Talking Points: Set pieces, shirts and slow build-up

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Adrian Spencer discusses three talking points from Rovers’ draw with Bristol City…

Ineffective set pieces proving to be costly for Rovers

Something Rovers have shown to struggle consistently is getting right their set pieces. Whether it’s a free kick or a corner kick, we never seem to be able to be a threat from dead ball situations. 

The most upsetting thing of all is that I can not find a reason as to why we aren’t able to be menacing in these situations. We have plenty of players with the ability to swing the ball into the box and curve a free kick on target, yet we don’t cause many problems from them.

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Corner kicks hit the side net or end up being cleared, free kicks near the box hit the wall, and other set plays seem to end up in nothing. 

This is an issue that must be sorted out rather sooner than later. Set pieces are a great asset in many different ways: to break the deadlock, to get a goal back when we’re looking like we’ll lose, and especially in games like today’s drab affair. 

If Rovers could manage to work on their set pieces, they would have been able to take maximum points today: with six corner kicks and plenty of free kicks, having only two shots on target is such a disappointment for a team made up of players with such quality. 

Shirts in support for Dack show togetherness

During today’s pre-match warmup, we saw the players wearing shirts with an image of Bradley Dack and the words “We Are Together” on the front.

Many would simply overlook this and some even said it was unnecessary, but I think it was a gesture that sums up this group of players. It demonstrates how close they are and that this club means much more than what happens on the pitch. 

The spirit to keep going, to push through adversity by hard work and the right mentality is something that is very valuable in any team and certainly to this football club after everything it has been through. 

This, to me, is also a reflection of Tony Mowbray’s project so far at Rovers. We may not be the most glamorous or consistent team in this league, but it is clear that our manager has created a philosophy, a set of values that lie in the core of this team no matter what players come in, what injuries they face and the position the team sits in the league.

Form is temporary: clubs have great strikes of luck and suddenly click, they get promoted and achieve spectacular success. But all this doesn’t last: only the teams who prove to have a strong mentality and great togetherness are the ones who achieve their goals in the long run. 

Plenty of possession – but no end product

Let’s face it: We can’t expect Rovers to win every game, to watch a great display and take three points with ease. But. we should expect them to put up a fight and ask questions out of the opposition. Today we saw most of the possession but didn’t create any clear cut chances. 

I think that the transition Tony wants us to make to a ball playing team like Liverpool hasn’t worked out that well, and is proving to make us a boring side at times. It’s frustrating to watch a side with so much potential pass the ball around midfield and pass it back to the defence without trying to create any chances.

It’s just that glimpse of magic we’re lacking: that wonderful overhead ball into the box from Elliott; that through ball from midfield breaking through the defence for Armstrong to pick up; that cross from the flanks that Brereton or Gallagher push to reach. These players have talent to burn and something isn’t working, something doesn’t click into gear for us to prove we are a side with great players. 

I fear that this is something we will suffer from in the future. We’ve seen talented players like Reed, Adarabioyo and Elliott come to Rovers and prove their worth – but they haven’t been able to push us up the table into those spots that belong to the best teams in the division.

We seem to have lots of quality, but nothing in the end to prove it. 

Thanks for reading, and stay safe.

Featured Image Credit: Getty Images

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