Fan’s Half-Term Report: Bristol Rovers

Managerless and floundering in the relegation zone, things haven't been easy for fans of The Gas this season. As they approach the half-way point, here's one fan's reflection on events so far.
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What’s going right? - Not a lot, but Will Hoskins has been absolutely heroic in a rudderless side and almost single handedly is taking on the opposition with scorchers against Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday and Exeter amongst others. He’s got tricks, step overs and all sorts which hasn’t been seen down the Mem since a 37 year old Wally Walters was strutting his stuff in the Quarters.

The emergence of young talent like Ben Swallow, Charlie Reece, Lamar Powell and Eliot Richards is hopefully a glimpse into a bright future and we are hugely indebted to Reading for the services of Danish goalkeeper Mikkel Andersen who is destined for bigger and better things.

What’s not? - Where do I start? We are managerless. Paul Trollope was placed on “gardening leave” just before Christmas after one bad result too many. We are in the relegation zone after an awful run of form which has seen us without a league win since mid-October. Whilst we’ve proven we can compete against some of the better sides in the league, much like England’s middle order we are prone to dramatic collapses shipping six at Hillsborough and at Oxford, and four against Southampton. We are out of all cups after humiliating defeats at Oxford and Darlo and a penalty heartbreaker against Exeter in the JPT just last week. I was dreaming of Wembley.

Got the right manager? - Our ex-manager is busy gardening. Trolls should be held in high esteem for his job at Rovers. Under his tenure (with help from that old warhorse Lennie Lawrence) we secured a promotion, had wonderful days out at Wembley and the Millennium and went on a historic FA cup run. For all of that, it was time to go. Things have been in slow decline for a year now and it needs a fresh look from a new manager so thanks for the memories Trolls.

As for a new gaffer, a lot of names have been bandied around including Maradona and Raymond Domenech but I just hope we don’t go for one of these managers who have been around the block and have been consistently mediocre (Staunton, Rosenior, Gannon et al). If Iain Dowie was available and interested I wouldn’t look any further. Or Chris Powell if Sven let us have him.

We are out of all cups after humiliating defeats at Oxford and Darlo and a penalty heartbreaker against Exeter in the JPT just last week. I was dreaming of Wembley.

Star player? - Hoskins. Probably the best striker in the league. He scores all sorts of goals and is a constant threat. Trolls’ transfer record is mixed but this was an inspired piece of business. Unfortunately, he will more than likely join that long list of Rovers strikers who will be sold to balance the books and will shine at a higher level.

Who would you like to sell in January? - We have a paper thin squad as it is so I’m not sure I would sell anyone. Blizzard wasn’t rated by Trollope and is apparently a high earner so the Board may decide to move him on.

Who do you want to sign? - The nucleus of the team is actually not terrible. We need more depth. I would look at a more nimble centre back and a centre forward who can impose himself on defenders for Hoskins to play off. Adam le Fondre at Rochdale is a bit out of our league. Freddy Eastwood doesn’t necessarily fit the target man bill but could be available and would be a cut above League One. Wouldn’t mind getting Mark Wright back from his loan; he’s been the best player in League Two and his pace and goals would come in handy.

Best chant so far? - “Jump in a Minute, You’re Gonna Jump in a Minute” aimed at John Akinde. I like the bloke and he might turn into a very good player but there is nothing more frustrating than seeing an absolute unit like him staying rooted to the ground at all times. And no, he doesn’t particularly have good feet for a big man.

Best opposition player/team you’ve see? - George Boyd and Grant McCann at Posh looked class on the first day of the season but that might have been a flash in the pan. Jennings at Tranmere could have a very big future.

We’ve been thumped a few times but Sheffield Wednesday were rampant against us and although a bit dodgy defensively, with Milan’s millions I would be surprised if they don’t go up.

Biggest **** of the season so far? - Lee Clark claiming we were the worst side they had played all season after we deservedly beat them stunk of Bumble’s “we flippin’ murdered them” comment when England drew with Zimbabwe. Also, Wednesday fans were arrogant tossers.

Any other news? - We still haven’t got a new stadium. The pasties and programme at the Mem continue to be the best in the league.

End of season prediction? - Dream Team of Maradona and Les Reed take over to fire Rovers to mid-table glory. More likely the caretaker Darren Patterson will get the nod and we will just about survive.The squad is more than capable of staying well clear of a relegation battle but the key will be how quickly the new boss can settle in.

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