By Simon ‘Sprout` Phillips
Hi and welcome to something for the weekend. I didn`t manage to write anything last week as I have been rather busy at work with numerous problems trying to do the exciting job of year end accounts. When I did get to the end of the week, tired and a bit irritable I was however looking forward to Mark McGhee`s first home game against Bradford City. There was certainly a more positive feeling around the ground prior to the game and there was certainly a pleasing feeling to come away with three points. That said It was not a particularly great game of football in my view.
From a Rovers point of view in the first half I think we tried to rush quite a few things and never really settled and in the second we did end up sitting back on our lead. Personally I think this was probably because of the change of atmosphere and there being a sense of excitement, nervousness, expectation and not wanting to come away empty handed. In some ways it was like the very early games under Buckle where you felt there was something in the players and just needing it to come together. There was certainly no lack of effort and we took our goals well especially Elliot Richards after some good forward play by Scotty McGleish. Having watched the goals against Cheltenham as well I think it is safe to say that McGleish certainly brings that bit of nous and movement up front that benefit`s the how you say unpredictable Zebroski and no doubt should rub off on Richards who should learn everything he can of him whilst he is here. I have always rated Scott McGleish and was excited when we signed him. What is a shame is he is nearly 38 and not just approaching 28.
One thing about the season is we have certainly picked up some injuries and as we get someone back we seem to lose another. Unfortunately for us our latest injury appears to be Aaron Downes who could well be out for the season. He has certainly improved our defence and seems to be the organiser we have needed there. Lets be honest there is nothing special about him, bur he is a steady defender that you need at this level and certainly makes sure everyone is where they should be. Sometimes it is amazing how one player can make a huge difference. I don`t think we have bad defenders individually but have just needed the Downes type character to compliment them. The one saving grace is now we should have enough about us in terms of confidence and renewed belief to be pretty safe this season and Downes although he will be a miss, not as much as he potentially could have been.
Obviously we have had the transfer window and have added a couple of additions to our squad in midfielder Matthew Lund and defender/midfielder Jim Patterson. Welcome to both of them. It sounds as if they could both be candidates for longer term deals so we will get the chance to see what they can bring to the squad. The window has also seen Ben Swallow depart and sign for York and I wish him well in his future endeavours.
To return to the earlier accounts theme, despite the uplift on the pitch the recent figures released were not such great reading with the losses made and the increase in directors loans to cover the past twelve months of disappointment. Having had to get rid of another manager and not really having a player of note to sell then next years figures will not be pretty reading either. As has been said before by many people including the Chairman we cannot continue with the sort of losses shown and must reverse this trend. Obviously the stadium appears to be one of the main schemes to help reverse the trend and apparently write off the clubs debt if it should be built. Whilst this sounds great it does raise it`s own questions back towards how the funding of the stadium is going to happen, especially when whatever the cost of building UWE Stadium will probably need to add £5m to pay off the debt that is owed or at least that is how I read it given the answers given so far. As we move closer to the stadium project perhaps coming to fruition we will find out more detail that will resolve certain questions.
Finally back to on field matters and weather permitting with this recent cold snap we face a trip to Aldershot this weekend. This is certainly another chance to pick up three more points and carry on our recent revival. With injuries, suspension and a couple of new players it will be interesting as to what team will take to the pitch. I think most of us will certainly take a draw given some of our problems and hopefully we can get players back before we take on Morecambe next Saturday. Whatever you are up to this weekend I hope you have a good one and make sure you wrap up warm. UTG!
Simon ‘Sprout` Phillips