Verdict: A comfortable afternoon for Rovers – a phrase not used often recently

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Mark Whittle gives his verdict on Rovers’ emphatic win over Huddersfield Town…

I do not know whether to be delighted or frustrated after the convincing win over Huddersfield Town.

I’m obviously delighted at such a fantastic win, but also frustrated for different reasons to recent weeks. This time because what we have had to watch in the previous 17 matches leaves you completely baffled as to where it has all gone horribly wrong to then produce a performance that we have not witnessed since the first few matches back in September and October.

It was indeed a comfortable afternoon for Rovers, something which has not been said for a long time! It felt like going back in time to September 2020 when we had our first home match of this season at Ewood Park, beating newly promoted Wycombe, hitting five with an Adam Armstrong hat-trick. We all had such high hopes after that victory thinking we would be in for a good season, challenging the top six. Fast forward seven months and Rovers again hit five with an Adam Armstrong hat-trick, although this time it did not seem to mean much. It is difficult to imagine that all this has been in the same season which has ‘fallen way below expectations’ in Tony Mowbray’s own words.

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However, despite the result and the emphatic way it came, it all feels a bit too little, too late for Rovers and Mowbray. As happy as I am with the win, I did not really feel much at the end of the game as I am already at the stage of feeling flat, tired, uninspired, and lost the buzz somewhat for Rovers after this campaign. The win does not paper over the cracks, but I will certainly enjoy it with a beer or two in the spring sunshine.

Even though I do not think there was any real danger of Rovers getting relegated, we have needed to win these last two home games against Derby and Huddersfield to make certain of that. There is a sense that Rovers can relax now and try to win the final two matches of the season and get to the summer. They will not be able to relax for too long though as there are several issues that the club need to address and quickly. Whether fans what Mowbray to remain at Ewood next season or not, I think the way in which the manager is already planning for next season, suggests that he will be the man in the Ewood dugout come August.

Now, Rovers need to concentrate on is sorting the out of contract players situation. Mowbray has alluded to the fact that decisions have been made on those players already. With Bradley Johnson and Stewart Downing not being involved in the match day squad against Huddersfield, I fully expect these two to be the first out of Ewood as soon as the season concludes. I know Mowbray has been rotating the squad in the last few games, but I will be surprised if Johnson and Downing remains at the club beyond this season.

Adam Armstrong’s second Rovers hat-trick may well have added a couple more pounds onto his price tag if the talisman is to leave. To score as many goals as he has in a team that will finish below mid-table will no doubt see him move on, with only one year left on his own contract after this year. If Armstrong is to depart, replacing his goals is a huge task alone.

There were some other good performances against Huddersfield that was pleasing to see. Lewis Travis looked more like his old self, even with picking up a booking within the first 5 minutes of the contest. Ben Brereton also played the best he has played for some time – yet he could, and should, have had a hat-trick himself. These are the players Rovers will have to build the team around in 2021-22.

For me personally, this was likely to be the last Rovers match I watch this season so if that is to be the case, a great way to finish. I really hope the next time I am writing it will be after attending a match back at my beloved Ewood Park.

Despite the highs and lows (plenty of those) over the last few months, it has been a pleasure to write my thoughts after games for Rovers Chat. Thanks for reading and enjoy the win! 

Featured Image Credit: Getty Images

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