Penny only occasionally seems to drop for bungling Gary “Baldrick”


After throwing away the lead five times in the previous one-and-a-half matches it was perhaps inevitable that GB (General Baldrick?) would come up with a cunning plan.

Fooling the enemy with some bluff-and-bluster propaganda about bold selections which might well have duped Millwall into believing we were going to unleash our big guns, Bowyer recognised the folly of revealing his hand too early and chalking up only Pyrrhic advantage after Pyrrhic advantage.

To ensure that only blanks were fired in 78 minutes of fairly meaningless exchanges with one of the most shot-shy outfits in the Championship, what better way to keep your powder dry than to select a bloke who is set to join the like of Frank Lord, Paul McKinnon and Corrado Grabbi in the Ewood Hall of non-Scoring Centre Forward Infamy.

With one prolific striker on the field however, it was also imperative to ensure that supplies to the front were extremely limited and the manager practically ensured that the in-form Rudy Gestede would have little ammunition by selecting one of the most diminutive and least forward-moving central midfield pairings in Rovers’ history in Jay Spearing and Corry Evans.

Enthusiastic loanee Paul Taylor and industrious Craig Conway threatened to upset the plot by actually moving towards enemy lines purposefully on occasion with intent to inflict damage but largely the scheme not to take the lead before it was almost impossible to surrender it had worked perfectly up to the introduction of goal machine Jordan Rhodes and creative force Tom Cairney on 78 minutes.

Cairney got some stick for a curate’s egg of a cameo which saw him miss a chance of a quick hat-trick as well as several times greedily opting to attempt to score when a pass to a colleague might have been the better option.

But only after Cairney came on would a visitor from another galaxy exposed to soccer for the first time have realised that a central midfielder was permitted to run forwards, shoot or pass the ball otherwise than five or ten yards square or backwards.

The masterplan of course may still have failed had Millwall had a single forward capable of directing one of many decent chances they had anywhere other than hopelessly wide of the target or pitifully and tamely straight at Jason Steele.

But unlike Forest, so impressive in scoring three times at Ewood on Saturday, the Lions were toothless and had no answer when, for once, Gestede and Rhodes earned themselves and the colleagues who had helped keep a clean sheet a win bonus with two fine finishes.

Rovers’ highly-valued – Bowyer is almost relentless in talking about his own players and their enhanced value in the transfer market – pair of centre-forwards have shot themselves towards the upper echelons of the Championship scoring charts with some fine work in recent weeks but it has to be noted that the ultimate goal of promotion had already largely fizzled away.

But those querying how we can trail so far off the play-off place with 35 league goals between the pair need to note the very simple statistic that every club currently above us has scored more times than us, even Middlesbrough whose success has been largely built on defensive excellence.

I still can’t get beyond the seemingly random nature of Bowyer’s team selection. Marshall, whose horrible defensive aberration gifted Forest their third and final equaliser, is clearly uncomfortable and something of a liability at full-back.

The goalkeeping situation has been confused and not at all clarified by the manager’s inane prattling about “Easty” and “Steeley.”


I would guess that for various reasons  he would never pick that starting XI for the Millwall game again if the season had 20 matches left.

Sometimes listening to his explanations it’s feels more like you are re-running an old episode of kids’ TV show “Rainbow” although Gary would be more suited to the role of Bungle than actually presenting.

A year on I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact he picked Varney ahead of Gestede for the East  Lancashire derby – ostensibly, “to win headers” it was explained by some at the time!

Still there were some hints of encouragement for the future, hot on the heels of a brave display by a very youthful Under-21 side in their narrow Cup Final defeat at Southampton, in a composed defensive display by young Darragh Lenihan on his debut as substitute for the stricken Kilgallon.

Paul Taylor did his hopes of earning a contract no harm.

But the success of Rhodes and Gestede left most of the small – 12,000 my eye! – crowd leaving Ewood wondering how many more times we will see either play in a Rovers shirt.

It would be simply incredible if both are here come August and quite a pleasant surprise if one of them is.

There might not be that many at Ewood a week tomorrow even if it is a valedictory appearance as Rovers are horrifyingly charging Category A match prices for a game that may well yet have no bearing on where we or Ipswich finish in the table.

Huddersfield may have a few more on than usual tomorrow as they have slashed prices for home fans in all areas to a fiver, although visiting Rovers fans must pay £24.

If we are seeing some of our better players for the last couple of times finding replacements and the other natural leaders, winners and lieutenants Bowyer will need will be far from easy on frees and loans if, as seems certain, the embargo isn’t lifted.

Oh, for a Big Sam type “lucky general”!


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