Time to stand up and be counted

After Rovers lost their opening game of the season, @barryshoz82 reflects on the game and says it’s time to stand up and be counted…

Feeney v Southend
Players like Liam Feeney, who began on the bench vs Southend, will be hoping to break into the first team – starting tonight against Coventry. Photo credit: Lancashire Telegraph

All the hype, all the excitement, all the anticipation of a new season. New grounds to visit, teams we have never played before, some strong signings which all added to a growing confidence within the Rovers community that this was the start of a new era. Predictably, all sucked out of the travelling support and the thousands watching Jeff Stelling in just 30 minutes, and predictably the winning goal scored by an ex-Burnley player.

In hindsight, and I touched on this in my prediction of how the season was going to pan out (which can be found here), this is going to be tough, tougher than a lot of fans expected.

A very lack lustre start to the game at Roots Hall could be attributed to a few factors; a hang over to a poor last pre-season game; not being able to field our best defence in pre-season due to niggling injuries and constant doubt of whether Mulgrew and Lenihan would be staying; and a severe lack of challenges in whom Rovers played in the run up to the new season.

No disrespect to teams such as York, Carlisle, Morecambe, Grimsby and Barrow, but Sparta Prague is the only challenging team the Blue and Whites have faced. Compare this to Southend, who also played League 2 opposition in Cambridge, but they really tested themselves against Premier League new boys Brighton.

Rovers in their hay day used to have a very similar set up to this season, but always finished in front of their own fans with a stellar name. Only 16 years ago, Ewood Park hosted the mighty Barcelona…and won!! I think this finishing test gave them an edge they needed going into the season which was massively missing going into the first game.

A lot have under estimated the opponents that took the win on Saturday. Some of the signings that Phil Brown has made are of good quality. Kightly is a good signing for League 1, and in Anton Ferdinand they have one of the best centre halves in that division at the age of 32. Add these to a team that just missed out on the play offs to the eventual winners Millwall by one point.

So how do Rovers regroup this week? To settle any nerves, a strong team needs to be played in the Carabao Cup against Coventry, who themselves had a good 3-0 win on the opening day and are highly fancied themselves to bounce straight back into League 1. I would imagine Tony Mowbray will make a few changes but I think he will be looking for a consistent team and more crucially, a settled formation. I don’t think the manager knows what his best formation and also his best team is right now. And this is where his main players, his best players need to stand tall and grab the team by the scruff of the neck. Rovers have these players in abundance, and adding younger talented players such as Chapman, Samuel and Dack will rise to the occasion.

As much as it would be nice to get a win against Coventry, a good performance is what Mowbray will be looking for more than anything going into a tough first home game against Doncaster on Saturday. A high tempo start on Saturday is a must, as the manager needs the crowd behind them from the start to alleviate any nerves and pessimism that has set in after Saturday. Teams will come to Ewood and drop ten behind the ball, and at times it will be tough to watch, and hard to break down. But if the fans remain patient and let the manager do his job, the team will be successful this season. If the fans expect too much, expect to be 3-0 up at half time every game and start to get frustrated that we aren’t hammering teams, this may have a negative effect on the team. Remember in 2001, we only won one game in September, and sat in mid table after 10 games. A season is 46 games, and we need to take this into consideration.

If anyone took the time to listen to Phil Brown on the lead up to Saturday, he summed it up well. He knows we are favourites, he said we have the best squad and have bought well in the summer. He said we should jump straight back into the Championship. He said exactly what every manager will say this year, and this puts pressure on the team and players. Rovers are the big draw this year, so as of Saturday we need to start playing like it and lay down a marker to the rest of league. It is ours for the taking, let’s take it!!

For more articles like this, follow RoversChat on Twitter – @rovers_chat. We will post all new articles there so make sure you follow us! Make sure you follow us on all social media, details can be found here.