Leroy Rosenior: It's time for Bristol Rovers to reveal long-term plan - if one exists
IT IS high time those responsible for running Bristol Rovers Football Club take responsibility for what is happening on the field. By that, I don't mean manager Mark McGhee, who is left to face the press after poor results and performances on a weekly basis.
I believe the situation has now become so serious, it requires the board of directors and senior employees to come out and issue some kind of mission statement.
It is not just that Rovers are one place off the bottom of the Football League and in real danger of being relegated; just as worrying is the sense of drift and the apparent lack of direction that has left the supporters in torment.
They want to know what is going on and I think they have reached a point where the chairman, Nick Higgs, pictured below, needs to publicly outline his vision and reveal his long-term plan – if he has one.
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What is the short-term plan in January and will Mark McGhee be able to spend money in the transfer market? Is he still the right man for the job, or will they look to appoint another manager before the transfer window opens and let him have a go?
What is the plan beyond January and for the rest of the season? And where do the board see the club going and what are their main objectives over the next two years?
If the board come out and say we need another six players to get us out of trouble, the fans will more than likely agree with that. If they say we don't need to strengthen and can get out of trouble with what we've got, most will disagree, but at least the fans will know where they stand.
At the moment, they are not sure what they are getting behind. If there is a clear vision put before them, they can either buy into it or not.
There was a point last Saturday, until Barnet conceded a late goal, when Rovers were actually bottom of the Football League. It does not get any worse and something needs to be done urgently.
This situation is far worse than the one presided over by Paul Buckle last season. I felt Rovers fans always believed they had the players to get out of trouble, even if they did not rate the manager.
But now I see a situation where the fans have no faith in either the manager or the team and that is a bad place to be.
When people turn up for a home game and are already angry before a ball has been kicked, things become really difficult for the players. When the crowd are on your backs from the start, it does not give the players a chance.
Mark came out after the 1-0 defeat to Dagenham & Redbridge and told reporters he was pleased with certain aspects of his team's performance. But for me, results are now far more important than performances and I'm sure Rovers fans will take a scrappy win at York tomorrow.
I'm sure the fans realise the gravity of the situation. They now need to come together, get behind the team and try to help Mark and his players get some points on the board at York.
Things are looking a little brighter on the other side of Bristol and I feel City's 3-2 win at Sheffield Wednesday could turn out to be a massive turning point for the club.
A lot of attention has been focussed on the tactics and selection policy of Robins boss Derek McInnes in recent weeks and I believe he was absolutely right to revert to 4-4-2 and attack a Sheffield Wednesday side that has a poor defensive record.
With two strikers in the starting line-up, City got themselves into areas where they could put the opposition under pressure and it was that pressure that led to the two penalties and the free-kick award that enabled Albert Adomah to win the game at the death.
I understand why Derek went back to playing just one up front when the team was struggling and in urgent need of stopping the goals against going in, but sometimes your best chance of keeping a clean sheet is to go with two banks of four and deploy a couple of strikers to frighten the opposition.
I've seen City play a midfield five and, when they let a goal in, players looking at one another and pointing the finger of blame because they are not sure who should be taking responsibility in certain situations.
Playing one up front tends to invite the opposition to come at you and we saw Wolves push the full-backs on and dominate the game territorially at Ashton Gate the other week.
If you are going to play with one up front, you need a striker who absolutely loves that kind of role and midfield players with the legs to get up there and support him. Didier Drogba was one of the first to do it in the Premier League, since when other managers have tried to follow suit.
But you need the right kind of players and you don't see Manchester United or Manchester City doing it. They have some great strikers, but always go with two up front.
Looking at Bristol City's squad, I feel they are at their best when they have two forwards in the starting line-up. They have tried blocking up midfield to keep things tight and still not managed to keep a clean sheet, so maybe they should set out to score more goals than the opposition.
For me, two up front with a wide player and one attacking central midfielder and one holding midfielder is the best way to go for the Robins.
City's problems at home have been well documented and I would like to see them go with a 4-4-2 system and get on the front foot right from the start against Derby tomorrow.
The fans also have a part to play, because opposition sides come to Ashton Gate knowing that they only have to keep things tight for 15 to 20 minutes and the home fans will become restless.
Visiting teams have come to rely upon it and it would be good to see Ashton Gate regulars still making a noise after that initial period, even if their team is not in front. There is nothing worse than playing at home in a quiet stadium and City need to improve their record in BS3 if they are to move up the table.