With every ending there is a new beginning, though Rovers are just as much heading into the unknown.

First, their play-off aspirations were officially ended by a 3-0 home defeat to Bournemouth in their final home game of the season.

While that may have been the mathematical confirmation in a must-win scenario, they had been in the last chance saloon since the Easter weekend that brought back-to-back defeats.

Things have unravelled at quite a pace, Rovers inside the automatic promotion places as recently as February 8, when this penultimate fixture looked to have the prospect of being a top two decider.

Yet Rovers now have to prepare for a fifth successive Championship season, their exile from the Premier League to extend into an 11th year.

At just the wrong time, Rovers’ home form deserted them, with five points from their final six just adding to the long list of missed opportunities that have passed them by.

The end is also nearing for Tony Mowbray, the final day game at Birmingham City will be his 267th, and final, game in charge. Rovers’ second-longest serving post-War manager will then depart to bring a new beginning in the managerial hotseat.

Though how the manager’s departure has played out has done little to ease concerns about Rovers’ behind the scenes operation, as Mowbray himself highlighted the amount of work the club’s hierarchy face to address the growing number of on, and off, field issues.

The list of required appointments and decisions appears to be growing by the week. This promises to be quite the overhaul.

Mowbray isn’t quite swinging from the hip when it comes to his comments prior to his exit, but some were particularly telling, including revealing concerns about the future are shared by the dressing room.

He said: “Some of them are concerned about what’s coming next, and I’ve said that you have to trust the people who make the decisions.”

His comments within the last few days have focused too on reinvestment in the team, not feeling that was done with the sale of Adam Armstrong last summer, and with the prospect of losing the club’s top scorer for the second successive year, with Ben Brereton moving into the last year of his contract, it is an area that Mowbray feels must be prioritised.

At a time when Rovers are requiring direction they are about to lose a man who has been a face, a figurehead and a stabilising force, providing a platform from which to build. The club, squad and fans have come to know what to expect from Mowbray.

However, the fear of the unknown, and simply keeping the status quo intact, is no reason to stick with a manager, and there has to be some responsibility taken for a run of form that needed only to be slightly better than that expected of a side battling relegation to ensure a top six finish, yet still they have fallen short.

Rovers have talent, they have promise, but it is a mentality shift that is most required, and maybe a new voice can provide that.

That shouldn’t contradict the view that Mowbray has left the club in a better position than in which he found it, the mood around the place testament to that, even if his departure sits alongside uncertainty.

The belief that Mowbray has helped take the club forward in his five years, that there is the need for a change and a fear over the future don’t have to be mutually exclusive arguments.

The manager himself has a view on who his replacement should be, one with a willingness to focus on player development and build on the work that is already in place. 

Whoever that may be will have the core of a team to build from, supplemented by the ongoing excellence in the Academy ranks, though the calibre of player able to be recruited around them, at a time when key players will be moving on, will again hold the key.

In the previous three seasons, thoughts to the future have long been cast by this stage. The hope was that this year would be different, and it definitely felt that way as 2022 shaped up to be the most exciting since the League One promotion campaign.

But what the future may hold has continued to be a narrative running alongside this season.

While Mowbray’s focus on his family may well have seen him turn down any contract offer should it have arrived, to not even approach him over the prospect of one makes you wonder what was wanted from him?

Maybe it was simply a case of the club waiting to see how the season as a whole panned out, and it is undeniable that 2022 has been a real disappointment, but over the piece, can the owners have expected more?

Yet it was better to have savoured the feeling of that six-game winning run, and the standout moments of watching an Academy-dominated side catapult themselves into contention, than to meander along in mid-table, even if that heightens the disappointment of what an opportunity Rovers have missed.

The January window may be seen as such, Bournemouth going all in whereas Rovers held firm to what they had. History could react more favourably with the buys of Dilan Markanday and Ryan Hedges and their future importance to the club, but on the whole Rovers largely stood still at a time when they needed to make a leap.

Bournemouth have hardly torn up the league since January, facing a fight on their hands from Nottingham Forest to clinch the final automatic promotion place, but were too strong for Rovers on the day.

Phil Billing drifted around the pitch at will throughout, creating the opener for Dominic Solanke to run through and score in the 21st minute, before two of his own in the final quarter sealed the deal.

The highest crowd since the League One promotion party against Oxford United in 2018 saw Ben Brereton denied three times with the score at 1-0, chances Rovers had to take.

In the first half he hit the outside of the post when played in by Darragh Lenihan, while good work from Hedges and Joe Rothwell created opportunities in the second half, though twice Mark Travers was equal to them at his near post.

Maybe concerns about the future direction are misplaced and plans are afoot that will see positive changes to move the football club forward. These are questions that now the destiny of the season has been decided can hopefully receive some answers.

The top six is gone, Mowbray and others will soon be too, but Rovers will remain a Championship side next season.

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