Never a transfer window passes without some degree of anxiety among Rovers fans over Jordan Rhodes but this one, due to close on Monday with the Ewood goal-machine hopefully still in situ, has been more trying than most.
One of my best BRFC buddies has wheeled out his stock summation: “The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing down there,” enough times down the years for me to have bought out Venkys with a fortune to spare if I’d put a quid in a jar every time he’d come out with it.
It seemed more apposite a phrase than ever this week as Hull, clearly not totally discouraged by whoever they spoke to, lodged two, possibly three bids for Rhodes with their manager Steve Bruce supremely confident of landing the player.
Somebody , or more than one body, in a position of authority at Ewood had plainly not ruled out a sale.
I heavily suspect that Gary Bowyer himself, surely desperate for cash to bring the bodies in we need to sustain any kind of serious challenge, wasn’t totally averse to sacrificing his banker top goal-getter to get his hands on a proportion of the takings and strengthen the squad as a whole.
At the time of writing, it seemed Rovers were sticking to that rather odd statement that came out on Saturday dinnertime before the Bournemouth game and ignoring all bids even if that was something of an eventual about- turn from either Bowyer, Derek Shaw or some or other of the owner triumvirate.
Bowyer yet again jetted off to India after overcoming all distractions to win that game – just – and we eagerly await what tidings he brings back, and indeed we look to assess his state of mind having possibly been over-ruled on letting Rhodes go.
Hopefully we can rely on Rhodes’ usual ratio of goals at least until January.
We will certainly need them in my view.
The unnecessarily fraught end to Saturday’s game precipitated some spectacularly polarised views as to the merits of the performance and the qualities and prospects of the team long-term.
The contrast couldn’t be more starkly illustrated than by the opinions of two of my contemporaries and fellow long-term Riversiders, both of whose knowledge I greatly value.
One said: “Well that was awful, Jim. I need to have a think about it before making too many comments but we were totally over-run in midfield.
“The substitutions were unfathomable. Marshall, excellent, off for the awful King? Dunn for Rhodes? They had kids in midfield and we still got bullied with Evans and Cairney both poor.
“Priority has to be a centre-back and a mobile central midfielder.”
Punter number two, however, whose opinion I equally respect, had this to say: “I was very impressed with Bowyer yesterday. Zonal tactics – less mobility and straying. Thought it worked well until the shocking penalty decision.
“We were mopping up their lightweight football until the ref got involved.
“We won’t play zonal against stronger sides but it was perfect tactics for tiki-taka fooball.
“Our only failing will be strength in depth but our starting XI, fully fit, should walk this league. Gary picked the team I would have and we need to keep Lowe and Williamson nowhere near that centre of midfield.”
Those of you who know my cynical airs will have guessed I’m rather more in the former camp but delighted that those less curmudgeonly than myself are seeing positive signs which I will hopefully pick up soon.
I have to confess I’ve no real idea what in heaven’s name zonal tactics are or even really what tiki-taka soccer is applied to the Championship.
As Bob Paisley used to say, you can have what formation or tactics you want but players don’t move around in perfect straight lines like little men on table football pole handles.
They can get distracted from whatever tactics they get fed with for a week within ten minutes and you’ll find a team of better players will usually have the ball more than an inferior team: the best tactic of all is don’t give it back to them as they’ll end up more knackered than you are if they have to keep chasing round without it.
For my own part, I thought we did ok, got lucky with ten minutes of defensive lunacy such as inflicted ourselves against Birmingham last Christmas, then made it, inevitably, darned hard work for ourselves by not pressing home the advantage as a team and coach which truly had belief in its collective ability and superiority would.
At the end we were hanging on again in a game which the modest opposition had no business having a sniff at.
I think we all, whatever our contrasting views, are agreed that more cover and competition for places is needed.
Manchester United’s humiliations may mean that Michael Keane, as appalling as the rest at MK Dons, does become available after all, along with a number of his colleagues I shouldn’t wonder.
We shall have to see what, if any, funds are made available and most fans hope they will not become available through the sale of Rhodes.
If ever there was a club that ought to have learned down the years that selling your best player seldom leads to a happy outcome, it’s us.
Pickering, Newton, Knighton, Shearer…..no good came of it, quite the reverse in fact.<a href=”http://www.sportnw.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/DSCF3288.jpg”><img src=”http://www.sportnw.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/DSCF3288-300×224.jpg” alt=”DSCF3288″ class=”alignright” /></a>
What’s needed is for Venkys to forget FFP for now and really back their man with the kind of paper that matters and not just with bits of press releases calculated to avert a few cat-calls.