Rovers’ boss Darrell Clarke reflected back on Saturday’s abandoned match at Swindon when we caught up with him at the training ground yesterday.
“It was a strange afternoon, to be honest, but we can’t control the elements; the referee made his decision and we have to move on.
“It was frustrating, because both myself and Swindon boss Luke Williams wanted to carry on playing and I think that any manager, unless his side is losing, would say the same if they were put in the same situation.
“However the referee is in charge of things and, ultimately, it has to be his decision as to whether or not the game continues.”
The manager then turned his thoughts to tonight’s game against Reading Under-23’s in the Checkatrade Trophy, a game that kicks off at 7.45 pm at The Memorial Stadium.
“I want to win every football match we are involved in and tonight will be no different, though to be honest, I don’t agree with how the EFL have gone about restructuring the competition.
“My understanding is that things have been done this way so that some of the so called big clubs could enhance the development of their younger players, yet many of those clubs have decided against entering.
“Nevertheless, it’s a tournament we want to do well in, and it’s a game we want to win. I appreciate that there are a many different opinions about the competition, but we have a game to play and a game to win.
“I accept that fans may not turn up in their numbers for the match and respect their right to make that decision, especially as it comes at the end of a month when they have had to pay out a great deal of money for games already played to date.
“I’m sure that football supporters all over the country will show everyone what they think of the competition, but I hope that everyone who comes along to The Mem tomorrow will get behind us, as they always do.
“Overall, though, I don’t think that there are too many football supporters who are happy about the way the tournament has been organised and I think, and hope, that there will be a great deal of research into how the competition can go forward after this season.”
It’s going to be an interesting game for, as Clarke says, Reading have a huge pool of players to choose from.
“They, and many other Premier League and Championship clubs have something like 60 professionals on their books, and they are all good players, so we can expect a tough game.
“I do think, though, that we need to be careful about the way the game is going in this country.
“In my opinion one of the strengths of the English game is the fact that clubs have the opportunity to move between divisions thanks to our promotion and relegation system.
“I don’t think that football supporters want to see reserve teams of Premier League clubs competing in the EFL. I know that happens in Spain, but I think that many fans aren’t too enamoured about what’s happening at the top level of the game in this country and are tired of the talk about ‘B’ teams/development teams/and U-21 sides being involved in the same competition as EFL clubs.”
He admitted that it was difficult to know what sort of team tomorrow night’s opponents will field; “The focus has to be on ourselves, we can’t really second guess as how Reading will line up. All we can do is to go out and try to win a football match on our own ground.”
The manager also admitted he was still hopeful of adding to his squad before the transfer window closes on Wednesday.
“I am hopeful of bringing in one or two new faces as I would like to freshen our squad up a little bit. I have my targets, but we will just have to wait and see how things develop.
“I’m not panicking about the situation, though I do feel that a number of clubs will be doing just that and, perhaps, picking the wrong options for their side or wondering if their squads are large enough to get them through to January.”
Darrell said that he doesn’t want to lose any members of his squad; “I don’t want to sell anyone, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t have a few bids for some of our players but I want to rebuild not lose players and I’m not contemplating selling in this window.”