Rovers and Rangers continue in mirror image – Interview
Thursday, 28th Jul 2022 15:48 by Clive Whittingham
This my neighbour Ian Herbert, he is pain in my asshole: my team suffers New Year collapse, his team suffers New Year collapse; my team bins long-serving manager, his team bins long-serving manager; my team make four summer signings, his team cannot afford – great success.
A very Moany Towbray season in the end, mirroring our own play for play, how was it for you?
Sadly all too predictable. Why, when we kept renting the same movie did we expect the ending to change? A director’s cut?
I doubt we’ll have as good a chance to break into the play-offs for quite some time. Up until the January window our course was set fair; some surprisingly positive results served to re-charge the optimism batteries only for the lack of new faces to cost us dear.
The Ben Brereton-Diaz injury at West Brom effectively ended our season as our attack paid their own tribute to the late comedy genius Ronnie Barker, by transforming from being tough and ruthless to rough and toothless.
It’s the summer to replace leaders who split the loyalty of their followers down the middle and end up generating in-fighting across their base. Rovers are nothing if not trend setters.
Unlike Johnson, Mowbray had not managed to win enough key victories in red wall marginals to secure another term. Neither was he caught in his office being pleasured by Mark Venus though so there is that.
His time was up, but my word, it’s quite the poisoned chalice that is being left behind but that is more down to his superiors and ultimately the owners.
What do you make of the replacement?
Saying all the right things, making all the right moves but he’s been given a squad that has lost half a dozen of last season’s 1st XI and at time of writing there are no signs of any incoming talent to bed in. Poor bugger is already starting to look puzzled at press conferences.
He has a decent track record but I fear that Rovers might turn out to be the chapter in his autobiography where he explains how he learned an awful lot and wouldn’t therefore make the same mistakes when choosing his next job.
All outgoings and few incomings so far, what needs to be done this window?
A lot. We have a conveyor belt of promising youngsters but they really need to be the icing on the cake as opposed to the sponge base.
It looks like the funding taps have been turned off and unless we can secure a substantial fee for BBD then inbound traffic may be thin on the ground.
Either way, we are handicapping the new boss by not providing the tools to do the job and even if four or five come in on deadline day, we will by then have played a number of games and quite possibly shaped the tenor of our season by September.
We need at least two defenders, a midfielder and if Ben departs, a striker.
It’s beginning to take on the demeanour of a careless husband buying the family Christmas presents at the last service station on the way home on Christmas Eve.
Ins >>> Ethan Walker-Hernandez, 19, LW, PNE, Free >>> Callum Brittain-Gonzalez, 24, RB, Barnsley, Undisclosed
Outs >>> Joe Rothwell-Munoz, 27, CM, Bournemouth, Free >>> Darragh Lenihan-Morales, 28, CB, Boro, Free >>> Ryan Nyambe-Rodriguez, 24, RB, Wigan, Free >>> Harry Chapman-Fuentes, 24, RW, Bradford, Free >>> Bradley Johnson-Lopes, 34, CM, Free, MK Dons >>> Antonis Stergiakes-Espinoza, 23, GK, Panetolikos (Greece), Free >>> Jacob Davenport-Gutierrez, 23, DM, Released
How has pre-season gone?
We’ve played friendlies against a range of opposition but only the one away at Celtic could really be described as something approximating a serious challenge. In the context, a 2-2 draw is probably a decent result but anyone reading too much into any pre-season result, in any context, is juggling with chainsaws - entertaining but potentially quite dangerous.
I’ve seen a couple - Accrington Stanley and Lincoln City - the latter allowing us a glimpse of our only cash signing to date, Callum Brittain. Yeah, we’ve done the “Brittain’s Got Talent” thing to death already…
Khadra gone elsewhere now as well, how big a blow?
Not really a blow at all as nobody really expected him to return & if we were to have a former Brighton loanee returning this season then Jan Paul Van Hecke would be the unanimous choice of every single Rovers fan. Khadra is a skilful, tricky, pacy winger but he’s also inconsistent, frustrating and more easily replaced in our likely formation this season.
Latest transfer rumours?
On the http://BRFCS.com forum, our Transfer Thread now stretches to 361 pages and we have but two signings to show for it - only one of those costing any actual money. We have to “trust the process” I guess, at least whilst the new head of recruitment is serving his notice period with the Welsh FA. The new director of football really needs to dig deep into his contact list and plug the obvious gaps in defence, midfield and attack.
Rumours of JPVH returning, Callum Styles from Barnsley, Josh Bowler from Blackpool and Tyler Morton from Liverpool account for large chunks of the 361 pages. So far…unrequited.
How do we expect Rovers to line up this weekend?
We’ve tried 3, 4 & 5 at the back at various points in pre-season. We ended last Saturday in a sort of “is it 4-3-3, 4-5-1 or 4-4-1-1 ?”. I was there and swore we played three at the back in the first half only to be corrected by others who swore we started with four so…you’re possibly asking the wrong guy.
I’d expect Kaminski to be in goal, Ayala, Wharton, Brittain to be in defence; the law firm of Travis, Buckley in midfield; Diaz and Gallagher up front - that’s eight…so pick a left back from Pickering or Edun; probably add Hedges in there somewhere and…oh what the hell…let’s say Markanday.
How do you see this season going?
Based on the squad at time of writing - it’s going to be tough. A couple of injuries to the wrong players and we’ll be fielding a team worthy of a crèche. Rabbits need to be extracted from hats…quickly. Let’s keep the faith till the window closes but…
The Twitter @ianherbert, @loftforwords
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The U'sual Ramblings #3 by wessex_exile
The U’sual Ramblings #3 comes on the back of an imperious victory at Portman Road, our first there since 13th October 1951, when Jimmy Allen’s U’s won 2-0 courtesy of second half goals from Vic Keeble and Fred Cutting in front of 19,275. This was back in the old Division Three South days, and the U’s would finish the season 10th, with our Suffolk neighbours down in lowly 17th place. Needless to say, some of the gloss of Tuesday’s backs to the wall defensive masterclass was tarnished by the behaviour of a mindless minority in the away end, though the CUFC Police twitter account has since confirmed these were not regular day in day out supporters of Colchester United. Let’s hope investigations identify the culprits, and that they never darken our doorstep again. Our reward is a second round home tie against Premier League Brentford, and whilst it won’t be on the TV, assuming Brentford sell out their 2,000 allocation, it should be a decent crowd and an excellent atmosphere at the JobServe.
The U'sual Ramblings #2 by wessex_exile
The U’sual Ramblings #2, and the U’s first home match of the season. Much has been written on our narrow defeat away at Northampton Town last Saturday, not least that if they are the yard-stick for promotion contenders, we can take plenty of credit (and hope) from most of our performance, which really should have earned a point. However, we’ve seen these false dawns before – remember away at Notts County, and at Bradford, in recent years, where we thought we were playing contenders, and they turned out to be whipping boys for most of the season. Still, I don’t expect that of Northampton, so stout hearts faithful…and wasn’t it great seeing Nouble bombing down the wing doing what he does best again!
The U'sual Rambling #1 by wessex_exile
Here we go folks, are we ready for another rollercoaster of joy and dismay? Right now, I’ll probably take an even mix of both if it guarantees a solid midtable finish, but why stop at that. I agree with Durham in his excellent match review, given how well we finished the second half of the season, ignore the bookies perennial struggler tag – we can do this! For the new season, the blog has slightly metamorphosed into The U’sual Rambling, though largely the same format as last season, albeit perhaps less labour-intensive in content. In my case, pertinent for Saturday given I am missing the opener at Sixfields to dog-sit the beautiful (and high maintenance, super ridiculous, energetic etc.) border collie Reggie.
When Monday Comes #37 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and we reach the end of a topsy-turvy season, much of which hasn’t been that much fun if I’m honest, though latterly considerably improved under Wayne Brown. If I can, I always like to do the first and last game of the season, but sadly a trip to Hartlepool just wasn’t on the cards, not if I actually wanted to get home again tonight, so I had to console myself with a pretty enjoyable trip to the JobServe last weekend – not quite the victory the U’s deserved over Walsall, but a great day out anyway. I know it’ll be too late for the Player of the Year awards, but wouldn’t it be nice to see a Freddie Sears hat-trick this afternoon to round off the season.
When Saturday Comes #36 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes tomorrow, and I will be on a train heading over to God’s own county for my last U’s game of the season. That should have been last Friday’s trip to the Principality, but as posted elsewhere I was more than happy to be pre-booked to dog-sit Emma’s collie Reggie that night and had to be content with one of Nadine’s ‘downstreams’ on iFollow. Given both the performance and the result, whilst I was sorry to miss it in person, I was more than happy with how Friday night turned out in the end. Tomorrow will be a gathering of the clans for us, with at the last count at least 8, possibly more, of the family gathering for the match. Ironically, I’ll see them all again on Bank Holiday Monday for a family birthday, but I’ll be driving over for that one.
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