Date: 31st August 2015 at 6:53pm
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For those of us reduced to trawling news pages, blogs, social media and other snippets of info starved of football before the season finally got underway who were champing at the bit for the return of football, you could be forgiven for thinking this seasons start still hasn’t happened for blackburn, a team who appear to be permanently stuck in the starting blocks unable to move, like a car with a flat battery, it turns over, but no final spark to get the motor running.

Deciding to reserve full judgement till I witnessed a game personally, unfortunately for me that meant an 8 hour drive from the south coast in pre bank holiday traffic to witness a fairly tepid, toothless, uninspiring bore draw where apart from the crowd who were superbly loud and provided a great atmosphere that’s been missing at Ewood for some time, sadly the hottest thing about the game was the Balti pies, everything else left me rather cold and wishing I had stayed home as a £320 round trip for that game was a rather bitter pill for a game that was about as entertaining as professional grass cutting.

Having been on family holiday and reduced to listening to contractually blinkered and overly biased rovers radio, some VERY limited TV highlights over the interweb and various posts/articles on each game, I had my own thoughts on where Rovers were not up and running, but i needed to see it with my own eyes, but in order to look this, we need to understand what the managers role at the club is, as there are some issues with Nice Guy Gary’s management that I would like to raise, to my mind his job would be somewhere along the following lines – pick the team for next match, educate and motivate players on the formation and discuss training / tactics to be used during coaching un preparation for game and other training session. Identify potential transfer targets for the board, train, motivate and educate his players and do his media duties.

That in a nut shell is about it, granted there have been other issues forcing his hand, the embargo, other managers publicly unsettling your players, the board selling players, but being very simplistic and high level is effectively a football managers job and I have a few issues with how nice guy Gary bravely endeavours to do that job and why i think he may have taken us as far as he is able.

I am concerned at the increasing times “luck” and bad officiating gets blamed for what appears to be poor performances on Rovers part, the team needs to stand up and grow a pair, take luck out of the equation by putting the ball in the back of the net, don’t moan after ninety minutes that one bad decision cost the game, if we had put the ball in the net any luck or decisions become rather irrelevant.

Some of the player selection is questionable at best, can someone point out to me for example how Hanley, Duffy and Raya remained in the side after making several mistakes, in several games since the start of the season, yet last years player of the year Olsson has been dropped completely for Spur, granted Tommy may give a more solid option defensively, but HUGE throw-in’s aside Marcus offers much more going forwards.

Tom Lawrence had a reasonable debut at Brighton being brought straight into the team after being signed, yet for some reason has not featured at all since, must be even more confusing for O’Sullivan left without a kick watching another young lad come straight in and go past him, god alone knows what he’s thinking other than what do i need to do to get in this team.

Despite selling big Rudy, we are a one tactic team, and if that tactic doesn’t work, lets just keep doing it as hopefully it will come right… erm no, lets not!

Nice guy Gary appears to have got stuck watching some Sam Allardyce DVD’s that haven’t sold in rovers store and now lets Raya come and take any free kicks from 10 feet inside the opposition half and back to try and pump into the box, just one problem.. we don’t actually posses a decent aerial target man now Rudy has gone, yet still we just lash it up there and hope someone gets a lucky header or it drops, its route 1 or nothing, and if that fails, just keep lobbing it in there anyway, will work eventually, perhaps when we get to League 2. Constantly banging your head against a brick wall is not necessarily the best way to knock it over, it just gives you a bigger headache, instead of persevering with something that’s clearly not working, stop banging your head against it and do something positive about trying to make it happen!

The manager also needs to pick a proper captain, not just from someone that might shine his shoes, or bring an apple into training, but someone who can actually lead and be his voice on the pitch as sadly its not Grant, he doesn’t seem to have the intelligence, attitude, drive or vocal nature needed from a captain. I once thought it may become Killa, but as he has also disappeared to the bench, Shane Duffy could be better potential captain material, his defensive performance against Bolton and he gave Lowe pelters against bolton getting robbed standing still, and his defending was very good, he is starting to play and speak like one, but he drops to deep to quickly and played people on side to often, that and his forward ball is shocking, someone tell him to keep it under 10 feet high and 20 yards and not just HOOFING it upfield and he could have some potential, but in the short term we need a leader on the pitch with some guile, experience and gravitas as there is nothing currently and its leaving a huge void.

During a period of rovers pressure against Bolton, I was sat close to the dug out watching 3-4 players constantly turn and ask for direction from Gary as to who was taking it, where to stand, whether to go up, these are supposedly experienced professionals, but it reminded me of managing a U14 team, Conway has no idea he was taking corners from both sides, Guthrie didn’t know where to stand so all had to ask nice guy Gary and Craig short, Spurr seemed not to know where/what to do.

Pick a formation and a tactic that suits the game and the team you are about to play, history shows quick counters against Brighton’s possession based passing game and they leak goals, but once again route 1 seemed to be preferred, summed up by Duffy spending the last twenty minutes having attacking heading practice – something he needs a lot more of before you throw him up there!

Could someone also provide nice guy Gary with a DVD of Jordan’s goals, as i stated in a previous article we have long since forgotten how to get the best out of Jordan, in fact since Rudy arrived really, Jordan is not a target man, nor is he a back to goal attacker – he has not the strength and if we are expecting him to hold it up whilst the midfield flood forward to help (which we never are) what are you hoping he will do with it Gary? Jordan needs the ball on the floor ideally somewhere between him and the goal for a start, I suspect he would probably settle for it alongside played into space, the lad looked clearly cheesed off getting it constantly 7 foot up, or played to his feet with back to goal and I can’t say I blame him, its not his strength or his game, but once again we keep doing it.

Gary seems to have forgotten about a few players, maybe the sudden influx he is embarrassed and can’t remember there names, Lee Williamson who of all our average defensive midfielders was a main stay last season appears to have vanished, like wise Killa, O’Sullivan, Petshi, Nyambe, Lenihan, Olsson, Akpan and Barrow have all magically vanished into the depths of Ewood park, surely they can’t all be having a poor run of form, if so why did we sign/retain some of them if they are not good enough to be playing, instead we play Lowe – who’s performance against Bolton was woeful, I would use him as right back cover and that’s it, robbed off the ball to often against Bolton, an inability to run or pass forward, Evans was little better with a similar affliction against any direction other than backwards. I could hardly believe my eyes when we had two defensive midfielders in the middle of the park, so that left the attackers woefully outnumbered, and who are all the defensive players marking, Bolton are hardly prolific scorers currently, that massive knee jerk of caution I am guessing was to guarantee we did not loose, but all it did was allow Bolton to get right up to our box before a challenge was even made, the first thing the midfield did when driven towards, was to run backwards! Hardly any challenge or block till they were on top of the box by which time it was like pinball, no wonder so many shots recently have rebounded beyond the keeper so far this season, they are all on top of the poor lad by the time they make a challenge!

Ben Marshall, the player who it appears nice guy Gary is trying to build his team around seems to be badly out of form currently, in fact I am starting to wonder if selling Ben and keeping Tom Cairney would have had more merit, performances and goal tally seem to hint so, yet game after game Ben is picked and playing poorly but bizarrely kept on the pitch hoping he is going to burst into life with a moment of magic, sadly more chance of Houdini doing that on recent performances, perhaps some time playing in the reserves whilst barrow or Koita get a start may give him the motivational kick he needs?

You could be forgiven for thinking I am being harsh on nice guy Gary, but its a results driven industry, and we are clearly not getting any results, our form is that of a team that will be in a relegation dog fight, giving the rest of the league a 4-10 point head start – not to mention the 1 goal lead we let every team – except Bolton have. I am very grateful for the “steadying the ship” job nice guy Gary has done, and his service to Blackburn should not be under estimated or terminated, he clearly did well with younger players, but sadly I am rapidly coming to the conclusion he is another good coach that cannot manage and its time a proper manager is put in place and Gary returned to the youngsters he clearly does well with, as he is not cutting it with experienced professionals.

But what about the lack of money I hear you cry, he couldn’t spend, to that i suggest you look at other clubs that have done well on poor/non existent budgets, McCarthy, Warburton, Flores all seem to have done/be doing better than nice guy Gary currently and for a manager to do well with no money, must mean they are fairly good at managing?

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