In my first real season of attending Rovers games in 1977/78 I notched up my first away game in February; Blackpool, writes Simon Smith.

Sadly Rovers lost 5-2 although they remained fifth with Blackpool moving up to seventh.

Both clubs were still in those positions with 10 games to go.

Blackpool ended up being relegated. Rovers finished fifth - despite not winning any of their last eight games and drawing only three - 15 places above Blackpool but only eight points in front.

Obviously this was in the days before three points for a win, but even with that rule the last relegated side would have had 51 points.

Does that total ring any bells?

This division is as tight as the last train home from Manchester.

What had been a promising season now needs a renewal of that commitment.

For all that we were within our rights to grind our teeth and utter angry words as Rovers conceded a soft goal so early on, imagine how the manager felt after working on such set-pieces for days?

Some players need to realise that a Championship centre-back needs to be more Kevin Moran than moron, more Craig Short than...well, they need to realise they are not Franz flippin’ Beckenbauer and pick up some bruises for the cause.

One theory is that our defence are too good-looking to be in that position.

One need only look to our manager, the afore-mentioned ex-Rovers duo or the rugged Ryan Nelsen to see that even top level defenders need to put their heads in where the boots and elbows fly.

The punishment dished out to Danny Graham by opposition defenders is not reciprocated by our rearguard.

I’m not advocating violence but it is still a contact sport and any kind of repeat of the insipid display against Preston will lead to another defeat on Saturday.

I’m not panicking. I still have 100 per cent faith in Tony Mowbray.

My views on the defenders to have been loaned out differ from his, but he is a manager and was a top class, battling centre-half for 18 years and so I defer to his knowledge.