Ob Column Preview


While any comeback from two goals down to grab a point through a dramatic injury-time equaliser is cause for celebration and positive vibes to carry into the next match, few of us were settling for a point against Blackpool in what looked the most winnable remaining match on our fixture card.

A draw with fellow relegation rivals at home on a day when most clubs in a similar predicament – Villa and Birmingham excepted – did as well or better was not exactly reason to drape the bunting across the street .

Worryingly, by Steve Kean’s own admission, the fightback that earned the 2-2 outcome had little to do with any stirring words or tactical sharpness on his part.

The much-needed and evidently productive half-time rabble-rousing speech appears to have been conducted by senior pros such as Samba and Nelsen while the realisation that Blackpool’s desperately poor third-choice keeper  would be unable to cope with an Allardyce-style aeriel bombardment took far too long to register with the manager.

Kean thought we were “brilliant “ in the first half. Mind-boggling. Granted, for the second successive game an awful penalty shout made it an uphill battle for Rovers but the immediate response to that early seatback was feeble and with the ball flying into our net on regular occasions  it was perhaps fortuitous that we were only two down at the interval.

After the break however, with a notably fired-up Samba an almost demonic force in his anguished crusade to redress the situation, and Hoilett superb, Rovers showed the urgency and sheer will to impose themselves on mediocre opposition which had been demonstrably lacking to that point.

This was not Chelsea or Arsenal we were two down to remember, but a side containing journeymen such as Luke Varney and Gary Taylor-Fletcher whose more natural habitat would be The Crown Ground or Edgeley Park if not Highams.

Had we scored with five minutes left, we would surely have gone on to win it having finally identified the glaring weakness.

Still, no further harm was done to our predicament, which remains hazardous to say the least.

With the Second City pair heading South in the table at an exponentially even greater rate of knots than us, perhaps even this wretched, bungled, mis-handled sequence of events of a season will end with us maybe a point ahead of the bottom three. I’d settle for that right now.

It’s all very well going on about bouncebackability, yo-yo clubs and parachute payments but you only have to look at the fate of Middlesbrough, a similar-sized club in a similar-sized town who  also punched above their natural weight under a  generous owner for a time.

Just a season and a half after going down, their gates are down around 14,000 with little collective belief among those remaining that the good times are only temporarily on hold.

History tells you that a mediocre Rovers side playing in the second tier isn’t exactly box office.

I hear with some mild concern this week that Rovers’ accountants are the latest to sever ties with the club. The Press Officer is tipped to become the new Chairman.

As the murky tales rumble on and on via the forum and messageboard whisperers, it’s no surprise that some are walking the plank. This week’s revelation about Jerome Anderson’s son, aged 22, being signed on a pre-contract agreement, was chilling news to the more cynically-inclined.

Let’s hope The Venkys people haven’t taken a particular shine to the tannoy guy who enthusiastically announces the Man Of The Match without the slightest hint of irony each week or we may end up with him as Chief Executive Officer.

At least Diego Formica made a low-key public bow in a Reserve game but as my man on the spot reported that he looked no more ready to be unleashed on the Premiership than his 15-year-old daughter, don’t hold your breath for the “new Batistuta” yet.

Another unloved international break further punctuates the flow of the season as we have to wait two weeks to embark on the unenviable task of attempting to get anything whatsoever from Arsenal away.

The match after, Birmingham at home, is another growing in significance all the time.

But with 40 points maybe enough, may we dare to conjecture that two games against highly-placed North West rivals may be our salvation?

We are due to play Bolton smack between FA Cup Semi and Final – could the Wanderers get to Wembley and ease off the gas in time-honoured nobody-wants-to-get-injured-and-miss-the-big-one fashion?

And on the very day of the inaugural tea-time FA Cup Final itself as Premiership fixtures are idiotically staged earlier in the day , Man United are our scheduled opponents.

Far be it from me to wish success on Fergie and co but how’s this for a scenario ?– we end up playing an understrength  injury-ravaged United, who have reached both FA Cup and Champions League finals, having already clinched the title, in midweek in the final week of the season.

I’m clutching at straws of course.

Alternatively we man up and take seven points from the next three games by picking the right side, everyone doing the job they get paid to do and by showing the same fierce will to win (or at least not to be beaten) as we saw in Chris Samba’s every contorted grimace on Saturday.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s