To begin our countdown to the new season, which starts in 12 days – RoversChat will be looking at the teams that Rovers will be facing in the 2017/18 season. The second of two teams we will look at today is Bristol Rovers…
Name: Bristol Rovers
Manager: Darrell Clarke
Ground Name: Memorial Ground
Capacity: 12,296 (3000 seating)
Nickname: The Pirates/The Gas
Star Player: Ollie Clarke
Players In: Liam Sercombe, Adam Smith, Sam Slocombe, Tom Nichols, Marc Bola , Rollin Menayese
Players Out: Bob Harris, Dominic Thomas, Will Puddy, Jermaine Easter, Danny Greenslade, Steve Mildenhall, Lee Mansell, Jamie Lucas, Christian Montano, Jake Gosling, Peter Hartley
Highly sought after manager Darrell Clarke lead the Pirates to a respectable 10th place finish with 66 points, their highest finish since 1999-2000. At one point they were pushing for a place in the play offs, but tailed off towards the end of the season. This was mainly due to the controversial sale of Matty Taylor to rivals Bristol City in the January transfer window, with Taylor becoming the first player to move across Bristol in 30 years.
Previous to this Clarke led Rovers to back to back promotions, taking them via the playoffs from the National League, and then securing automatic promotion in 3rd position in League 2 the year after. This was dramatic on the last day of the season, secured with a 92nd minute goal against Dagenham & Redbridge, meaning Accrington Stanley missed out.
Losing Matty Taylor put pressure on the search for goals as he scored 18 goals before departing in January. Billy Boden was the only other player in double figures. Ellis Harrison and new signing Tom Nichols from Peterborough will be expected to fill the void of Taylor.
The manager is highly respected within the lower league level, having turned down jobs at higher level clubs to continue his project at the Gas. With a small budget, Clarke has tried to bring in youthful players to galvanise the squad.
Unless they recruit well in the loan market, they will struggle for goals, and the tail off towards the end of the season proved this. I don’t expect Rovers to push the higher end of the league, but neither would I expect them to be at the bottom. I think everyone at the Memorial Ground would be happy with another 10th place finish, and flirting with the play offs is the best they can hope for.
For more articles like this, follow us on Twitter – @rovers_chat – to receive the new articles first!