Joey Barton told about 8 Bristol Rovers transfer decisions he must make this summer
The results of our big Bristol Rovers survey are in... and it was interesting to hear the opinions of supporters.
Bristol Rovers look set for an exciting summer, which should bring them several new additions, whilst there is some optimism as to if they can keep some of their loan stars.
The Gas have already persuaded Grant Ward and Josh Grant to sign new contracts, and as they await Everton's decision whether to keep or release Lewis Gibson, they will be there waiting to pounce if the Toffees do part with the £6m rated star.
Players and coaches are due back in pre-season in the next few weeks, and Joey Barton wants up to four players by the time they begin, as they're off to a Royal Commandos base, which is to help build team spirit. The 40-year-old will need to work as closely as he can with any new recruits, as for the first three games of the season, he's got a stadium ban, though that is being appealed.
The transfer window opens on Wednesday, June 14, and so far no new arrivals have been confirmed, but we have seen Callum MacDonald join Mansfield Town after his departure from the Memorial Stadium. To try and gather the thoughts of fans ahead of the window opening, we've conducted a big Bristol Rovers survey, which asked various questions. We've already published the 22-man transfer shortlist you've put together, as well as your opinions on a potential big money sale of Aaron Collins. Here’s the rest of our findings:
Tried and tested is the preference…
Most of Joey Barton’s signings have been in the form of young players who are trying to find their way in football and are in need of first-team experience. It’s been something that’s worked so far, but a lot of them have been loans, and that’s been problematic because they eventually return to their parent club.
This summer, 54.8% of fans want ‘proven’ League One performers to come in. It’s quite a broad saying, but I imagine fans want to sign players in a similar mold to Grant Ward, John Marquis and Jordan Rossiter. It's not an overwhelming preference however, and 24.7% of fans want Barton to continue signing released Premier League and Championship youngsters, similar to Lewis Gordon. You then have 9.6% who want young EFL players who are hungry and can improve. 6.8% are for top performing players from League Two below, and then 4.1% want marquee signings.
Ambitions for next season…
Fans are expecting some progression from the team next season, and with the current squad, 53.4% of fans think the team will finish between 8th and 12th. A 10th-placed finish in 2017 under Darrell Clarke is the highest the club has finished in recent years.
If you add in 20.5% who think Rovers are getting in to the play-offs, and then the ambitious 1.4% who think there’s a chance of going up automatically, then 75.3% believe anything from 12th up to 1st is possible.
An 18th-placed finish came last year, and 23.3% believe the same will happen again, with a possible finish of between 13th and 20th. 1.4% of fans think the team will go down with the current squad.
Rovers fans have given their preference and that’s League One performers, but as for how they expect most of their business to unfold, 41.1.% think signings will come from Championship clubs. The aim is to reach the second tier, and by recruiting players from the division above, they would for sure bring some quality.
The rest of the signings should come from the same division, with 31.% believing their signings will come from League One teams. You then have 13.7% thinking youngsters from the Premier League will shape their business, whilst 12.3% believe League Two will be where they shop and 1.4% being from the non-league.
Big opinion on the loan market..
No one was massively against the loan market, but 17.8% of respondents said that money would be better used on making permanent signings.
For the past two seasons, we’ve seen a reliance on loan players, and ideally you want to own your squad, but there’s been some players available like Elliot Anderson and Lewis Gibson, who were too good to turn down.
As for the opinion on the loan market, 60.3% want to use it, but only if it makes the team stronger. No one wants any loan players that are just making up the squad, and want players to be right in the first-team. 21.9% say they want it to definitely be used, and that they bring in extra quality that would otherwise not be affordable.
Transfer team gets the seal of approval
Joey Barton’s got a trusted transfer team, and Eddy Jennings is the man tasked with finding targets, whilst CEO Tom Gorringe thrashes out the contracts. Fans are overwhelmingly in favour of the transfer team with 90.4% backing them.
Barton's job is safe too, and has got a 76.7% satisfactory rate with Barton getting 57.5% on agree, and 19.2% on strongly agree. 15.1% of people are neutral, whilst 5.5% disagree and 2.7% strongly disgree. As for the performances last season, the club finished 18th, and 65.8% were happy with the performance of the team.
A reflection on the 2022/23 transfer business though is that not enough was done with 67.1% believing that more signings should have come last summer and in January. 32.9% disagreed, but there was a feeling that January was a big chance to get the players in and recruit for a play-off push.
Free transfers expected to shape transfer business
Unless things change and Rovers get a big transfer fee for Aaron Collins, then fans think 50.7% of their business will be free transfers. It’s to be expected, as there haven’t been many signings brought in for a fee, with only Ryan Loft, James Connolly, Luke McCormick and Jordan Rossiter coming to mind.
Some money could be spent though, and even without a Collins sale, there might be someone out there worth signing for a fee, with a big attempt made to sign McCormick last summer. 27.4% respondents believe players for fees will be brought in, and then 21.9% believe loans is the way.
Busy window needed…
Rovers have been busy during Joey Barton’s tenure, and there’s been plenty of chopping and changing, and 74% of fans believe that between five to 10 signings should come in. Barton previously spoke about potentially 12 new signings, and 20.5% believe 10+ are needed, whilst 5.5% believe five or less should come in.
And the area of concern!
No one believes a new goalkeeper is the most important, which means James Belshaw’s place is safe. Jed Ward could continue his challenge for the number one spot, but there could also be a look elsewhere like they did with Ellery Balcmbe.
New defenders is what is regarded as the area of concern, with 78.1% wanting defensive reinforcements. In second is midfield with 15.1% but there are plenty of options, and then 6.8% believe new attackers should come in.