Heading in the right direction?

Despite having no league games, this week has been a busy week at Blackburn Rovers.

This week saw Rovers lose to Bury in the Checkatrade Trophy, the bi-annual Supporters’ Consultation Meeting, both Tony Mowbray and Richie Smallwood miss out on manager/player of the month respectively and Elliot Bennett sign a contract extension until 2020 – a pretty busy week for a Third Division club during yet another self-enforced ‘international break’.

Bury in the Checkatrade Trophy

At the full time whistle against Bury, Rovers had 9 players on the pitch who were 21 or under (Joe Rankin Costello and Stefan Mols making their first team debut) along with the hapless Ben Gladwin and Peter Whittingham – who I’m yet to see have a good game at any level or in any competition for Rovers.

Yet, however, that didn’t cross the mind of a clueless few who decided the best form of ‘support’ was to moan and whinge at every mis-placed pass or wasted opportunity.

A first trip to the ‘new’ Wembley (open for ten years now) watching Rovers seemed in the final seemed a long, long way away as families poured out before the final whistle on what was overall a disappointing night, which was only compounded by the comments of Mowbray after the match, which included:

“I have to take some responsibility, throwing a team together without doing any work on it.  They looked as if they didn’t have any direction of where to go or how to play.

Many of the lads haven’t played very much this year and then some of boys from the Under-23s, so it looked a very disjointed performance. 

We struggled to play forwards, we struggled to create anything, it was really poor, it was disappointing.  Individually there was a lot of quality out there, a lot of footballers who should have damaged Bury more than they did. But it was an insipid performance, no threat, no goal threat or urgency.  I expect better and I hope they do. The players know my thoughts and we move on.”

The defeat leaves Rovers second in the group and a win at Rochdale next month in the last of the round robin matches, either in 90 minutes or on penalties, will see us progress to the knockout stage of the competition.

Nominations galore

This week saw Tony Mowbray and Richie Smallwood nominated for manager and player of the month respectively and although neither won it, I’m genuinely struggling to remember the last time the club was nominated for such an award – such has been the utter dross served up season after season for the past 7 or 8 years.

Let’s hope a few more nominations are given during the course of what will hopefully be a successful season and promotion back the Championship.

Bennett’s delight at a new deal

Thursday saw the announcement that Elliot Bennett had signed a new two year contract which will see him extend his stay at the club until the summer of 2020.

The news seemed to be generally welcomed by fans and, although not the most naturally gifted player, he: is popular, can play in a number of positions, is experienced and from time to time pops up with some cracking goals as illustrated in the club’s ‘Goal of the Season’ competition at the end of last season.

Crumbling Cheston and Magnificent Mowbray

Thursday also saw the twice yearly and grandly titled “Supporters’ Consultation Meeting.”

Although my invite got lost in the post, you could still get a good feel for how the meeting went thanks to updates on social media. For anybody who doesn’t know the format of the meeting, fans from various physical and online supporters groups (including this page) attend the meeting along with some fans, selected by the club, with questions (which are sent in prior to the meeting and the club deciding which they want to answer) asked, answered and discussed.

No doubt the Lancashire Telegraph will drip feed articles out over the coming days from the meeting, however here Mike Cheston talks about running the club on a day to day basis.  You can also listen to edited highlights which were broadcast on BBC Radio Lancashire the day after (Friday, 6th October) and I’m sure at some point the highlights will appear on the club Fans’ Forum page, where the BBC Radio Lancashire highlights from previous meetings along with minutes from previous fans’ forum meetings can be found.

Summary and the week ahead

With no game this week due to Rovers opting not to play Blackpool, we now have two games in hand on the other teams in the league, both of which will be played by the end of November in what is going to be a busy and expensive period for those who follow the team away.

There’s 5 games at Ewood and away days at Oldham, Wigan, Rochdale (Checkatrade Trophy), Bury, Oxford and the re-arranged trip to Blackpool.  I’m sure Mowbray has his points target, although anything between 20-25 points should see us pushing for the top 2 where a lot of fans will be expecting us to finish.

As I type this, Rovers are in the top 6, England have qualified for the World Cup in Russia next year and generally everything (for now at least) seems to be heading in the right direction.

Onto Oldham away.