IT is rare for Gary Bowyer to criticise his Rovers players in public. It’s not his style even if it can be to his detriment when it comes to what fans want to hear.

But watch and listen to the interviews he delivered after the 2-2 draw at Birmingham and it is clear he was struggling to disguise his indignation.


Understandably so, too, as if one match encapsulated Rovers’ ultimately underwhelming league campaign, then this was it.

Bowyer talked of the need for his team to become more ‘ruthless’ in both boxes and the need for them to develop a winning ‘mentality’.

He stopped short of saying they need to toughen up yet he would have been entirely justified to do so.

Not necessarily tougher in the obvious sense – although how this current Rovers crop could do with a firebrand like a David Speedie, a Robbie Savage, a Craig Bellamy – yet tougher in the sense of not taking their foot off the gas when in control of games.

Tougher in the sense of not needing to concede to get going again.

Tougher in the sense of not giving away the most basic of goals.

And tougher in the sense of not passing up the most presentable of chances.

All those depressingly familiar elements were on show at St Andrew’s on Tuesday night.

As improved as Birmingham were after the restart, the bottom line is the game should have been over by half-time.

To Rovers’ credit, like they have done on many occasions this season, they responded well to being pegged back.

But, once back in front, they again failed to ram home their superiority and it will have come as no surprise to the 277 hardy travelling supporters when Birmingham equalised again.

It has happened far too often for it to be a coincidence and Bowyer has to get to the bottom of it if Rovers are to progress further under his watch.

This season has gone now and, take away the Liverpool FA Cup replay, in truth it has been since the home defeat to Brentford.

But it is not necessarily Rovers’ results against the sides above them, like Brentford, which have cost them – although, apart from Bournemouth and Middlesbrough, those results have left a lot to be desired – it is more the amount of points they have dropped to teams down the bottom.

As well as Birmingham on Tuesday, there was Brighton at home, Blackpool at home, Wigan away, Bolton away, Millwall away, Huddersfield at home and Rotherham away.

There is no question Rovers are where they deserve to be in the table.

Now they have to use these final four games of the campaign to show that they can do something about it next season.