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Everything posted by riverholmes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. I'm not sure it's unethical, unless you're holding on to them well into their 20s, as Chelsea have done and, perhaps, sending them around on desultory loan deals, slowly, contributing to the sapping of their desire for the game, as they exist in career limbo. I think Durrant and Nolan will have aspirations to maybe get a chance at Rovers (Nolan did feature in pre-season) and, if not, I'm sure their Rovers experience will be good for their CV when they're moving on. I have seen Durrant play a few times on streams, last season, and, based on that very limited viewing, he seemed a technically good winger and was a regular in the great league run by the U23s. He looked very disciplined at defending as well as getting forward. I think it would be in his interests to look to move on, perhaps, next season, if he's not going anywhere (same for others). Even this campaign, he's been in and out from what I can tell. I think more unethical is the failure to encourage players when they are doing well, as was the case last season. When the U23s were performing well as a unit with some individual solid performances, it was an opportunity to have a look at a few. We needn't have had the outgoing aged quartet on the bench, for example, last year, and blooded a Garrett, Whitehall or McBride. This year, Clarkson is not going to contribute much, it seems, so Garrett, after his solid pre-season games, or Burns, before he went off to non-league, would've been an option, if not Butterworth. It does make me wonder if the Clarkson deal, and, perhaps, others, have clauses with appearance or squad requirements, though, I have no idea how commonplace this in the industry. All that said, like Khadra and Poveda, I have no doubt that Clarkson is talented and may do a job, but in our disjointed and unstructured team, he's found it hard and seems to have fallen down the pecking order - though, given how Davenport and Butterworth come and go in the squad, I'm not sure there is a clear pecking order. Edit: In terms of unethical and counter-productive, I think the treatment of Magloire falls into that category. He struggled badly at Motherwell on loan and I think it's quite clear that he's not ready to be thrown in, especially, at right back, as he was. Now, he's somewhere in twilight zone of the first team. To my mind, given that he's behind Buckley as a right back and last choice at CB, he should be in the U23s regularly and have a chance to stay fit, grow some confidence and showcase himself for his next and inevitable move.
  10. It's a balancing act for the U23s. Field too many young players, or make too many changes on a regular basis, you weaken the team and consistently losing or being outplayed is not necessary good for player development. I believe that this is the reason that players like Sam Durrant and Joe Nolan have been kept on at the club even though there is very little indication that they are seen as having a future in the seniors. Winning isn't necessarily the priority for the U23s, but I believe it should be a priority, amongst others, as it breeds confidence which is good for development and, if you're winning against the top teams (albeit, shorn of star players who are out on loan), it suggests players are performing at a high level.
  11. Those highlights make Brereton look exceptional but, I suppose, it's a selective account. Nonetheless, some good hold-up play and runs in there. The tackle is a really bad one, I feel. He threw his full body weight into the tackle and the Chilean defender's leg could've got caught between Brereton's legs on the slide. I think they're both lucky to not sustain a serious injury. Interesting to note that they seem to have moved Brereton around, from central or right and then more to the left in second half.
  12. Corry Evans is called up to play for NI after returning from another injury issue. After being made captain of Sunderland, his manager has suggested that his lack of a full pre-season might be affecting him, as he has managed seven or eight league games so far. I hope he can recover and play a fair number of games to see out his career but the fate of last campaign's experienced quartet of Evans, Holtby (signed for Holstein Kiel in Bundesliga 2), Elliot Bennett (Shrewsbury) and Downing (retired) supports many fans' claims last year that they were not good enough and the club needed to replace them. I suppose Bradley Johnson and, perhaps, Davenport, will similarly slide down the leagues once they move on from Rovers, as, I'm not sure either of them are good enough at this level. Davenport, at least, has some years in him to develop.
  13. I've not seen enough of Man U to be sure but it did seem as if the arrival of Ronaldo coincided with the downwards form of other players like Greenwood, that were doing excellently at the start. I wonder if the stories are true and the team has shifted psychologically into more of a one-man team and suffered as a result. I was very surprised to see Ronaldo beaming after a recent late goal to save the team in Europe, I think, against Atalanta. To my mind, his happiness was a possible signal that personal plaudits might be more important than team achievement. (Perhaps, the reality of his career drawing to a close is a factor) A draw against Atalanta, whatever the circumstances, is poor form for Man U. I'm speculating, of course, and Ronaldo has helped carry Portugal effectively, so I don't doubt he can lift a team. All that being said, Man U had problems last season, before Ronaldo, so I wouldn't pin every thing on him, especially, the long-term issues. I still go back to Man U getting rid of Ighalo and Lukaku who were effective if not elegant. I believe, Man U put aesthetics and brand image above results in getting rid of those two and now find themselves struggling to find a back up striker, given that Cavani is quite injury prone.
  14. One-cap England wonder quiz on BBC features five ex-Rovers players. I managed to name 12/20: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/58845403 One of the clues refers to a midfielder who should avoid rabonas...
  15. A brave move to shake up the team by Mowbray and it paid off. The decision to bring back Davenport rather than field Johnson or Rothwell was, perhaps, the biggest surprise. Skilful players make a difference. I would like to see Rovers continue with two wingers and Brereton as a striker. However, this game does shed more light on the appalling choices in prior games. Considering the wingers we currently have in Dolan, Poveda, Khadra and, even, Rothwell, the decision to play a false 9 and to use Gallagher out wide is simply unforgivable. If Mowbray reverts to that, or drops Davenport from the squad, to accommodate others, there can be no defence for him. Not that there was much. Players need consistency of selection to perform. Davenport might not be the future and his contract expiring but he now at least deserves to be on the bench. Likewise, Poveda and Khadra deserve to stay in the side. Mowbray has been publicly talking about Liverpool as a model for his team. The front three that started today are closer to that mould, if that's what the management are going for.
  16. 'That’ll Toughen Them Up' A theatrical production from Venky’s and Tony Mowbray. This production stars Jan Paul Van Hecke as a young Dutch centre back from Brighton who finds himself starting for loan club, Rovers, in a big game against second placed team Fulham. The film starts with JP, as he is known, walking off the pitch, puffing his cheeks. He has just been sent off for an exceptionally clumsy flying tackle. The film zooms back into JP’s recent past. He has been unexpectedly sent out by his club, Brighton, in the Premier League, to the north of the country to gain experience. He’s sent to Lancashire, with second tier team, Blackburn Rovers, managed by veteran manager, Tony Mowbray. Young JP arrives at his new club near the start of the season injured and unable to play. He watches from the stands as his unfancied team have a reasonable but inconsistent start. Jan Paul, initially, finds himself struggling to fit in and pining for his native Holland, where he grew up in a small coastal city where fishing has traditionally been the source of livelihoods. Nonetheless, JP is itching to play, as he sees manager, Mowbray, select a number of new rookies. He has played for Heerenveen in the top Dutch League. He knows it’s only a matter of time that he recovers and gets his chance. His assurance grows as he witnesses some poor games by his team. Several games into the season and Rovers are positioned towards the upper half of the league. Their veteran defender, Ayala, gets injured and JP is called upon. After an unsteady start he settles in and helps the team to some wins. He's lacking fitness but the manager trusts him. When he is dropped back to the subs bench, JP urges Mowbray to give more of a chance. Mowbray tells him to be patient and that his time will come again. Rovers are to face the league’s second top team, Fulham, in a midweek game. It’s the start of November and the weather in England is very cold. JP feels at home, as it reminds him of playing football in the winter in the Netherlands, with the cold North Sea air catching in the breath. The day before the big game, JP is told that he will start. He will not be in a back three any more, but trusted as one of the two centre backs. Ayala is still injured and JP is preferred over the other young English defenders in the squad. Mowbray and his assistants, sit him down in a meeting to prepare him for the game. “You’ve got to be tough, JP,” Mowbray says. “We believe in you. We can see your technical ability and your athleticism. But, you’ve got to be strong and dominant. Don’t let them bully you. This is great preparation for when you’re back in the Premier League.” JP will be up against the top scorer in the league, Fulham’s big Serbian, Aleksandar Mitrovic. He is powerful and very prolific, with international experience. A more experienced colleague is given the responsibility to mark Mitrovic at set-pieces but JP is warned that every cross will be a danger. He’s given a DVD of Mitrovic’s recent goals by the coaches and finds himself dreaming of clashing with the danger man. The game comes and very quickly, the team concede two goals. Fulham are controlling the game and the ball and Rovers are chasing shadows. Mitrovic has scored, out jumping a defender at a corner, and has been winning most headers and holding the ball up. The moment of reckoning comes for JP, as a long ball is played to a Fulham forward. The ball is high and the opponent gets there first. If JP doesn’t stop the player, the attacker will have a run to goal. “Don’t be bullied – show your athleticism”. The manager’s words are ringing in his ears. JP launches himself at the ball with his leg up and the moment he lifts off, he knows he’s made a mistake. His foot was high but not enough to reach the ball and there was no way he could get there without kicking the player in the face. He misses the ball and crashes through the opponent. They collapse together in a heap, with the home crowd screaming displeasure. It was stupid but not malicious. No-one is surprised by the red card. JP trudges off the pitch feeling embarrassed. The game finishes 7-0. It’s Rovers heaviest defeat in years. Mitrovic scores only one and the most damage was done by Fulham’s pacy wide forwards. No matter how deep and in numbers they defended, the wingers beat them and crossed or scored. By the end, Rovers had given up on a formation and scurried trying to defend and almost begging for the final whistle from the referee. The changing room was sombre. The manager berated them for not winning their individual battles, as he had prepared them for. Everyone expected a difficult game but not as terrible as that. It had been like lambs to the slaughter. JP apologised to the team and the manager but they insisted it wasn’t his fault. He’s relieved. It was true, there were so many awful performances, he couldn’t be singled out too much and he would get another chance when he returned from suspension. “Definitely, the Flying Dutchman,” a coach joked. JP smiled and winced, internally. He’d panicked but, he’d get stronger and tougher. He would improve. He remembered Tony Mowbray’s words after the game. “JP, it’s a harsh lesson. It will toughen you up for Brighton. It’s a fucking man’s game.” The production ends with JP at an amusement park on a cold and wet day with his partner. They mood is light and they're queuing for a roller coaster. "Everyone starts somewhere," JP says wistfully.
  17. It could be their way of expressing disillusionment with Mowbray or the club - or, they're just so caught up in their bubble of footballer friends, that they 'like' blindly and/or, see club attachments as far lesser than friendships. My gut feeling, based on nothing, is the former. I think they probably are aware of the message this sends. I've heard similar issues occurring with Premier League players and it tends to be out-of-favour players, I think, who do this kind of thing. Willian at Arsenal did it shortly before leaving. It doesn't happen but I would have huge admiration for a senior player to challenge bad management, internally, and if it's not rectified, to sacrifice their place in the team by speaking out publicly. The consequences would be harsh but a high profile player could likely find another club and not suffer too much. I can't expect any player to do this, as I'm not sure I'd risk my standard of living like that, but speaking out for the sake of a club and their fans would be very noble. I wonder if there's any case of it? (Roy Keane sort of did it at Ireland, though, personal feuding with Mick McCarthy seems to have been a part of his pulling out before World Cup 2002).
  18. I'd be grateful for anyone who saw the game to explain what was happening here, for Wilson's first goal. after we went down to 10 men. It looks like a 3-3-3 formation. I've just seen the highlights and it is a really sorry sight. Rovers players were utterly lost and frightened, such that we had virtually everyone in the box trying to defend and we were still getting picked off with simple crosses. The absence of any meaningful structure in the team must go down as Mowbray's fault.
  19. The 7-0 is painful but the reality is that Fulham have some excellent players at this level and will be in the Premier League next year (for one season, most likely). I have no doubt that Rovers will go on losing and winning runs and finish mid to lower table. If Brereton continues his form, perhaps, even a bit higher. However, regardless of where we finish the club is in huge trouble. We're losing key players on a free soon. The apparent lack of forward planning is highlighted, also, in the resort to inexperienced loanees that were signed for some non-vital positions - and, then, not using them, failure to loan out, at any decent level, members of last year's successful U23 team and the loyalty to departing players with no future at the club, such as Downing, Holtby and Evans. In 2000-01, Graeme Souness' Rovers were propelled to promotion by Jansen, Duff and Dunn (along with Tigana's Fulham and Allardyce's Bolton). At the time, we had the money to cherry pick some of the best players in the league, at the lower clubs, such as Marcus Bent and Craig Hignett. However, the core of the team was that young skilful trio, backed up by solid players. I think the three teams of 2000-01 that got promoted might represent the three ways, still, for smaller clubs to try and compete at the highest level - though it is much harder now with even more financial inequality between the Premier League and the rest. Fulham went for some technical foreign players, like Saha, Rovers, relied on highly gifted British/Irish young players, like Duff, Dunn and Jansen - whilst, Allardyce at Bolton, with less money to spend, got the most out of less gifted players like Michael Ricketts, with more direct and physical tactics. The approaches are not completely mutually exclusive but some practical model for the team and the club to compete is necessary. Blindly following our current course will only lead to a downwards spiral. With our nightmares with various managers over the years, from Ince to Berg, I just hope that more fundamental changes occur, than just a managerial change. To my mind, if it was possible and I have no idea if it is, some fan protest movement is needed to halt the creation of the Super League by default, that is the Premier League and push for fan participation and ownership. Everything we feared about the Super League is, effectively, taking place, as an English version, with access being denied to compete for the rest. I don't see anything happening in that direction but Rovers predicament, Derby's, Bolton's - Bury's - must start fans to look more beyond their own clubs and realise that their game is being destroyed. Perhaps, Rovers, with their Jack Walker legacy and Premier League connection, are finally reaping what other fans have been suffering.
  20. It's just inexcusable that Mowbray is persisting with false 9 formations. It has rarely worked with Dolan and never worked with anyone else. Unless the team is exceptional in possession, it merely emboldens the opposition to push up and press the opposition higher up the field. Edit: We should, however, recognise that Fulham are far superior to us. Mitrovic, Decordova-Reid, Seri are technically amongst the best in the league and, at times, didn't look out of place in the Premiership, though, they didn't have enough as a team to succeed. And, Cairney off the bench shows their strength.
  21. Let's not forget that Jan Paul van Hecke, Khadra, Poveda and Clarkson will return to their respective clubs toughened up and with some first team experience, ready to offer more to their clubs - it's not all negative! Fulham were always going to far superior to us, so we needed to play with men behind the ball, rather than go in with three forwards. I say that in hindsight but I think most of us knew this beforehand. I don't see Mowbray going. He has the excuse that Fulham are one of the best teams in the league.
  22. My guess is that Buckley will be right forward and either Dolan or Brereton central. I think Khadra would be better suited but will wait and see.
  23. Perhaps, it's simply a reality of where we now are as a club, but to read quotes from Mowbray praising how clever Brighton are in allowing Jan Paul van Hecke to come to Rovers and toughen up and develop is quite jarring. It's not nice to accept we're playing a feeder role for Premier League teams. I'd much rather Mowbray keep quiet and then try to sign the player if he does well - if it's a possibility. (No doubt Brighton have their scouts checking in on him, so, maybe I'm overplaying how influential Mowbray's comments are). Playing this developmental role for other clubs would be more sustainable if, we had our own youngsters developing at other clubs. However, there is no-one from our development or fringe players, currently, out there at a decent level (aside from Chapman who is leaving). The last ones I think who had successful loan to first team progression were Wharton, Lenihan and Raya. Carter has been on the fringes after his Burton loan too. This season looks like a missed opportunity.
  24. Newly promoted Ipswich Town finished 5th and 3 points off the Champions League under George Burley. I believe that was the best a newly promoted club had done since Forest in 94/95. Whilst it is an anomaly and the Premier League has been dominated by a few clubs, Souness' newly promoted Rovers finished 7th, I believe. Concentration of money is making it a lot harder. Perhaps, promoted sides being raided of players before a ball is kicked, as Norwich were with Buendia, will become the norm. Clubs will accept relegation from the start and look to absorb money so they can return next time. Correction - Rovers finished 10th in 2001-02, on promotion and 6th, the following year, as Mattyblue clarified.
  25. I would not be surprised if the Newcastle takeover influenced Conte's decision, after he turned down Spurs in the summer. The Premier League bought some of the best Serie A players from last season - Lukaku, Ronaldo and Romero. Now, with Newcastle's Saudi money, the Premier League will completely wipe the floor with the other leagues for years - at least, in terms of transfers. Perhaps, I'm just jaded, but the professional game is increasingly boring me with its hyperbole and short-termism. Consider the Championship top ten goalscorers, currently: Mitrovic, Brereton, Solanke, Gyökeres, Swift and Joël Piroe. I know very little about some of them but looking at the ones I know of, it gives me little hope for the clubs that get promoted. The elite game is increasingly being rigged by money and losing touch with the rest of the football pyramid. It's been like that for decades but it's now even more extreme. Conte's Spurs will flash some money and before long, he'll be off to another club. There was renewed momentum towards public demand for a degree of fan ownership in British clubs after the Super League debacle, but that seems to have been washed away by the wild investment. The self-serving authorities are blinding fans with financial wealth as the game is being killed. Edit: I think some gains were made at Man U and Chelsea regarding fan participation in decision-making after the Super League protests.
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