The excellent Something For The Weekend is back!
Hi and after a small break, welcome to a new edition of something for the weekend. What with going on holiday and a few family issues I am able to actually get round to comment on something in the on-going world of Bristol Rovers. So here goes.
Whilst on holiday it seems I missed an encouraging display against Torquay, followed up by pretty poor ones against Wimbledon and Accrington Stanley. Anyway that launches me into the first game I managed to see with my own eyes for a while and the F.A Cup sponsored by rubbish American Lager game at home to Sheffield United. The first half was quite encouraging and we made a good game of it with David Clarkson giving us an early lead. Clarkson has been our best player so far this season and I actually quite like him in the central midfield role where he can get more of the ball and also get forward. What he need is some movement in front of him and some anticipation of the balls he can play. I thought we were every bit as equal if not better than Sheffield United in the first half, although I didn`t believe they would be as poor in the second half as they were in the first judging by their league position and they duly obliged. I think we sat back a bit too much, I guess in an attempt to play on the counter and invited pressure from a decent team who capitalised and ended up taking the win. Although it would have been nice to progress in the cup, I wasn`t disappointed with the overall performance and effort shown from the team to which I tweeted into Geoff Twentyman after the game that there were positives, but we have to make the most of it and not waste them like we have in the past. Something that Tuesday`s game against Southend would show again.
Tuesday was quite frankly shocking. I am not sure how to describe how bad our performance was. Between the set-up of the team and the players not seeming to be happy, I don`t think anyone knew what we were supposed to be doing. Two or three times in the first half David Clarkson was arguing with Mark McGhee on what was supposed to be happening and I think that summed up the game. Apparently we were supposed to be playing a 4-2-3-1 formation, which as a formation I don`t think was a bad idea but Tome Eaves was hardly supported by the three being that they so deep all the time. Clarkson and Broghammer in that formation are looking for movement and options and Derek Riordan almost seemed to be playing as another left-back at time. What was even more annoying was that although we were ropey at the back, Southend weren`t anything special back there and we managed to get ourselves in front and you hope that would be a catalyst for our performance to improve throughout the game but it just completely fell apart.
Another worrying aspect of the game was the crowd. The official attendance of 4,721 has to be of concern to the board, and when you take out the non attending ticket holders out of that, the ‘real` figure was probably under 4,500. Going in to Saturday after Tuesday`s performance, I can`t see the attendance figure being much better judging by some of the comments I have been hearing from Gasheads. As well as the numbers the atmosphere was almost non-existent for a large chunk of the game. With the team in disarray, the crowd was deathly silent. It was like the crowd had been so worn down that, people couldn`t even bring themselves to moan and it almost became like a reserve or training fixture where you could hear everything the players were saying, until we pulled a goal back and that little spark of hope inside got people trying to spur the team on for what would have been a completely undeserved point.
Saturday sees us host Chesterfield and we simply must win in my view. I haven`t checked the fixtures but it is entirely possible we could be bottom of the table at 5pm. No one is relegated at this stage of the season, but getting bogged down there is not an option, because on current form I am not sure how we would drag ourselves out of it. There seems to be plenty of disillusionment among the fan base now regarding Rovers. The usual murmurings of sacking the manager are starting to come up again, but I am not sure what sacking another manager will achieve. It`s not so much sacking a manager, but the having the faith that he will be adequately replaced and we won`t be doing the same thing in 6, 12, 18 months` time because of bigger failings at the club. At the moment my biggest fear is that so much focus is directed towards the UWE project and that is supposed to be the Mecca and solution to all the problems that face BRFC and that perhaps over the past couple of years the football side of the club has not had enough attention. It is one thing to give a manager a decent budget and let him get on with it, but it seem to be the managers past, present and maybe future all lack a support structure from coaching to scouting to effectively move the club forward on the pitch. To me we seem to be stuck in a vicious circle that needs to be broken.
Anyway, enough doom and gloom. I hope you can all get to The Mem on Saturday and cheer the team on to a much needed 3 points, because we certainly need them right now. Come on Rovers! , Come on you Blues!
Simon ‘Sprout` Phillips