buying anyone when blatantly needed in January is factored in, the fact the majority of the budget was blown on a failure, and the longevity of many of the signings, good and bad, was 1 season - the likelihood is that 4 of this year's signings need replacing - you really think that this had been a bad year in the transfer market. Given that's included the successes of Tosin and Downing, it's pretty shocking when looking at the overall picture to see how badly this year's recruitment has been handled. It doesn't give me much confidence for the future.
  17. Rovers Season Peters Out Into Consolidation Having entertained the division’s best side last week and emerged very much as second-best; the midweek win at Cardiff provided a welcome fillip and with it, a source of optimism for the visit of the division’s second-best team, West Bromwich Albion. Hopes of the play-offs now a vague arithmetical possibility, as opposed to sporting probability, Tony Mowbray named an unchanged team from the Cardiff game and hoped for an unchanged result. On the side-lines, Tony Mowbray sported the polo shirt and suit combination oft-favoured by golf club captains on prize-giving day whilst Slaven Bilic carried himself with the demeanour of a visiting law professor whose energetic, exuberant lectures are renowned throughout the faculty. Intriguingly, Bilic actually was a lawyer and is apparently fluent in four languages. This gives him ample opportunity, either to apologise to Laurent Blanc in his mother tongue for scandalously cheating him out of an appearance in the World Cup final of 1998 or at least advocate enthusiastically for a commuted sentence. Sporting a kit resonating with FC Nantes overtones, it was Albion that looked like sophisticated European campaigners. The Brazilian Pereira and former Burnley favourite Austin proving to be quite the handful, combining on more than one occasion to threaten and then with the help of Krovinovic, finally to deliver the opening goal their endeavours deserved. Bilic meanwhile on the touchline, no doubt studying the fine print of Pereira’s loan deal contract, looking for a water-tight “option to buy” clause. Rovers struggled to make a lasting impression the opening forty-five, the best chance falling to the normally oh-so-reliable Danny Graham, but not on this occasion. A tame, close-range header finding the keeper Johnstone, in the middle of his goal, rather than the vacant space either side. The second-half started in a similar vein to the first, Pereira probing, then forcing a low save from Walton, the rebound falling to Krovinovic, who somehow hit the post rather than the gaping, largely undefended goal as Walton lay prostrate and helpless. It was to prove a costly miss as Albion failed to capitalise. Bilic at this point seemed to be enthusiastically demonstrating the various ways he would like to litigate against his players for non-performance clauses. A brave quadruple substitution from Tony Mowbray invited scorn as the act of a desperate man... “Boss, we have to do something...” “Very well...THIS is something...let’s do it...” But in his defence, it worked exquisitely. Gallagher showed energy, strength and awareness in equal measure to deliver a neat pass inside for Rothwell to finish with the minimum of fuss; all square, all to play for. Albion’s O’Shea forced another low, diving save out of Walton who kept out the swerving effort with what appeared to be his nose. No, nez, never as Francophone Rovers fans might say...possibly. There was still time for another of the gang of four substitutes, Holtby; to find Gallagher with a delightful through ball. A first time pass inside fell to the feet of the fifth replacement, Davenport, but he could only fire his shot straight at Johnstone. Danny Graham could empathise. Still time remained for a sequence that would normally be seen only in a testimonial, or as a choreographed move at a Harlem Globetrotters match. Rothwell, Holtby, Gallagher all having a chance to get a shot away instead repeatedly and comically dribbled, passed and dozy-doed their way across the Albion area like an energetic country-dancing outfit. Finally, Holtby tried unsuccessfully to backheel it in from the six-yard box. A point just enough to keep a theoretical dream alive, but the reality dawned that nothing less than three handsome wins from hereon in would sustain the improbable play-off place. A visit to the New Den has been a relatively happy hunting ground for Rovers over recent seasons but in the absence of fans, it seemed that Rovers were struggling to find a catalyst to spark a performance. A bright opening soon petered out and Rovers’ consistent use of non-full backs in the full back role was to cost them, as a cross via several deflections eventually found its way to the on-loan Mason Bennett, who slotted home to give Millwall a lead that they had threatened for some time. Rovers huffed and puffed and posted some deeply impressive possession statistics but the one stat that matters most resolutely stayed at “nil”. Tony Mowbray threw on his full complement of substitutes with the result that the team at one point seem to consist entirely of creative midfielders, each aiming to create something for a central striker that didn't exist. It was the same, lame game that had been on show at Barnsley, albeit with a tad more endeavour, but as for cutting-edge there was none. Just two games left now and perhaps a chance to experiment with some of the much-vaunted youngsters now nothing is at stake. A season of consolidation is not necessarily a bad thing, but with the futures of so many players still uncertain and post-COVID finance challenges, the next six weeks could be the biggest challenge that Tony Mowbray has faced at Ewood, handling relegation to League One included.
  18. TheRovers1994

    The Riverside Stand Renovation Thread

    This is a topic that's interest me for some time so I'm curious to see everyone's opinions. The obvious thing is the riverside needs a makeover atleast, when people say ewood is a shithole the only reason they say that is because of the riverside, if you walk round the sides and back of it (Blackburn end side) there is all sorts of crap dumped there and it's a complete mockery of a good standard and what was a state of the art stadium until the super stadiums started going up, the tv gantrys hanging off the roof make it am even bigger eye sore So what could be done? While financies ain't great these days not helped by the pandemic of course its unrealistic to expect a new stand completely even though on two occasions I spoke to waggot about the subject and how the stadium needs maintence as it's starting to look dirty and tacky in parts,he openly told me plans have been out in place for a new riverside stand which would include facility's that can make money outside of matchdays and also downgrade the capacity a bit, otherwise an idea would be to give the stand a makeover, new roof, removal of pillars and maybe an inside concourse by knocking through which means removing seats. Jack walkers ambition for the stadium meant we a small north west town club was never gonna fill our stadium, even 31k has always been too big for us, a capacity of 25k like the dw would have been about right so thank god his plan to make the place 40k didnt happen. What would you like to see happen with the stadium?
  19. Live And (Occasionally) Dangerous In the midst of a run of form such as that exhibited by Rovers since the Bristol City false dawn, one wonders as to whether the presence of noisy, vocal fans in the ground would have elicited a more bloodthirsty response of late from the team, than that which was observed on screens of varying shapes and sizes on Saturday afternoon. Imagine Glasto without the crowd, performed just for TV audiences? Would bands experiment with line-up changes, play different instruments, perhaps try out new material in a safe environment? The 2020 “Rovers Unplugged” tour had started brightly against Bristol City, but they have since relied heavily on their “Greatest Hits” catalogue; a well-rehearsed, oft-performed series of tame acoustic numbers lacking any real passion and belief. Instead of exploring and embracing the nuances and possibilities of the no-crowd constraint, Rovers have repeatedly failed to adapt their clunky, pedestrian rock and roll to match the mood. Saturday’s gig opened with a newly penned song, “Concede Early Goal”, with Lewis Travis on lead and unusually he struggled to deliver his routine, swaggering, accompanying vocal, finding himself unable to match the Klich track beat for beat. Sam Gallagher rolled out an old crowd favourite “Steered A Good Chance Wide”, naturally enough from a position of wide stage right and then he handed over lead vocals to Lewis Holtby who belted out “Rebound Off The Post”, a recently penned new song, but unlikely to be as popular as the perennially crowd-pleasing “Slots It Home”. The first half ended with the soulful ballad “Nothing I Can Do about That”, a paean to direct free kick taking as seen through the eyes of a helpless goalkeeper. After the interval, in a neat but unorthodox twist, the second half opened with the same song that closed the first; a reprise of “Nothing I Can Do About That”, but this time sung with gusto by the support act from West Yorkshire. But just as the show seemed to be gaining some momentum, the mood was curiously slowed down with a version of an old country & western favourite “My Keeper Just Let In A Soft One”, once more the Klich track caused some problems and Rovers seemed out of sync with each other. Walton’s subsequent solo, the Bruce Grobbelaar-penned classic “Clumsily Bringing You Down” ended unexpectedly with Walton remaining in the spotlight instead of leaving the stage at the close of the number as has been the norm. The UK tour continued to South Wales on Tuesday and once more Rovers proceeded to confound the odds and their critics. A line-up bereft of Dack, Gallagher, Brereton and Holtby would instead look to Graham, Samuel and Armstrong for goals and each of them delivered on cue and as a result left the manager with several awkward/interesting questions to ponder, depending upon your perspective. Nobody yet knows what budget Rovers will be granted by Venky’s, Tony Mowbray confirmed as much in a pre-match interview on Radio Lancashire, saying no talks had yet taken place, nor even, any plans for talks made. Mowbray therefore has time to ponder on the wisdom of offering new deals for several players; Downing & Graham amongst them. Each of them demonstrated the value that they bring to the team, Graham adds a focal point to the attack and Downing has a passing range that is beyond the vast majority of his colleagues. Rumours abound that each of them will depart Ewood shortly, if that proves to be the case, they are big (and potentially expensive) boots to fill. On Tuesday night, the surprise win served only to frustrate the Rovers faithful with what might have been. The insipid performances of the last couple of weeks can be forgotten after a performance like this, but forgiving is a little harder. Opportunities to sneak into the play-offs cannot be spurned so readily or tamely. You don't win the raffle if you haven’t bought a ticket and whilst Rovers are clearly an outside bet; as they have shown, against the likes of Brentford and Cardiff, they can produce a performance from time to time. What made the difference on Tuesday night? A combination of factors seemed to be at play. Graham as a focal point in attack, energy and strength in abundance from Travis, a couple of wily old heads alongside him in Johnson and Downing and mobility and energy from Armstrong and Samuel in front. There were still some defensive frailties, Walton’s positioning for the first and Adarabioyo’s for the second Cardiff goal were each questionable. One other element very much on display came from Armstrong, who seems determined to make the point that no “Goal of the Season” competition should be voted upon, when there are still five games remaining; “Goal of 84% of the Season” doesn't really make any sense. Rovers it seems now have their very own Che Adamarmstrong! In all probability, it was too little too late for a play-off push, but it ended a wretched run of form and results, setting up nicely, Saturday’s encounter with West Bromwich Albion. Will Rovers play an acoustic set or are we due some more “heavy-metal football” as Herr Klopp would have it? Tune in to find out pop pickers.
  20. ‘Tic & Tykes Take Turns To Top Tony The weekend just gone should have seen Glastonbury in full flow and in the absence of the real thing, the BBC rolled out some footage of classic performances from years gone by to fill the void in their schedules. I wish I’d spent at least two 90-minute sessions this week watching some old VHS tapes of vintage Rovers instead of hugging a laptop and cursing sporadically at a couple of modern day instalments of the soap opera that is Blackburn Rovers F.C. If there’s one thing you can count upon in this stilted, strange, subdued season, Rovers inability to capitalise on a hard-earned and promising league position is almost certainly it. After an insipid start to the campaign, Rovers finally seemed to coalesce into a team that might threaten the play-offs on the back of a defeat to Leeds back in November. They followed up this narrow defeat with a run of five wins and a draw to set up a couple of home Christmas fixtures that seemed primed to launch a promotion challenge of substance. Almost inevitably, the two limp home draws that followed were surpassed by two lame away defeats to celebrate the dawn of 2020. Before you had chance even to start a New Year’s resolution, prospects of glory slipped away faster than a midnight bottle of bubbly. Rovers then tantalised their fans once more, with a run of one defeat in ten to re-kindle hope, before a calamitous performance at Derby seemed to signal finality to aspirations. The three-month COVID interlude however, allowed injured players to recuperate, gave the manager opportunities to work with his squad and a chance to prepare for a mini-season of nine games that might just lead to two or three more. The Bristol City win encouraged optimism and once more, on the cusp of possibility, with a chance to make a bold statement of intent, Rovers chose to retreat into their shell and their warm, safe place of mediocrity. It’s hard to pin down what must have taken place in training last week that caused professional footballers to turn in a couple of abject performances on Saturday and Tuesday. One thing is for certain; the team cannot blame a hostile atmosphere, a referee influenced by noisy home supporters, or a long, uncomfortable journey for their travails. This was self-imposed torpor. Wigan were nothing special but they have secured some very impressive results this season based on some basic tenets of discipline, organisation and work rate. The pantomime villain that is Paul Cook has certainly found a way to frustrate Rovers in recent seasons and Rovers run of winless visits to Wigan stretches now to thirteen years. Such is the joy of football statistics, that defeat at Wigan made it just one win in six for Rovers. This is not the form of a side gearing themselves up for a play-off push. Compare and contrast with the resurgent Derby County, aided of course by the impact of Wayne Rooney, who have chalked up five straight wins to overtake Rovers. They might just be the team that sneaks into the play-offs under the radar. A chance for redemption on Tuesday tea-time, a trip to South Yorkshire and a meeting with bottom of the table Barnsley was spurned, in the words of Rowan Atkinson “like a rabid dog...” The litany of woes was familiar. A line-up missing vital components for various reasons, players out of position, lack of energy in the opening quarter of an hour, poor finishing, ill-discipline generating another poor result against a team apparently deep in the relegation mire. The hapless Ben Brereton summing up the evening in a brief cameo performance, capped off with what initially looked a harsh red but, with the benefit of replays, it justified the referee’s interpretation of violent conduct. Tony Mowbray’s somewhat formulaic response to going a goal down contrasted deeply unfavourably with the tactical switches made by each of his opposite numbers, first on Saturday and again on Tuesday. Rovers suddenly look wooden, lumpen, ponderous and deeply predictable. The inexorable conclusion to draw from the re-start is that Bristol City really aren’t any good and that victory clearly flattered Rovers. An optimistic mathematician might try make the case that Rovers still have a chance of reaching the play-offs; but an optician would urge an eye-test in order to ensure that the evidence can be properly considered. Perhaps we should all take a drive to Barnard Castle ? Rovers have a run of very tasty fixtures coming up now, Leeds, Cardiff, WBA and Millwall the next four. Essentially, six straight wins would deliver a points total good enough for the play-offs only once in the last three seasons. Rovers have managed four wins in a row on one previous occasion earlier this season, initiated intriguingly by a win over Barnsley. To expect six in a row following this defeat by Barnsley is plainly fanciful. Just pride and contracts to play for now. Marcelo Bielsa will doubtless be quaking in his boots.
  21. Two full years back in the Championship got me thinking about our squad and the realistic shape it is it. Hypothetical - we sold every player at the end of this season, which league should they be playing in next season (including Walton and Adarabioyo) - based solely on next years ability (not potential). Is our squad mainly Championship, Premier League or League 1 quality? Here is my take... 27 in the squad - outlook for 2020/21 Premier League = 3 Lenihan, Travis, Adarabioyo* Top Championship = 4 Dack, Armstrong, Nyambe, Holtby Mid Championship = 2 Downing, Evans Low Championship = 3 Gallagher, Rothwell, Walton* Low Championship / League 1 = 6 Brereton, Rankin-Costello, Graham, Johnson, Bell, Williams League 1 = 9 Leutwiler, Samuel, Smallwood, Davenport, Bennett, Butterworth, Buckley, Chapman, Mulgrew Results: I would say that 2/3 (18 of 27) of our current squad is low Championship (at best), but mainly bang average L1 players. Of the other 9, one is a loan who will be gone, one is 36 years old, and one is injured - plus who is to say if Mowbs will resist selling off star academy products like a Nyambe or Travis (like he did Raya). Lots of our poor standard players are out of contract - which is a bonus... but do we trust the manager to replace with better? Now not every player in your squad will be high quality, I get that. But we really are lacking in depth of top Championship quality. I fear for our recruitment in such a quick/unique "summer" window will lead to a nose dive down the table next year. Do I give Mowbray praise for getting the most out of such a bang average squad this season? Or criticise him for it for it being so poor in depth. Thoughts?
  22. iFollow Fiasco Leads to Blackout Rovers Way back in the early 90’s, my then girlfriend (the current Mrs Old Blackburnian as it goes) would occasionally arrange to have her hair done in Rochdale on a Saturday morning. Nothing too odd with that I can hear you say, but we lived in the West Midlands at the time and each fortnight, I commuted northbound on a Saturday morning to watch the unfolding revolution taking place at Ewood. The future Mrs OB however would at that point, trust only her former hairdresser from her Mancunian days and so for a few months, until a suitable West Midlands alternative was eventually sourced, this was the arrangement. I would drive us up to Rochdale, hair would be sorted, then off to Ewood. The future Mrs OB would then drop me off and spend the afternoon single-handedly boosting the local retail economy for a couple of hours. Except one Saturday, the appointment had to be delayed as we were running late due to M6 traffic issues. It seemed to take forever to reach Rochdale. With every snip, spray and “going anywhere nice for your holidays?”, the tension rose and words were exchanged as I kept pointing to my watch and visibly winced with each passing minute. We left Norden at about 2:40pm. It was a tense journey over Owd Betts to Blackburn let us say and certainly was conducted in the days before Gatso cameras became de rigueur. I leapt out, Starsky & Hutch style (ask your parents/grandparents), somewhere on Bolton Road at about 3:10pm, eventually making it to my seat at roughly fifteen minutes after kick-off, having apologised to everyone on the row for the inconvenience, as I inched my way into the warm bosom of the Walkersteel. Until Saturday afternoon just, that was the only previous occasion upon which I had missed the opening fifteen minutes of a Rovers game I planned to watch and that even includes once driving from Loughborough to St Andrew’s (Birmingham, not the home of golf) in a venerable, old Mini 1000 with a dodgy radiator that much like a thirsty child, needed topping up every thirty miles. It later transpired that the “iFollow Fiasco” experienced last Saturday was fairly widespread and the EFL’s technology was seemingly overwhelmed with fans trying to access the system in a surge, as the time ticked ever closer to 3pm. In their defence, who could possibly have predicted that? Many thousands across the country were met with a black screen or a bouncing football alongside a “please wait whilst we try to connect you” message and levels of frustration last experienced whilst listening to Robbie Savage on FiveLive. My own connection fired up in time to show me the opening goal from Bristol City and at that point, it was fair to say that I was questioning my Saturday afternoon leisure choices. Christian Walton made a bit of a hash of a header aimed pretty close to him and in trying to push the ball around the post, he succeeded only in flapping it into the side netting. I am so old that I can remember goalkeepers actually catching attempts at goal, in the case of Pat Jennings, often with a single hand. The use of lightweight balls that move in the air has resulted in a safety-first approach to goalkeeping coaching. A keeper that actually catches anything these days is a rarity. Although in a COVID-laced environment, perhaps having the ability NOT to catch aerial threats is a desirable capability. Not too much time to launch into “full pessimism” mode though before the returning Corry Evans curled a cross into the area for Gallagher to attack. It evaded everyone, attacker, defender and goalkeeper alike and Rovers were level. After that awful injury suffered against Preston, seeing the joy on Evans’ face was worth the wait. Rovers certainly seemed to get the bit between their teeth and early in the second half, the hirsute Ben Brereton latched onto a short pass back, nipping in to pinch the ball before the keeper could collect, an open-goal at his mercy, you could sense the relief...just side-foot it in and...if ever there was an advert for “sensible boots, with sensible studs” then this was it. Brereton cruelly robbed of the salvation a goal would bring. It looked like one “of those afternoons” as Rankin-Costello was robbed of a goal when the referee awarded a free kick to the increasingly hapless Bentley as a result of being fouled by his own defender. Adarabioyo soon curled in a lovely shot from the edge of the area in a “Chris Samba at Spurs” tribute and then Armstrong, on as a substitute, finished delightfully to wrap up the points. Whether this was a case of Rovers being particularly good or Bristol City being especially inept was hard to judge. Results on the day generally went Rovers way and so for a little while longer, the play-off dream remains alive. Wigan up next and with it, renewal of a strange rivalry that has taken on a life of its own since our respective promotions. Wigan enjoyed a tidy win at Huddersfield at the weekend and doubtless will be high in confidence themselves. This is yet another of those “stand up and be counted” moments for Rovers who haven’t beaten Wigan away in ten attempts, since 2007, long overdue.
  23. I thought this might make an interesting discussion, not sure if it should be merged with any current thread though. Obviously the Premier League fixtures between now and the last day of the season are only available on TV and as a result they have been staggered so that there are never 2 games on at the same time. Gary Neville pointed out that it is like that in Spain anyway and asked whether it would be worth adopting a similar schedule full time once the pandemic is over. He did suggest to have a 3 o clock black out still to protect the lower league clubs (in which he has a vested interest in one) and they even talked about the fanciful idea of fans turning up early and staying around late in club bars to watch the live football. The idea of constant football might seem brilliant but I personally would be staunchly against the idea personally. The idea of constant football isnt as good as it seems. I also think it would destroy an element of tradition regarding our culture in this country surrounding the 3 o clock games, the pub prior, the scores all coming in, Match of the Day afterwards etc and it would unavoidably have an impact moving down the leagues financially on attendances. It would also devalue the importance and interest in the football if it was literally on all the time, even more than before. 4 or 5 games a week moved for TV is possibly already a little too far but to be fair I havent complained to date but you still have at least some of the Premier League games on at 3 o clock. The prospect of promotion would become slightly less enviable if I knew that literally every game was on at different times.
  24. It’s Back, Back, Back...But Are WE Ready ? Where were we then before we were so rudely interrupted? Football is “back” and on Saturday afternoon, Rovers will take on Bristol City...but is it truly back? Should it be back at all, even in this stilted format? Are WE even ready for it? A lot has happened in the intervening three months and very little of it good. We have seen some Premier League clubs suddenly develop deep-seated values and integrity predicated solely it would appear on league position. The fine upstanding board at West Ham United for instance, was very keen to declare the season null & void way back in March, as the pandemic was clearly the number one priority confronting society and football merely a sideshow. This admirable stance in no way influenced by their perilous position in the league table I feel sure. The government, which has demonstrated levels of competence and assurance last seen in such abundance, when a certain Mr S Singh was purveying his peculiar brand of wisdom in these parts a few years ago, saw fit early on in the public health crisis to focus upon *checks notes* Premier League footballers. Apparently, according to the MP for Newmarket, “the first thing that Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution, take a pay cut and play their part...” The extraordinary efforts of the new leader of the opposition, the admirable Marcus Rashford; stepping up to the plate to feed hungry kids and Jordan Henderson initiating the “Players Together” initiative have thrown into dark shade the feeble leadership of the health minister and his colleagues. Mr Hancock let us not forget, once a trainee jockey and recipient of substantial campaign donations from the racing industry seemed for some reason to prefer to concentrate on announcing the return of...that’s right, horse racing – this for instance in a Tweet on 30th May. “Thanks to the nation’s resolve, horseracing is back from Monday Wonderful news for our wonderful sport.” The country has suffered tens of thousands of excess deaths, each one causing misery and distress, but it would appear that the return of sport symbolises the genesis of some kind of vague normality and allows unfinished business to complete, thereby protecting the sporting integrity of the competitions. As a happy coincidence, it also means that the TV contract revenues are protected and this is paramount for the salvation of many top-flight clubs. For those clubs lower down the food chain, gate revenues make up a much higher percentage of income and so behind closed doors football, broadcast far and wide on TV & the internet, is far from the panacea for their business models. It is merely a sticking plaster on the gaping wound of impending financial oblivion. As for the protection of the hallowed sporting integrity, it is an inarguable fact that the conditions prevailing in the final series of games; behind closed doors, bereft of human spectators, cardboard cut outs, piped crowd noises, five substitutes allowed, shoe-horned into a frantic month-long footballing binge; are completely different to the experience of the previous thirty-odd games. It’s akin to finishing the last couple of miles of the London marathon...three months later...on roller skates, via Zoom. But here we are, a summer with no Wimbledon, no Open golf, (as yet) no cricket, no Euros, so the football fix will remain a domestic affair. I must confess to struggling to build up enthusiasm for this ersatz sporting buffet, but inevitably, I will tune into at least some of the televised Premier League games out of curiosity, and I will do battle with the iFollow platform to check in on my beloved Rovers, but let’s be clear, it isn’t the same. Let no TV executive have any brainwaves off the back of this. After all, what is football fandom? The visceral thrill of being amongst your fellow fans, the collective moan after a misplaced pass or shot, the euphoria of a goal, but most of all the sense of community. The warm feelings of familiarity accompanying sightings of the shirts, scarves and hats as you approach the ground. The pre-match huddle in the pub. The camaraderie of your fellow devotees around and about your seat. For years now, that has been the most influential element of attending football matches for me; less the on-field spectacle, rather everything else surrounding the match-going experience. The friendships I have made through football have sustained, where many others have withered and my relationship with football has matured to a point where the result takes its proper place in the scheme of things. Many watching their teams, by whatever means and even some of those playing and managing over the next month will have been directly or indirectly affected by COVID. They will know more than ever the true place of football in the grand scheme of things, the most important of all the unimportant things.
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