Bristol Rovers v Crawley 2nd April 2016

Firstly, and I’ll keep the Oscar speech to a minimum; thank you all for your comments on the start of the new blog last week. I never expected the feedback I got and among the emails, comments and private messages I got I certainly wasn’t expecting a friendly and pleasant call from Thailand, one that I should confess that I enjoyed immensely. I wasn’t sure that anyone would actually read this dirge, so thank you and I am now painfully aware that I need to raise my game.

If only the team felt that way eh…?Sadly another limp away performance was not what the doctor ordered, and whilst the result may not have worried Mark Yates, nor if we’re honest did it worry most of the fans, it’s certainly not pleasing. Nor is it particularly satisfying for the 99 Reds fans that made the effort to travel to Bristol to see such a lackluster display.

Whilst we’re still not mathematically safe, there’s potentially only one game now before that’s confirmed (let’s hope we’re not still saying that when Barnet visit us on the last day of the season). I understand that the motivation may have gone out of the team a bit now, but the fact that 99 fans were still willing to make the journey to Bristol, a team well and truly on the up this season, tells me at least that there’s still some motivation on the terraces and if we still want that to be the case when next season kicks off then we need to do something about it now. This dip in passion and commitment as well as form is hardly going to have the fans flocking to the stadium to pick up their season tickets next year at the moment.

Nobody yet knows what next season will bring. I’m sure and I hope that we’ll see a significant change in playing personnel, (I’m even willing to pay for Gavin Tomlin’s taxi out of Crawley myself) but my personal preference would not be to lose Mark Yates. As I’ve stated before, I think he’s done a good job this season steadying the ship, but he’s making it increasingly difficult to defend him in the last few games of the season. As well as for his managerial ability, I want Mark here next year because I like his personality and I think he’s got something the club can use and work with to help engender better fan engagement. To do this though he needs to introduce a dose of honesty in to his post-match interviews. Don’t make the mistake of some of the previous board by thinking that all fans are knuckle-dragging Neanderthals. Sure, we’ve got a few of those and most can be found on the forum, mashing the keypad with their fists, but you’ve also got a lot of football knowledge on the terraces and in the stands. People that are not happy to patronised and told that what they just witnessed on the pitch was something completely different and better.

I don’t think his position is helped by the increasingly provocative and suggestive comments from his agent on social media. Darren has never been a wallflower, but he appears to the uninitiated outsider to be teeing his client up for his next move rather than helping him cement the position he currently has.

I don’t think also that Mark’s position helped by his constant claims that we played well and were in the game for long periods when clearly we weren’t! We’ve heard this after too many games now when the fans can quite clearly see for themselves that what happened on the pitch just wasn’t good enough. Whilst I agree with Mark that the players don’t go out there to lose or put in a bad performance, they don’t appear on the other hand to be going out there with purpose or commitment.

As long as you’re only a goal behind I accept that you’re still technically “in the game”. But our consistent lack of possession and miniscule number of attempts at goal mean that whilst we’re in it, we never look like being in it
to win it. We’re completing rather than competing right now and that needs to change. We’ve got some big games ahead of us this season to finish off with. Games that nobody expects us to win against teams still with playoff ambitions. These games will see big gates and lively atmospheres from our opposition so surely now’s the time to turn up the effort to 11 and give the fans something to get excited about. I worry that if we don’t, we’ll be starting next season with fewer attendees than we have now, and that’s not a position I want to consider right now.
If the results for us are largely meaningless now, then surely the fans would rather see a lively 3-4 loss than another dull 0-0 draw…?

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