By Simon ‘Sprout` Phillips
Hi again to my latest something for the weekend. I was wondering what I was going to write after Saturdays defeat and then something happened that made it all a bit easier. The reaction to the defeat, the managers interview and reaction to said interview.
I thought for the first thirty minutes we played better then at any point in the win against Shrewsbury, but then we had our cock-up and let Aldershot score, from which after we never recovered and did resort to constantly trying to lump it to Matt Harrold. The result and overall performance was certainly not what was wanted. Aldersot certainly game for a point with one up front, I lost count of the time the Aldershot `Keeper kept kicking touch and barely looking for their forward, and as soon we gifted them their goal they were laughing. They shut up shop and defended the lead solidly made easier by our lack of guile and imagination in attack. Whilst the display was poor I was not best pleased to hear a few boos and ironic cheers when we did string a few passes together in the second half. I`d be lying if I said I have never taken part in anything like that before, and whilst I could understand the frustration I don`t think it was the time or the place. We certainly aren`t struggling, being regularly rubbish and not putting any effort in.
After the game and reading and hearing people`s reaction, it was like people were making out we were doomed and getting relegated to the conference. It was all very OTT. We currently stand at Won 3, Drawn 3, Lost 3 in the league and have held a Championship team and lost to two League One teams in the cups. Not time for wrist slashing just yet. Yes the game and the football from The Gas against The Shots wasn`t great, but people made it sound like we were heading to oblivion questioning the new manager and his raft of new signings.
Then the proverbial hit the fan with the managers interview. Mr Buckle suggested we should lower are expectations after one promotion in twenty years. This coupled with the poor Aldershot result seemed to send many people into a bout of apoplexy. Now I certainly can see why people got miffed with that and I certainly don`t think the timing after such a result was great, but then there probably isn`t a great time to say such a thing. However to an extent Paul Buckle has a point. Rovers haven`t done much in the past twenty years bar one play-off promotion and a cup run. I like every Gashead doesn`t want to see us in this division, but the club has underachieved given what we could have been for many a year. Even when we got promoted via Wembley and went to the Millennium, we never really capitalised on that momentum. I don`t want to get into who or where the fault of that may lie, but I would hope that under the apparent rebuild that started this summer and the UWE stadium plans that we could put an end to some of that underachievement.
Anyway back to the managers interview. Whilst his comment about expectation caused uproar and Paul Buckle was decried as a hoof ball merchant, the rest of his interview appeared to go unheard and unread upon the immediate reaction to those words. Paul Buckle went on to state that we played too direct and lumped it to Matt Harrold too often and that we needed more guile and to work the ball more, especially against teams that come to The Memorial Stadium with one up front and to make it difficult for us.
Since Paul Buckle identified the problem that seemed to irk most about the Aldershot performance, then it is only fair to give him the time to try and correct it, and perhaps now without any Tuesday distractions more time can be spent working on the training field to put it right. If he is sating the same things after Christmas, then perhaps people could have a good healthy moan and debate the merits of what we have achieved over the first half of the season. In the summer many people seemed optimistic and of course the aim was promotion. What`s the point if you don`t aim high. Yet a few months early into the season and people appear to be panicking. Don`t panic (at least yet); No one said it was going to be easy and there is still plenty of football to be played. As I write this Paul Buckle`s Thursday press brief has gone up on the website and hopefully his comments will bring some people around after the disappointment of last Saturday.
This Saturday sees us take on table topping Morecambe. Whilst I can see people worried and not expecting much against them especially with some of our defence performances. What price a Gas clean sheet? I think most of us would settle for a point at Morecambe and hopefully we can put in a performance to go with it. If we managed to pick up a win and three points then we will be knocking around the first set of dotted lines where we at least hope to be. Calm heads Gasheads, and lets get fully behind the boys. Getting agitated at this stage of the season will benefit no one.
Whatever you are up to this weekend enjoy and hopefully we will have three more points to cheer us up and the worries of this past Saturday will seem far away.
Simon ‘Sprout` Phillips