The Goal Machine Returns – Rochdale Preview

by on 03/03/05 at 3:42 pm

Saturday sees the fixture I have been most looking forward to all season. The visit of Rochdale and the return of Paul (The Goal Machine) Tait.

Why am I looking forward to the return of Paul Tait? Well for lots of reasons really. Firstly so I can give him some stick without feeling bad about myself. Secondly so I can actually enjoy watching him being muscled off the ball at every opportunity and finally so I can use him as a yardstick by which to measure the progress we have made since he left (if any).

Of course the downside to all this is that he is an absolutely nailed on 100% guaranteed stone cold certainty to score against us. I remember Bob Lee, a useless lump of a centre forward signed by Terry Cooper in the 80/81 relegation season. A man so athletic and talented he made Paul Tait look like Rivaldo. Well shortly after being relegated we got shot of him and he went to Carlisle. In his first game aginst us he scored, via a deflection, off his arse. That’s how Tait will score on Saturday, with a deflection, off his bony arse. I have seen it.

Have we really made any progress since Tait? That’s the twenty thousand dollar question. The side still ain’t right. Dicky Walker holds the ball up and sticks it in the net, but Junior plays for Junior and not the team. The lumpy Thorpedo has been and gone and Forester and Haldane sit on the bench. So I guess up front we have more options if no more answers. The biggest question we have is about committment and the will to win. A rapid turnover of players does not engender a good team ethic. We hoped players like Hunt, The Troll, Gibb, Elliott and Anderson would bring the steel and ruggedness we so obviously lacked with Tait in the side. yet still we roll over in a very un-Bristol Rovers like fashion much to the chagrin of Stone Wall Ian Atkins who threatens yet another Summer clear out.

If we are any sort of team, we will be twatting Tait in to touch every time he gets near the ball. Yet I predict we will allow him the time and space our forwards are forever denied and he will look good and score (admittedly off his arse off a deflection). Rochdale have been winning one and then drawing one for most of the season and have a familiar looking collection of old pros and scufflers who are almost guaranteed at least a draw against our misfiring team of chokers and wantaways.

Atkins has rolled out a sterile 5-3-2 for the last two away games and that obviously hasn’t worked. I can’t see him changing it now though without a winger to bring in unless Savage is fit. Ricky Shakes must be wondering why he bothered coming here on loan for twenty minutes of football. Junior needs some time out of the team to regather his thoughts, but won’t be rested. The best we can hope for from this season now, barring a miracle in the AWS away match at Southend, is that we sell Junior for enough money to cover this season’s debt.

If I was in charge I’d go for a 4-4-2 and see what the kids from the Academy could do at right back and on the wings. I’d also partner Haldane with Walker and bring on Forrester if I wanted more firepower. But Atkins has other plans and will grind out a 1-1 draw against poor opposition. See you there?

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