Rovers got their season up and running with an opening day win in what was Jon Dahl Tomasson’s first match in charge. Here are a few things spotted from the QPR victory.


Touchline role: Tomasson patrolled the touchline for almost the entirety of the game. His instructions were largely done through hand signals, as they were in pre-season. His calm demeanour off the pitch looked to transcend onto the touchline, only returning to the dugout to speak with assistant Remy Reijnierse who didn’t leave the bench. Reijnierse does however take a close look over the pre-match warm-up, albeit from a distance.  

Short corners: John Buckley was the man entrusted with Rovers’ set plays from both the right and the left. Rovers had three corners from either side and mixed things up, with three short, and three direct into the middle. Twice he exchanged passes with Ryan Hedges to work a better crossing angle, while the other saw a return pass from Jack Vale before a lay-off to Callum Brittain at the edge of the box.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Zonal marking: When it came to defending set plays, Rovers looked to be a mix of both zonal and man marking. Daniel Ayala was the ‘free man’ who held his position in a bid to attack the ball rather than focusing on a single player.

Distribution: Rovers seemed very happy to use Thomas Kaminski as something of a reset with back-passes, the team getting into shape and working from the Belgian who made 36 passes in all. Only on 10 occasions did Kaminski go long, with three of those coming in the final six minutes. Those were the only times in which he kicked the ball aerially from a goal kick, otherwise distributing it to the Rovers defenders to start the attacks.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Wide players’ involvement: Where previously Rovers kept their wide players wide, with the ‘false nine’ looking to provide the link from the midfield, they were much more involved here. Brereton touched the ball 52 times against QPR. In the final six matches of last season he averaged just over 31 per game. Buckley was also much more involved from a deeper role from where he can affect the game much more than previously playing as the ‘false nine’ where it was his work off the ball that was mostly utilised. 

Front four flexibility: Tomasson won’t be strict on formation, and while there was a semblance of 4-2-3-1, it was a very flexible approach to the front four. Vale was selected to lead the line, with Sam Gallagher and Brereton either side and Hedges in the No.10 role. But throughout the game there was constant communication between the four out of possession having interchanged when on the ball. Overloading attacking players in one area of the pitch was also a feature of the play.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Hedges was aggressive with his pressing, getting through lots of work, and showing a different side of his game. At times Rovers would be happy to sit off, with the front four players all on the front four ready to spring into attack when the opportunity arose.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Passing: ‘Dots football’ is Tomasson’s description of possession for the sake of it, and not something he’s looking for from his side. What was telling were the amount of cross-field passes played, and Rovers were always looking to take the forward option where possible. They looked to use Kaminski at times as the reset, and sometimes backwards passes were the only option for the full back given the lack of width ahead of them, but otherwise it was moving the ball forward, or across, at every opportunity. Rovers worked the ball across the pitch, but there were plenty of balls into the channels from both Brittain and Pickering, the left back also playing some excellent cross-field passes, as did Buckley to set up a chance for Brereton.

Pressing: At times it was 100mph football, in other junctures Rovers tried to seize the moment to press having previously sat deeper in a block. One thing that was evident was the fact players willing to go with their markers.

When Ilias Chair dropped deep, Scott Wharton would push into midfield with him. Similarly with Buckley and Lewis Travis, they too were happy to track their runners outside of their traditional positions. At times there were situations where Rovers found themselves with four or five players in a condensed area of the pitch. The concern would be the spaces left outside of that, but it would require quick possession from the opposition to be able to play through them.