Talking Points: What next for Rovers after Sheffield United victory?


Howard Abbott discusses three talking points as Rovers defeat Sheffield United at Ewood…

A perfect response  

The pressure was well and truly on everyone to right the wrongs of Wednesday night, that goes without saying, but boy did they do that.  

Each and every player left everything out on that pitch today, with the work ethic from everyone really second to none. The character was really there to be seen too, with the players not letting that early goal, which felt disastrous at the time, get the better of them.  

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They certainly didn’t play like players not playing for their manager.  

Changes making the difference 

When most saw the team at 2pm, you’d have thought they were the pickings of a man feeling the heat, but coming away from the game, now seem inspired. 

Each and every change made a difference today.

Scott Wharton, though looking quite rusty early on, was as solid as the defender we were used to seeing 12 months ago.  

Jacob Davenport was superb, as he seemingly always is when he plays, adding much more tenacity, work rate and ability than Bradley Johnson in that role and really kept us in control of the midfield when over some previous games we have failed at doing so. 

And the two wingers, Reda Khadra and Ian Poveda were both immense, with one of the two being involved in each goal.

Khadra was a little guilty of overplaying at times, but his quick feet, brilliant set-piece delivery and drive brought us much further up the pitch and really troubled a good Championship full-back in Bogle. While Poveda – where did that come from? I think over previous appearances we’ve started to see a slight improvement, but he really came into life today and really deserved his goal.

After potentially thinking he may be worth losing in January, you’re now coming away thinking ‘God, he’s some player isn’t he?’ 

Football, eh? 

What next? 

So as of writing, we sit seventh – I suppose that’s the Championship. An away trip to struggling Bristol City awaits us after the international break, and I can’t feel it’s come at a perfect time. 

In two weeks’ time, you’d like to think the likes of Gallagher, Ayala, Rankin-Costello, Pickering and I suppose Wharton will be back to full fitness and ready to assert themselves back into the mix, but what a selection headache this must be for Mowbray. 

I wouldn’t like to be the one choosing the front three, having to leave two of Diaz, Gallagher, Dolan, Poveda and Khadra out will be terribly harsh, so it’ll be interesting to see who he favours.

The same goes at left-back and centre half. Bar the Fulham massacre, Tayo Edun, for me, has been superb but will he keep his place once Pickering returns? If he favours Pickering, does Edun move into midfield, if so who for? 

Though I imagine Ayala will slot straight back in, it isn’t an easy decision after Wharton’s display today. 

It just seems like an impossible job almost, and it is certainly one I don’t envy. 

Thanks for reading.

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