By Simon ‘Sprout` Phillips
Hi and Welcome to this weeks something for the weekend. Since my last article we have had a couple of games and came away with a win and a defeat to end our little run we had got going. As I said last week I was unable to make last Saturdays game against Morecambe due to going to London for the weekend, but getting up in the freezing cold and seeing the temperature as I being driven along the M4 I was surprised the game was on. Well done to the club and staff for getting the game on and it was certainly worth it as we ran out 2-1 winners. I was keeping in touch of the action as much as I can via my mobile phone, but obviously can`t comment much on what happened having not been there. It was interesting and refreshing to hear the manager admit he got it wrong initially and had to correct it enabling the team to perform better and thus get the win. The more Mark McGhee speaks the more respect he seems to earn; winning has certainly helped to build a good connection to the fans as well and if we do have any sticky patches this sort of honesty and respect will always buy time. A far cry from the last incumbent.
Tuesday saw us travel to Shrewsbury and chalk up a 1-0 defeat. If we are honest I didn`t think the run was going to last against a good Shrewsbury team. For all the recent victories and the increasing buzz and some starting to mention play-offs, we are still clearly an unfit team with many loan signings and this is an area that needs to be addressed come the summer. Even if we managed to get to the play-offs we would have the problem with the loan signings and who knows how fit some of our walking wounded/not fit enough players are. We were certainly not disgraced in defeat but we have another tough home game coming up against Oxford that we have to tackle and we will see how the team fares after the midweek battle.
To change tack for a bit, it`s Thursday night and it`s Channel Five and I`m watching The Europa league and Ajax vs. Manchester United. For Man United as a club and probably their fans it`s not really a competition they want to be in having been in The Champions League since the dawn of time its self, and whilst I am sure Sir Alex would probably like to win it if he could, his focus will clearly be on the league title. The Europa League is often rubbished by some but then you have a team like Stoke who are hosting Valencia in perhaps their biggest game in their modern history. Stoke under Tony Pulis are an established Premier League side and no one tips them for relegation and yet they have little chance of breaking into the top 4 in the foreseeable future (or at least you`d think so). For Stoke the Europa League is a competition like the F.A Cup that the middle ranking teams should look to win while they are in it. It must good for Stoke to be an established Premier League team, but it would be boring to deem these competitions less important to finish in the top ten or Eight. It is a chance for Stoke and it`s fans for some European adventure and perhaps some glory and surely winning something is what it`s all about. Sitting here as a Rovers fan I can only dream of European nights in The Europa League much maligned as it often is.
Back to matters closer to home and I am looking forward tom getting back into action myself this weekend and making my way to The Mem to see us take on Oxford. As I said above I think it will be a tough game and how it goes will probably depend on how we have recovered from the past couple of games and how players are fairing with injuries. Hopefully we can grind out a result and hopefully start a new unbeaten run at the least. Oxford will certainly be up for it as they look to solidify their play-off position. Hopefully this weekend will also be a bit milder than last week as I don`t fancy having to put on extra socks and layers to stand out watching The Gas, not least as it makes clapping all the Rovers goals harder when you are looking like the Michelin man.
Whatever you are up to this weekend have a good one and UTG!
Simon ‘Sprout` Phillips