Updated: Jan 11, 2022
I'm aware I haven't written for a while but to be honest I have been finding it difficult. For anyone who has ever known me - whether it's in person or on Social Media - I am always Mrs Positive! With my last blog being so dreadfully downbeat after the online abuse, I was determined to make this next one a little more positive. Rovers are of course not doing me any favours so I'm not sure that's going to happen - sorry! I must acknowledge the support I received from my previous blog post - thank you so much for all the messages. Posting that was nerve-wracking but I am grateful to have the platform to voice how I felt during those few weeks. Additionally, I really felt that the football community pulled together to stand by me when I felt at my lowest. I've now made a lot of friends on Twitter during lockdown and I cannot wait to meet so many new people at future Away Days. Those people who tried to drag me down have actually gifted me with welcome changes in my life - so I can only thank them, right?
The relegation battle is still ongoing. It's still very tight in the bottom 6. Having said that - it seems every other team in the bottom six are capable of picking up points except for us. We are getting sucked further and further into it and the mountain we have left to climb is only getting steeper.
It's going to be really tough to call whether we will survive this year. If we do - then it will be by the skin of our teeth. Unfortunately, we have had far too many spineless performances and subsequently we are running out of time to save ourselves. Joey Barton has brought positive changes in terms of our attitude on the pitch but our inability to defend simple set pieces AND score goals is our 'achilles heel' this season. I certainly believed Barton was the right man to get us out of this mess but what is he really to do with a squad of hopeless players that aren't his?
"Joey Barton has told his Bristol Rovers players they can walk away if they are not up to the task of 'climbing Everest' and fighting for survival."
Barton can't work miracles but I feel like I've been prepared for this for a while. I had us down and out after we conceded in the 95th minute to Wigan. That was when it truly hit home. Below is my very emotional post match thoughts after that game:
The frustration, for us fans, is we were promised some sort of progression going forward since the Al-Qadi's took over. We have a new training ground in production plus talks of a new stadium on the horizon in the near future. It's a major setback in this progression to have to rebuild the entire squad in the league below. Poor, unbalanced recruitment and lack of quality on the pitch with the addition of weak squad mentality are the main factors of our downfall this season. There's a lot of people at this club who have so much to answer for.
So... here we go again. ANOTHER relegation. Sadly, once you're in as deep as I am with your club there's no getting out of it. You're stuck with this club for life - even in the darkest days. So is it really the end of the world? The simple answer is no. Of course it's not! Sometimes you need to take a step backwards to move forwards. When we drop down a league, this is a chance for Joey Barton to rip into the squad and rebuild. I'm confident that, with his own transfer window, he has the capacity to do well as a League Two manager. If I'm to scrape any positives it'll be that I'm already looking forward to the Away Days in League Two. I'm picturing me and my friends in a sunny pub garden in Torquay pre-match in August. Newport (A) is only 45 minutes on the train. Exeter, FGR and (potentially) Swindon are close by. The GasCast lads and I have made a pact to do Harrogate (A) no matter the circumstance and I'm looking forward to that one, too*. Football isn't necessarily what is happening on the pitch but it's about spending your days travelling the country with the friends you've met through supporting your club. You've been through the ups and downs together and that's something that will never change. I'm sure most people agree that sitting on the sofa watching a dross performance on your own on a weekly basis was becoming tiring and repetitive. There were days where I just felt mentally exhausted from watching us. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to be able to watch the Ipswich game with the guys on Good Friday thanks to the return of 'Rule of 6' in private gardens. The sting of losing the game is much less painful when you're surrounded by good people to lift your mood. I would highly recommend it.
It's sad that us fans haven't played a single part in this season. We've been there in spirit but the 12th man has been truly missed. I look forward to the first game of the season and seeing The Mem packed out with Goodnight Irene bellowing from the Thatchers End terrace. We'll be well and truly back, no matter what league we are in. Keep your chin up, Gasheads. We will go again as a club and put this strange, unprecedented season behind us. Whatever happens in these next 5 games, it's just 4 months to go until we are home watching our beloved, useless team again. I can't bloody wait. See you soon - UTG!
*I'm very much looking forward to Rovers winning 5 out of the last 5 and making everything I have just said in this blog redundant. I'd look a complete mug. Fingers crossed. UTG.