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riverholmes

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  1. Last time Rovers were near the top of the Championship and seriously dreaming of promotion was, I believe, under Souness, nearly twenty years ago. It was a very different situation, as our stars were young players with longer futures at the club, in Dunn, Duff and Jansen - and we were very big and regular transfer spenders in the league. I recall that major midway season loan signings Eyal Berkovic and Alan Mahon both added quality to help Rovers get over the line and finish second, behind Jean Tigana's Fulham. It's a stark contrast to the unstable first team squad or "shop window eleven" that we have now. That's not to question anyone's motives to Rovers but the reality is that a core of the team will likely not remain beyond this season. A few, we can hope might sign new deals. The manager's future is also uncertain. We're nowhere near the financial situation we were in in 2000/01 and can't just buy up the top scorer of another club, as we were hoovering up in those days - signing Craig Hignett from Barnsley and Marcus Bent from Sheffield Utd - but, I think an experienced and technically gifted signing would be worth the risk of trying to cement a play off spot - if we're in the mix by the end of the Xmas period. Personally, I think the best bet of finding someone affordable like that would be abroad - but I don't know how easy it is to sign overseas players now. I would suggest an experienced DM and a back up RB are key positions, as has been discussed. Travis will possibly breakdown at some point, due to his style and the number of games, and then we're struggling. I happen to think that Clarkson might surprise us and play a role before he heads back to Liverpool, but it won't be in the DM role. I would hope he will because from the looks of it, he either has a contractual obligation or a managerial obligation to be a sub every match.
  2. Wharton, Carter and Lenihan cut their teeth, as it were, during loan spells. Wharton's five loan spells (and two League 2 promotion medals and one play off) was, to my mind, excessive, and he had done enough to be called into the fold at Rovers but fortunately, an injury crisis did happen and he got his chance. It's a shame for the current crop of Rovers U23 players that none have had that opportunity to go out on loan to a decent standard this season. It's a missed opportunity, assuming there were League 1/2 clubs after some of the players, which, I'm sure was the case for some.
  3. In an ideal world, Clarkson would be the back up for CM but he's not shown it so far and might be only ahead of Eastham in chances of getting on. At some point, I'd like to see him in CM but this probably isn't the one. I'd go for Davenport, if the midfield continues to struggle. 442, with Buckley crossing from the right might be a desperate measure worth trying in these conditions.
  4. I don't know the details about other clubs in the league but Mowbray has had the luxury of splashing cash on squad players, including Amari'i Bell (reported £300k for a player with six months left on his contract at Fleetwood), Edun (an undisclosed six figure sum) and Pears (undisclosed). Then, the loan fees for Harvey Elliot, Branthwaite and Harwood-Bellis, as well as the current crop, I would guess would be sizeable based on their clubs and England youth international experience. I think Mowbray appreciates skilful and technical players and, probably, has some good links in the English game, given his time in the game and this is reflected is some good signings. Getting Harvey Elliot was quite a coup. Even Poveda, Clarkson and Khadra are signs of Mowbray's intent, even if it became clear that Mowbray didn't know where has going to play them. By contrast, in his West Brom heyday, Mowbray had a fixed formation and purchased players for specific positions. He led them to winning the Championship in, I think, 2007/08 and reached the FA Cup semi finals. He did that having done a squad overhaul and sold some of his best players in Jason Koumas, Curtis Davies and Diomansy Kamara. He signed a whole bunch of players and put together a team based on technical skill. His midfield, I believe, included Robert Koren, Zoltan Gera, James Morrison and Jonathan Greening, with Kevin Phillips and Roman Bednar or Ishmael Miller up front. West Brom fell flat in the Premier League and got relegated and Mowbray went off to Celtic and, I think, his stock fell from there. However, West Brom would appoint Roberto Di Matteo and return to the Premier League and stay there for some 8 years under a variety of managers, including Hodgson and Pulis. For a manager of Mowbray's experience and success at West Brom over a few seasons to be engaging in incoherent choices lately such as playing a tall, relatively slow striker on the wing and small midfielders as lone centre forwards strikes me as someone trying but failing to come to terms with changes in the game. After all, football has changed drastically from 2007/08 when Kevin Phillips fired Mowbray's West Brom to the Championship winner's trophy and the Premier League. Most clubs were playing orthodox 4-4-2, which is now a rarity. A key aspect of West Brom's success, back then, was relatively low cost but technically gifted foreign players like Koren, Bednar and Gera and at Rovers, Mowbray hasn't been able to recruit those kind of players, for whatever reason. Now that Mowbray has apparently, stumbled upon a formation which seems to be working (after the low in the 7-0 drubbing when no-one seemed to know what they were doing), perhaps, we might see him recover some of his own confidence. I saw a quote in which Mowbray spoke of how he had advised Rothwell, prior to the Stoke City game, that Rothwell had more mobility than their midfield and could exploit that. It was welcome to hear that after so much talk by Mowbray of the threats posed by such and such opposition player. However, I do feel that regardless of what happens this season, in the next few years, when we lose a bunch of key players, some on free transfers, we'll be in a better position to judge the Mowbray era to date. I fear that loan signings and one year contract extensions have papered over poor decisions at the club that will become more apparent.
  5. I think Nyambe desperately needs a rest. He's played non-stop, as far as I can recall, and has been jetting out to Africa to play for Namibia. Moreover, last year he was attempting to do the job of three men, given how poor the centre backs were and how inadequate Gallagher was as a right winger. My guess would be that he's suffering some form of burn-out. At times Nyambe has disappointed and his development has been inconsistent but there was a period last season when he was our strongest defender and biggest attacking outlet with charging runs. Meanwhile, Mowbray continued his drip of publicly faulting him (as he has done with Rothwell), whilst overlooking the terrible showings of the likes of Douglas, Brereton, Gallagher and others. Perhaps, a bit like Junior Hoilett, who also left on a free, he won't ever be a real top player, as his attributes and glimpses of form sometimes suggested, but, nonetheless, I can't blame him for apparently wanting a move to try to develop as a player and we'll certainly miss him.
  6. Really bizarre defending by Derby for their conceded goals. Charlie Austin, a striker not renowned for pace or skill, is invited to cross the ball for Willock's goal and then Andre Gray is politely given space to flick the ball up a couple of times and then wallop his fine volley. Both were impressive finishes but a basic of defending is closing down the opposition to hurry them and maybe even tackle.
  7. Good to read that Tyler Magloire got a game for the U23, albeit, in a 1-0 defeat to West Ham U23, who are, at the moment, top of the league. Rovers are second from bottom this time round but, to put it in context, all the clubs in the league are Premier League sides, except for Derby, who are bottom. Just having a read of a match report and it's interesting that Brennan played right wing/forward, which is, I think, a fairly new position for him - also, again, no sign of goalie, Stergiakis. I'm guessing he must have a long-term injury or, perhaps, the club are looking to move him on, as he features so intermittently for a player signed with a reported transfer fee.
  8. Credit to the manager and players. My happiness is tempered by a few things, most of all, the apparent low standard of the league. Our backup CB is currently Bradley Johnson and there's barely a hope of survival should the unimaginable happen and we get promoted. But, really good to see Buckley doing well after so much criticism and, in fact, doing well both offensively and defensively, when he was dismissed by some as too weak for this level. Also, glad that Lenihan is having a run of form. He might be leaving but he's been a good servant for the club and fans. Hope the run can keep going.
  9. To be fair to Armstrong, he was playing in a team that finished 15th. Despite having a gem of a player like Harvey Elliot to support him, last season, the defensive set-up by management was woeful, with Brereton and Gallagher out wide, repeatedly failing to provide protection to the full-backs - as well as well as not providing much width either. Whilst Brereton wasn't in his current form, a squad with him, Armstrong and Elliot, should have been pushing for the play-offs.
  10. To be fair to Armstrong, he was playing in a team that finished 15th. Despite having a gem of a player like Harvey Elliot to support him, last season, the defensive set-up by management was woeful, with Brereton and Gallagher out wide, repeatedly failing to provide protection to the full-backs - as well as well as not providing much width either. Whilst Brereton wasn't in his current form, a squad with Armstrong, Brereton, Elliot and Gallagher (who I believe to be a solid 10 goal a season striker at this level at least), should have been pushing for the play-offs.
  11. The problem we've had numerous times with 3-5-2, under Mowbray, is that the central midfield gets pulled out of position and overrun. If it's to work, I think Buckley needs to play deeper and support Rothwell and Travis defensively, otherwise, I expect us to concede chances freely.
  12. In January 2018, Rovers wanted to sign Bell immediately rather than wait for his contract to expire later that year, so that he could boost the squad for thr promotion campaign. I'm guessing that if Fulham and Bournemouth run away with automatic promotion, and there's less need to gamble in that way, the already very limited transfer fee market for Lenihan, Rothwell and Nyambe recedes and they're more likely to leave for nothing or a nominal sum. Even more so as they haven't been playing at the top of their games consistently.
  13. That's true, he did get selected by their manager, Graham Alexander, for pretty much the whole spell. Based only on highlights, Magloire seemed, at times, to lack agility, despite his reputed pace. I suspect that part of this was down to lack of confidence, as his body language, to me, didn't look right. The issue, last year, was exemplified in a 4-1 defeat to Kilmarnock when two goals conceded were at least partly involving Magloire. You can see what I mean at 3 mins 30 seconds and 5 mins 41 seconds in these Youtube highlights. There is an element of bad luck in there too. But Branthwaite came away from our loan spell and has been on Everton's bench this season, so, hopefully, Magloire can improve and get his career going.
  14. I tried to follow Magloire at Motherwell through highlights and their online fan forums and he was picked regularly by their manager in a three man defence. He did ok at first but some notable errors and, perhaps, bad luck, in the form of slip-ups, resulted in fans, apparently, wishing for him to be dropped. A notable error was in the Scottish cup, against Hibs, when he allowed an attacker a virtually unchallenged header. It's 1 min 20 seconds in, if you want to watch it on Youtube here. Of course, the goal can't completely be attributed to him, I was hoping that he'd do well because he was captain of the Rovers U23s/reserves in the past and seemed to be a bright prospect. Moreover, we seriously lack pacy defenders in the first team. I'm sorry to hear that he has personal difficulties, if that is the case. To my outsider perspective, which is based on very limited evidence, he seems to be lacking confidence and U23 football seems ideal for him to refind form - or, a loan spell in January. In terms of counter-productive loan spells, I think Harry Chapman is an example. Getting first team experience is good for players but it needs to be at the right level and right time. If a player is repeatedly sent on loan, there is a chance of demoralisation from the sense of stagnation and rejection. Mowbray, of course, repeatedly alluded that Chapman's commitment was lacking and suggested that was why he wasn't selected more often. On the other hand, Scott Wharton is an example who kept performing during numerous EFL loan spells and finally, thanks to, I believe, an injury crisis, got his chance at Rovers.
  15. Corry Evans played as a sub in NI's two recent games, including in their impressive 0-0 against Italy today. The result means that Switzerland qualify automatically for the Qatar World Cup from the group and Italy must navigate the play-offs. Northern Ireland finished a creditable third, ahead of Bulgaria and Lithuania. Evans' commitment and contribution to his national team is very impressive, whatever one might say about the consistency of his club appearances in recent years.
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