Venomously despised absentee owners with no intention of budging who’ve piled up an Everest of debt to leave fans seething, some never to return, as the soul of the famous old colours is sold to the devil.January transfer window activity so minimal and lame you know it will make no difference as the club faces one of its poorest seasons and finishing positions in the memory of most young supporters.Players who wouldn’t have been given house room at the club ten years ago and a manager whose glory years are a distant memory who comes over as a desperate old fool every time he opens his mouth.The sticking plaster of a routine cup win over a vastly-inferior bunch of neighbours from a lower division managed by a familiar old face...But enough about FA Cup fifth-round opponents Manchester United and their problems, what an exciting week it’s been for us Rovers fans eh?Okay, not really.The underwhelming denouement to Rovers’ January window was nothing if not entirely typical and predictable.Sell the sulky, disinterested and repeatedly under-performing Ben Marshall (he cleared his belongings from Brockhall and said his farewells the first day in after the Ipswich defeat and infamous subsequent interview) at the nearest point possible to the eleventh hour for whatever remains on the table then fanny about getting a loan over the line for a bloke whose last two games for Celtic were unsuccessful European qualifiers in July, one of them a defeat to the mighty force that is Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps.“Is he trying to get himself sacked?” asked a Celtic fan pal of Coyle, without realising that if he was, he’s been having a darned good go at it since June. It’s not that easy an undertaking here, I informed him.I don’t wholly blame the non-event of the window on Coyle however.If you were to design a character the largely working-class folk who follow Rovers might fail to take an instant liking to, Director of Football Paul Senior wouldn’t be that far from the prototype.Jabbering away sharp-suited in a generic Southern accent with his corporate gobbledegook middle management self-development course psychobabble, telling supporters who have frankly witnessed one deadline day panic after another that he is planning: “two, maybe three windows ahead,” and hoping to “add value” to an utterly threadbare squad which now cost a total of about £1.25m was guaranteed to raise the hackles.Here’s the deal – In “three transfer windows ahead” Rovers could theoretically be about to begin a season in any one of three (four if you want to be unrealistically pedantic) divisions of the English professional football structure so telling us that we’re planning three ahead when we’ve pretty much made an unholy mess of the current one and the last few is an insult.Even the twin signings of Lucas Joao and Emnes, neither totally unattractive in themselves, told a sorry story of a communication breakdown or failure between manager and director to co-ordinate strategy and prioritise. We’ve basically signed the same player twice, one Coyle’s pick, the other Senior’s.What’s the betting both spend more time on the bench than off it in any case?If the best imaginable scenario was a tumultuous falling-out between the pair resulting in Coyle’s departure it’s probably coming too late now to make any difference.Anyone hoping for succour from the fact that he might get Coyle shunted out will hardly be encouraged by the fact that the last two managers he worked with before the current Wednesday gaffer rendered him surplus to requirements were Stuart Gray and Dave Jones. Mercifully Brian Laws was, I think, just before his time at Hillsborough but if you think it can’t get worse, don’t be too sure.The glaring lack of a midfield bossman has again been ignored whoever’s pulling who’s string and with Henley injured and damaged by loss of form we must be the only club in the pyramid down to local combination level which seeks to function without an accredited right back of at least some experience.One hopes Nyambe emerges as the player we once hoped Henley might become but with a bilious section of our support so embittered by failure that they now dish out to struggling kids the poisonous level of vitriol they once lavished on the cruising likes of Per Frandsen, Keith Andrews and Danny Murphy, the environment is not conducive to nurturing fledgling talents.If Senior couldn’t identify vacancies at right back, central midfield and goalkeeper after a month here lord knows what his fabled vision of the future is.I had my own January deadline to get this column off after the window shut and before the Leeds game. By the time you read this you’ll know how that went.Given the results earlier in the week one fears that defeat will have left us stranded, a draw only slightly less so, or an unlikely win kept us in the pack, rapidly dwindling and becoming isolated from what’s now an identifiable lower-table almost-safety region.There was nothing in the workaday, routine cup win over woeful Blackpool to offer much hope that the winning habit in the cup is about to be transferred to bread and butter competition.When an unaccompanied Bennett is popping (admittedly super) goals in from 35 yards and Lowe and Akpan stroll around looking comfortable in possession you know a certain intensity is missing.“It was like a training game, in my day, someone would have just smashed somebody after a bit to liven it up,” said the excellent Super Atko somewhat unceremonially on local radio and you knew what he meant.It was tame,stuff indeed and even the feeble protests looked daft as “Operation Empty Ewood” inarguably resulted in a gate probably considerably better than we’ve had for many league games.The demonstrating Blackpool fans, who our few dozen marchers were clearly outnumbered by three to one, were themselves made to look wholly diminished by an away following which would in itself have constituted a decent home portion of a gate at Bloomfield.I’m not sure what the particular empathy with Tangerines fan is all about. They were kicking around the lower leagues for years with no bugger interested. I was on one game there when they had to apply for re-election in the 1980’s, I can’t remember much goodwill from our lot towards them at that point.Now that things aren’t going too well for us we suddenly want to be every struggling club’s best friends? what’s that all about?The sorriest sight was the miserably failed attempt to disrupt the game with a hail of tennis balls. I counted three on the pitch out of hundreds and it took five seconds to clear them, less than it would need to shift a stray dog turd on White Ash.What a fitting metaphor to crystallise a series of puny, copycat, unachievable, ineffective “initiatives” by a number of groups with no charisma, leadership or invention, many continuing to put out their mixed-messages more befitting of Operation Ewood Emptyheads by being unable to agree what to do when the attractive Fifth Round tie goes on sale!I presume a good number of those sorry wretches outside on Saturday chanting about the FA, advising them to insert the famous old trophy where the sun don’t shine, will be happy to contribute their 30 quid or whatever admission fee to disappear up the same fundament in a fortnight.But with plenty of league games before that, and no game looks easy when you’re in our predicament, who’s coming and who’s not coming to watch Rovers play Man United is the least of our worries.Even rivals we half-fancied catching or passing strengthened significantly in the closing days of the month and it will now be a mini-miracle if in August we aren’t hosting our first third tier game since a celebratory Saturday in May 1980 when Howard Kendall’s boys could afford to lose to Bury without dampening the celebrations.Nobody ever talked about “adding value” to that collection of cheapies, freebies, frees and misfits but we knew from their stirring deeds that their worth bore no relation to their cost.
Oh for a silk purse from sow’s ear of a manager such as that!