Paul Wheelock column: Rovers side needs only minor surgery
IF the Rovers squad was in need of major surgery this time last year it is testament to Gary Bowyer’s astuteness in the transfer market that 12 months on it requires very little in the way of additions.
A right back is certainly needed, as is another centre back, while extra pace in attack would not go amiss.
You are talking three, possibly four, new signings.
It is a remarkable turnaround.
But not that you will get Bowyer patting himself on the back.
Firstly, it’s not in his nature to, and secondly and most importantly, through no fault of his own, he still has plenty of work to do to rid Rovers of the players who they can easily afford to lose and who they can ill-afford to keep.
Were Leon Best, Dickson Etuhu, DJ Campbell, Bradley Orr and David Goodwillie to depart tomorrow they would not be missed.
Not on a playing front, as they have they played no part in the progress Bowyer’s side have made this season, and certainly not on a financial front, as their permanent exits would go a long way to easing the club’s still not inconsiderable wage bill, saving Rovers more than £100,000 per week.
But as we have seen this season it is not easy to move players on who have the security of long-term and big-money contracts.
Striker Best is the best example of that.
He was eventually shipped out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday in February.
But the deal would never have happened had Rovers not allowed their Championship rivals to pay around a sixth of Best’s weekly wages.
So no wonder Bowyer, who has inherited this financial mismanagement, believes it will not be until another two summer transfer windows that Rovers will have a squad, in his own words, that is ‘back to where it should be’.
By that time the likes of Campbell, Orr and Goodwillie, whose deals run until 2015, and Best and Etuhu, whose deals run until 2016, will be out of contract and free to leave.
But with Financial Fair Play looming large Rovers must do all they can to get shut before then.
That is the unenviable challenge facing Bowyer.
It is to his enormous credit, then, that he has started the process of cutting costs where possible while constructing a team, on a budget reduced from his predessecors, which finished just two points outside of the play-off places this season.
And it is a team, with a little tinkering, that has the potential to push for promotion next season.
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