Following a brief break from writing content Rob Johnson returns for the first DRSG match review for a Rovers away game this season:
- First the officials. Cedric Evina tumbled theatrically in the Gillingham box but there is no denying he was clearly fouled. The referee was swayed by Gillingham’s home supporters time and again and it is hard not to believe the penalty would have been given had that been one of the home players going down. Footage of the Gills ‘goal’ has proven inconclusive which suggests that the linesman couldn’t be absolutely certain the whole of the ball had crossed the whole the line from his vantage point which makes his decision to award a goal both inexplicable and incredibly harsh on Rovers.
- Despite a lack of good fortune with the officials, this was still yet another poor performance from Rovers. Gobern and Chaplow were time and again overran in the centre of the park and Chaplow in particular gave the ball away on numerous occasions. The defence, midfield and attack had no link up play and seemed to be playing as three separate units. The Gillingham goal was fortunate but inevitable.
- Unfortunately Paul Dickov has made so many excuses over the last two seasons that he has become the boy who cried wolf. Justified or not Rovers fans are becoming tired of Dickov’s excuses and that was expressed at the final whistle. More on that later.
- Rovers currently have a team of journeymen, youth players, crocks and stop gaps. Can anyone really see Gobern, N’Guessan, Chaplow, Mackenzie, Main, Lund or Taylor-Sinclair becoming settled first team players to build a team around in the next few years? Will Keegan, Tyson or Rob Jones overcome their constant injury problems at the ages of 31, 33 and 35 respectively? It seems unlikely. With Copps also 34, Wellens on his way out and better clubs surely to come looking at Williams and Forrester should our form not improve before January, this already looks like a squad that needs a complete overhaul only 6 games into the season.
- Last season Rovers actually came from behind to win on 5 separate occasions. It is troubling then that since our form collapsed in March rovers look dead and buried every time they go behind. There is a feeling that a lot of players are going through the motions. There is no desire, no team spirit and no passion.
- That said however, 6 games is early and of course Dickov may turn it round. However he has shown in the past that when Rovers stop winning he doesn’t have an answer, with only talismanic striker Billy Sharp’s surprise return to the club temporarily stopping the rot during our relegation season. Rovers have won 4 of their last 22 in the league. This is relegation form and if we do slip into the bottom four does this squad have the talent or more importantly the fight to claw their way out while ever Dickov remains in charge?
- We will now see how much Bramall and Watson actually care about Rovers. The fans turned on Dickov en masse at the final whistle with anti Dickov chanting that started before the final whistle reaching fever pitch with a tirade of abuse as he went down the tunnel. Rovers now have a vital home game against Oldham sandwiched by tough away games at Walsall and Sheffield United. Lose all three and Dickov will face constant abuse from the stands. It is easy to see Rovers entering into a similar situation as Newcastle and Blackburn fans found themselves in recent years, as the owners watch their side get relegated whilst stubbornly refusing to sack the manager.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Cedric Evina – Tough to pick any winners following that performance but Evina was bright and confident before being withdrawn on 70 minutes despite being our best outfield player. Should have won a penalty and is currently earning his place on the team sheet further forward.
Thorsten Stuckmann – Yet another man of the match performance from Stuckmann who is currently single handedly preventing Rovers from conceding 3 or 4 every week.
Mitchell Lund – One has to feel for Lund as it is Dickov’s fault that an actual right back has still mystifyingly not been signed. The young right back is clearly out of his depth. His first touch was awful, he turned his back on the ball and passed it back to Stuckmann or sideways to Mackenzie at every opportunity. The longer he continues to start at right back the more likely it is the opposition will target him. One of the first remits of being a manager is having at least one senior player for every position. Dickov has failed in this remit this season and Lund’s confidence has paid the price.
James Coppinger & Andy Williams – Copps is still our most creative player as shown by his glorious link up with Andy Williams for Curtis Main’s latest big chance in the first half. This was a mirror image of the second goal against Fleetwood and shows the potential of Copps and Williams in the same team. Aside from this incident however Copps was on his own as an attacking threat down the right hand side with Lund rarely venturing beyond the half way line. Time and again Copps found himself in space, only for Chaplow or Gobern to lose the ball. Williams too cut a frustrated figure who found himself isolated every time he had the ball. Williams has looked quality this season and has ran himself into the ground but how long will this continue while ever he lacks support.
Curtis Main – The unfortunate thing for young Curtis is when he gets something wrong he gets it really wrong so despite showing some neat and tidy touches and constantly getting into good positions all you remember is the woeful wayward passes and the missed chances. Main had Rovers best chance in the first half but once again it went begging. Despite his talent Main is just not good enough (yet) to be leading the line for a league one team.
Paul Dickov – The crowd’s reaction at the end and constant barrage of abuse on social media can no longer be ignored. In the last few months alone Furman, Wabara and Wellens have made it clear they no longer want to play for Dickov whilst others have shown this through their performances on the pitch. Dickov has held us back the last two years but now there are worrying signs that he is actually making us worse. What possible reason could there be to stick with him now?
Man of the Match – Thorsten Stuckmann. This is getting embarrassing.