A Review Of Rovers Season So Far

Wednesday, 27 December 2023

*Zack is a college student in Blackburn, with aspirations to go to university to study journalism.  He will be offering up content to BRFCS who will coach/mentor him in order to help him to build his portfolio. 

This is his first article…it was written before the Watford & Huddersfield games!


With Christmas rapidly approaching and with it, the half-way point of the Championship on the horizon - what better time to assess Rovers performance so far this season ?

Do they need a refresh? Does Jon Dahl Tomasson need some New Year’s resolutions? Are they weak at the back? 

I went out to talk to the fans about their opinion of the Blackburn Rovers 2023/24 campaign up to now.

View from the Jack Walker Stand - upper


Rovers’ attacking abilities have been greatly praised this season. 

“The best football I’ve seen in a while” said one fan, “it's just great to watch, attacking-wise, fluid and everything...and Sammie, well, I don’t need to say anymore!”. 

You’re right, we all know how good he is (Championship's top goalscorer- 14 and counting). With two delightful chips added to his tally against Birmingham and another goal against the Owls recently, he is certainly in fine form. With a new contract taking him through to 2026, many believe the forward will be one of the main drivers to success for Blackburn.     

However, it is crucial that they do not become too reliant on Szmodics. Already a lengthy injury list is building up at Ewood and with this, comes more game time for the remaining players. An injury to the top goal-scorer now would leave a notable gap, in the Rovers starting XI. 

One fan highlighted that Rovers being heavily dependent upon specific players is nothing new; 

“We’ve been reliant on one scorer for a while now, just look at Armstrong and then Ben Brereton-Diaz”. 

The manager has been praised by the opposition for his team's often compelling style of play. However, we can't sweep Rovers’ problems under the rug. Good-looking football doesn't necessarily win games.

“We just can't seem to hold on, we seem to be lacking in that final part a lot”, said one fan, despairingly describing his trauma from the Preston game. 

Despite the second-half success of the recent ‘baltic’ Brummy fixture, it's clear the fellow Roverite has a point, looking at some other recent Rovers encounters.  An early goal for Wednesday was undoubtedly followed by a sigh from the fellow away fans. I can only imagine the further sighs, shouts and a few bad words too, after the controversial decision to send the Rovers manager off and late goals by winger, Marvin Johnson and attacker, Josh Windass, to make the game 3-1 to Sheffield Wednesday. 

The concession of late goals has been an issue for Rovers all season; Ipswich Town (79’), Preston (90’) and Hull City (81’ & 88’) to name a few, have cost them a decent haul of points. 

“Just not 100%”, “leaving a little to be desired”, “bloody ****” ( harsh) and “a contrast to last season” were just some descriptions of the blue and white’s defence offered to me by fans. 

Rovers have only maintained a clean sheet in 10% of home games this season. (source @footystats.org)

Although it's safe to say Rovers back-line seems to be a little disjointed at times, let's not forget about the whole team’s injury problems throughout the campaign too. 

All Rovers injuries this season: (source @besoccer.com)

Sam Barnes 

Hayden Carter 

Tyrhys Dolan

Niall Ennis 

Sam Gallagher 

Ryan Hedges

Dom Hyam 

Harry Leonard 

Aynsley Pears 

Harry Pickering 

Joe Rankin-Costello 

Arnor Sigurósson

Sammie Szmodics

Lewis Travis 

Adam Wharton 


Another point raised by many was stylistic - the insistence in playing out from the back. 

Although a short goal-kick allows a controlled and rehearsed build-up play; quick 1-2’s (tiki-taka as it’s often disparagingly referenced), sometimes this can lead to simple and fatal mistakes. 

On the odd occasion, would it be useful to go old-fashioned and lump it up to the biggest bloke on the pitch? This was cited perfectly by one fan;

“I understand it is the playing style of the team and that it’s often brilliant to watch, but there are times when you just have to go long with the ball instead of mucking around at the back”. 

Rovers captain, Lewis Travis, has been a great asset all season. One fan declared

“He’s a player that isn't afraid to get stuck in”. 

As former manager, Tony Mowbray, said “He’d kick his own granny in a five-a-side game”. (source @www.lancs.live)                                                                           

With a decent heap of yellow cards this season, it's safe to say the defensive midfielder isn’t scared to ‘leave one in’ on his opponents. Jokes aside, Travis has developed as a leader and all-round player too. 

One fan remarked, “It's clear his attacking capabilities have improved under Tomasson''. Throughout the season we have seen the captain’s positions develop all over the pitch. 

Following the Leeds United game, Rovers fans didn’t seem overly frustrated with the end result. There was a decent improvement from the first to second half, yet not enough to find the back of the net. Rovers just edged The Whites on possession but couldn’t seem to find a rhythm in the opposition’s half. 

“We competed well, just didn’t create much” one fan told me. 

Rovers beat Leeds United in all but one passing statistic in the 2nd half (source@ FotMob) but the key statistic in any football match is the scoreline.

It’s clear that there is a great deal of talent in this Rovers team and hopefully with players returning from injury, paired with a successful transfer window they can have an outstanding second half to the season. Not only to show their true abilities, but also to confound those who doubted them after the summer-departure of key players. 

Have a great New Year Rovers Fans..!


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