Bristol Rovers FanZoner Jon Jerrome is a happier man with Mark McGhee now in the dugout.
Rovers now in safer hands
A new manager coupled with a revival in form suggests 2012 may be a year to remember for Gasheads.
Following a dismal 2011 which saw no less than four managers take charge of the club, green shoots of recovery have finally surfaced following Paul Buckle's departure from the Memorial Stadium. Spirits were low, confidence was drained and many fans were feeling disenchanted with the direction of the club following a disastrous season.
The appointment of Buckle's predecessor was always going to be a crucial one and the early signs appeared worrying as several strong contenders ruled themselves out of the race. After a break down in talks with former Doncaster boss Sean O'Driscoll, names such as Richard Money and Paul Ince were branded around and things were to get considerably worse with stories linking Alan Shearer with the position. It's fair to say that the A-Z of Non-League Football would've come in handy had the latter swopped Match of the Day for BS7.
However as many resigned themselves to an uninspiring appointment, news of a dramatic late comer in the managerial race came to light with Mark McGhee linked from several sources. Given the success the former Aberdeen boss had previously managing down south, many were lifted by the prospect of the Scotsman arriving in North Bristol and his eventual appointment was met with widespread approval.
With a lack of harmony present throughout Buckle's reign, an experienced man was needed to steady the ship and create a much needed unity around the club. Furthermore our league position ensured that an upturn in results was required to prevent us being dragged into yet another relegation battle. Having witnessed the dour 0-0 home draw with Crawley days before joining the club, McGhee would have been under no illusions of the task in hand and the challenge of installing a winning mentally back in the club.
The short trip to high flying Cheltenham represented a new era for the club as a travelling army of Gasheads made the journey with a new sense of optimism. Given the leaky nature of our defence under Buckle, it was clear in pre match interviews that a real and much needed emphasis was to be placed on keeping it tight at the back to provide the foundation for success on the counter attack.
The eventual 2-0 victory surprised many and provided a real boost to supporters who were finally seeing the old Rovers spirit rekindled on and off the pitch. What's more, the modesty displayed in McGhee's post match interview was particularly refreshing with the communication on offer from the previous man at the helm.
One week later and things were about to get better with another hard fought victory registered against fellow strugglers Bradford City. In truth the football on display reflected the awful playing surface but few argued with the ugly nature of the win given our precarious league position. And two successive victories represents the kind of magical turnaround that even Debbie McGee would be proud of.
Things are certainly looking brighter and the feel good factor is slowly being restored under McGhee's reign. With captain Matt Gill returning from injury and the loan retention of Michael Poke, Cian Bolger and Andy Dorman, the squad has a far stronger look to it and looks capable of continuing our recent positive form.
Furthermore the confidence in the side appears to have been restored with the likes of Elliott Richards shining over recent weeks. However whilst optimists point to the 10 gap between us and the play off's, it's crucial that we continue to keep up the winning momentum and finish this campaign on a positive note.
Up the Gas!