10:17am Monday 7th April 2014
By John Light
ADY got it right. I quote extracts from his post match comments: “Disgraceful – non existent – not acceptable”. No one who saw the match at Barnet can possibly disagree.
Last week I hoped for resolve, determination and character. Wasted words! Three successive away games are tough, but full- time well paid professionals should do better than that. I saw two of those matches and feel let down. There are no excuses.
Of course the second half was better. The players were sent out early, looking shell-shocked. They had obviously been given a deserved dressing down.
There was more determination and a sublime goal was scored. Bangura – long diagonal pass, Klukowski – a beautifully timed low cross then Norwood, who scored with aplomb. Level now, Rovers looked as if they could win the game, but Barnet battled and the inevitable defensive mistake gave them a goal.
Regrettably it has to be said that watching Rovers defend ie like watching a ‘spot the deliberate mistake competition’.
Too many howlers occur and the first goal conceded certainly came in that category. As has happened too often this season an opponent had a free header from a corner.
Russell had no chance. I can see why the manager thought the height of Luke Oliver was needed, but have yet to be convinced he is the answer, his missed tackle leading to the second goal.
These three consecutive defeats consign us to the Conference for another season. Despite the dismal autumn the Pennock induced improvement had given Rovers a real play-off opportunity.
Now there is no chance of that happening planning for next season should start immediately.
There is one big question however. Will the manager have enough scope to do what is so obviously necessary? Too many players are on too long contracts. They are in a personally well paid comfort zone, and will be with us next season.
This makes better players, whose contracts end this season very vulnerable.
If the manager decides, or if he needs to clear the decks for new blood, players such as Styche, Taylor, Turley and Hodgkiss could be casualties. Existing contracts cannot be cancelled and it will be too expensive to pay many players off. This is the worst scenario of course, but it could happen.
“Never give a sucker an even break”. This is the mentality that must be instilled into our team. Ten penalties and nine sending’s off, many of which were game changing indicate how many self-inflicted wounds we have suffered.
We need to become mean, ruthless even. Remember Crawley? They gave nothing away, winning not only promotion but the same thing the next season. Nice guys do not finish first – look at Arsenal. Our team must toughen up. No more must a visit to Nailsworth be a soft touch.
The first thing needed is a captain. How many have we had this season - half a dozen perhaps? Whoever wears the arm-band, there must be more on the field leadership.
Aiming for the football league must be the aim throughout the club, and that includes us.
The strength of this club is that it has risen through the soccer ranks by achieving promotion, moving onwards and upwards. Aiming for anything less is an admission of defeat.
Financial survival will be easier in the football league and of course the entertainment level is higher. What makes me so angry this week is that a fortnight ago the play-offs were a real opportunity, but yet again we have gone down without a fight. From the chairman down we all deserve better.
A balanced view of the season will appear after the final game, as I appreciate this column, written in anger, may be anything but.
My defence is I write as a fan and if any true fan is currently anything else other than angry I suspect their loyalty. Cynicism or worse being resigned to what is happening is not the way.
I respect and value what the chairman has put into this club. Of course he has made mistakes, but he more than anyone deserves to see it moving forward. Anything else is failure. “Judge me on my team”, said Dave Hockaday. We did. Ady Pennock deserves the same chance, but it will take time.
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