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DPL v Blackpool

When we were scheduled to play Blackpool in December I thought we were faltering and that the postponement was not disadvantageous. In the event we continued our winning run and even if we had won, Blackpool would still have their 74 points, but only one game to play.

Rovers would still be unable to reach 6th, but instead of having two matches to secure the play-offs, Blackpool would have only one, but it is at home v Bristol Rovers, so although they may not need any points to do it, one would secure at least 6th and a win would ensure 5th at least.

They could just take it easy and see what comes, reasonably secure in the knowledge that not losing to Bristol Rovers should be easy. Of course this attitude is highly unlikely and I expect that they will come at us full of energy and enterprise.

So, will we match them? Perhaps not. Rovers will need to be more like last Tuesday than Saturday when they might have easily have lost.

Peter Doherty retired to Blackpool - people did in his time; I doubt whether he ever got an Award for what he did for Rovers as awards did not exactly abound in his time, but that should not be a reason for underestimating the achievement of Copps. It is for his contribution to league football and is a fitting end to his service to Rovers, not quite a one-club man like Sir Tom Finney, but nearly. Incidentally did you know that Rovers are a year older than Preston, I fact the twentieth oldest of the current English league clubs?

I don’t want to forecast a loss, so I’ll say 1-1 and Copps with the goal if he starts, otherwise Okenabirhie/Lokilo.

posted 1 week, 2 days ago

It is difficult to watch your team outplayed yet again. My attention is naturally focussed on Rovers, but when they are hardly in a contest you cannot ignore the contrast between us and them. Again, it looked as though the opposition had more players. You watch them move the ball up the field almost unchallenged and when we get the ball there would be someone contesting possession almost immediately. Blackpool, like so many other League 1 sides we have met on our slide, received the ball with time and space to comfortably dictate the direction of the game. What does this say about the training, fitness, strategy, the degree of endeavour and the basic skill? There is surely not such a gulf in ability between us and them? Even Bristol Rovers and Rochdale gave us really tough games whilst several mid table sides just cruised by us like Blackpool.

It was not until the second half that Rovers started to move into space to offer passing opportunities to team mates. Looking to the future Horton hardly managed a successful pass forwards in the entire game and with such attitude, it is difficult to see him as a useful asset at this level. If all the defenders just knocked the ball around at the back how would play progress?

Blackpool always had time and space and when we did get the ball they boxed us into often scrambling backwards when we should have been working the play up the field. Is this the result of poor coaching, inability to follow instructions, or just lack of commitment?

In the second half Rovers looked better and seemed to be more energetic, but they were still a class below their opponents. Greaves is a the only decent prospect. Wright seems to get less effectual and I’m not sure what can be said that is positive of most of the rest. Of the contracted players, Lokilo did well before he had to depart, Anderson and Butler were solid and Jones did nothing spectacular, but he failed to get anything on the shot which brought their first goal and just watched one effort pass closely by him without any attempt to move which was fortunately was blocked by Anderson I think. The point is though that he is slow to react and reaction saves are an essential part of modern goalkeeping.

The new manager will have a real challenge; he will have an absolute maximum of just a handful of players capable of achieving League 1 standard who are either already contracted or might re-sign. The prospects for next season are bleak and it will be difficult to justify keeping any of the back room staff who have either failed to inspire or are incapable of inspiring the players. It has been a dreadful finale. 6 months ago everything in the garden seemed rosy.

posted 1 week, 2 days ago

Donaldo, while I agree with most of what you say, I do not understand why you do not see anything good in Jones. You say:
"Jones did nothing spectacular, but he failed to get anything on the shot which brought their first goal"
I thought he made one or two really good saves because of a weak defence, and I'm sure with more game time his positioning and movement will get better. As far as the first goal , he was faced with a one-on-one and did get some contact that nearly prevented a goal. I sometimes wonder if I'm watching a different game - maybe it is the microseconds later we get the video in the USA.
My main problem is the Rovers seem so slow in decision making and play. Some passes have good thought behind them, but do not consider that the opponent might move to intercept, and our receiver just waits rather than trying in counter the interception.
Why were so many players so much better last Nov/Dec? - the slump started before DM left. While AB has done nothing to stop the decline, he was not the start of it. With nothing to play for, I think giving Academy Players a chance to show their worth is admirable.
Our new manager has quite a job on his hands.

posted 1 week, 2 days ago

Decent players and a good team don't become poor overnight unless something triggers it. As November and December progressed it really looked as if we would take the division by the scruff of the neck. Even after Whiteman's departure it looked as if Smith may adapt ably into his role. What happened? As Micky said, this started before DM's departure and AB has failed to stop the decline. The next manager does indeed have a big job on his hands and he's going to need the board's backing to get the right players in.

posted 1 week, 2 days ago

Micky: my emotions may have befuddled my recollections and I’m not sure I have the courage to submit to watching it again. I just cannot remember when I was last so disappointed, not with the odd player, but all except 4 or 5 of them. Incidentally one who has hardly put a foot wrong on the pitch is Butler.

Unless they get a whole troupe of loanees in again next season - which it seems will not be repeated on the recent scale - how will we sustain a place in League 1?

posted 1 week, 2 days ago

Andy Butler has absolutely no idea how to manage a football league team! His latest gem "I want my team just to play football" It's going to be starting from scratch for somebody. Possibly not such a bad idea.

posted 1 week, 2 days ago

Anyone who has managed any kind of activity can probably remember making bad mistakes and learning from them. Generally speaking, no senior manager appoints someone who is inexperienced (or not experienced at all) to an important job. Some might say that proper training is necessary. So I wonder if anyone at DRFC can work out where they went wrong in the Butler appointment?

Syd Bycroft and Jack Hodgson were put in charge at one point, probably in the 50s, with only their experience as players and didn’t last long, although I don’t think it was quite as bad as AB. Later we had Keith Kettleborough as player-manager who had come from being a regular choice for either Sheffield United or Rotherham in the first or second tier at the time and a good player, but with no managerial experience who failed. In fact none of the subsequent first time player-managers ever produced a really successful team until Billy Bremner. It is ironic that since Butler has started to play again the results have been a bit better.

I have turned rather sour in the last few weeks I admit, but I hope that I will be charitable to the new manager who, we all realise will have a very big challenge ahead. At least we can expect our Board of Directors to give him a fair chance.

posted 1 week, 2 days ago

I refer to my previous post, Don. When the board wanted to reward / test Rob Jones with a first step into management, he was positioned as joint Manager with the very experienced Brian Flynn - and given that Rob was still playing, Flynn took much of the strain - the ship was steadied after Dean Saunders' exit and we all know the result - promoted as Champions. AB has failed but given the circumstances and lack of experienced help, it was almost inevitable that he would.

posted 1 week ago

On the bright side, the new manager will have a bare canvas to start with, as we'll only have about 6 or 7 players 😀
But seriously, who would you keep? They way we've just thrown the towel in, is just embarrassing.
Some of those players should be ashamed of what they've done, I just hope it comes back to bite them in the arsenal

posted 1 week ago

Id keep Anderson, James and Taylor. I feel a bit sorry for Joe Wright. Hes not a full back but can be a good cetral defender when paired with Anderson. Not sure Id keep Halliday. Cameron John has also been dissapointing but could have more to give. Possibly give Fejiri another season. Anthony Greaves has potential. Futher than that I would quibble if they went.

posted 1 week ago

I think Lokilo has shown spirit recently and Greaves has the sort of qualities we need. Wright is a puzzling player. He can’t cope with tricky wide players, yet did begin to show that he could work the ball down the wing on occasions. When he partnered Anderson you didn’t really notice him; he did his job.

I would keep Halliday. I think James is likely to move on. Gomes is one who I suspect needs the right leadership to give him confidence and I think that the feeling of being left without an inspiring leader may have affected a lot of them.

Oke, Bogle and John are all still contracted aren’t they? We are probably also going to have to make the best of Amos and Horton and again I ask what are the plans for Ravenhill?

What do you do with Bostock? He is certainly his own man and would need a very strong manager to get the best out of him.

I’m glad I’m not the new manager; at least he can watch all the dreadful matches.

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