An End Of Season Report

Sunday, 14 May 2023

Firstly, I’m genuinely surprised at the Rovers 7th place finish, particularly when a dose of reality was telling me my go to placing of 12th or thereabouts was likely. The tardiness of the appointment of a new coach and slim pickings in player recruitment did nothing to change my prediction. 

The fact that the debacle of the January transfer window further confounded any other outcome wasn’t lost on me either. I’m refraining from adding comment on that January fiasco quite simply because Rovers’ historian, Harry Berry, in a Twitter post, provided the perfect reflection and assessment.

In the end the Rovers contrived to do what you would expect the Rovers to do and that was to win the final game (as needed) only to find that a rival had won and rendered victory at the New Den irrelevant. In so doing the season-long ‘elephant in the room‘ (Rovers inferior goal difference) became the conclusive factor. The interesting thing was that, as we got to the business end of the season, I’m unsure whether it was ever factored into the equation by anyone at the club, if so, it was never mentioned officially. Which, of course, happens with elephants in a room…

As I stated in a previous end of season tweet, bad judgement and missed opportunities, both on and off the field, defined the Rovers season. It was a team lacking true quality, leadership, nous and firepower. I think for the third season running only one player was in double figures. That, in itself is an indictment.

On field leadership has been sadly lacking too. You can berate the coach all you want when things are not working on the field, but it is players who win matches not tactics. Travis was nowhere near being a captain. That must change for next season.

Tomasson, I believe, has acquitted himself well considering he is a rookie in the EFL in general and the unforgiving Championship in particular. The hand he was dealt in both transfer windows would have tested the patience of the most experienced of Coaches but in the end he fashioned something approaching a silk purse. 

He looked deflated, battered and bruised in his post match interview and you wondered whether the events of January were still weighing heavily on his mind and that a certain lack of trust was still festering. I hope I’m wrong because I think, given the resources he can fashion something positive with the addition of quality and the young emerging talent at his disposal.

The lows have been demonstrably off the field but the inconsistency on the field needs addressing. The highs have been the runs in the two cups and, on the pitch, the form of Messrs Hyam and Carter in central defence, Rankin-Costello, in whichever position he prefers, Szmodics whose movement and reading of the game is first class and the latent talent of Wharton, the younger. 

A word to the wise on young Adam – his prodigious natural talent and development needs to be carefully managed by the Club. He looks to be a level-headed young man who has time on his side and hopefully both he and the club will resist the suitors and seducers from higher up the food chain. He need only look to another proud Blackburnian, Bryan Douglas, to see and understand that you can still have your cake and eat it.

A thank you to Ben Brereton Diaz for one particularly high, octane season. I hope he goes on to fully realise his full potential in the game. One final personal hope is that Bradley Dack stays at Ewood. To recover from two career threatening injuries is great credit to the surgeons and physiotherapists but more importantly to his own determination and sheer bloody mindedness. He deserves that opportunity. His pace might have been curtailed but his footballing instincts are as sharp as ever. The club needs him, as does the dressing room but perhaps more importantly, so do the club’s youngsters.

So that is it, the sun has set on yet another season and, like everyone else, we start with a clean sheet next season.



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