Ian Burchnall's Forest Green Rovers and adapting to life in League One – Gloucestershire Live

Ian Burchnall’s first 10 League One games in charge of Forest Green Rovers: What have we learnt?
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The Memorial Stadium. Saturday, July 30, was where it all began. It was a special day for Forest Green fans, the chosen 11 individuals took to the pristine turf in BS7 to face a Bristol Rovers side with just as much to prove having earned promotion in their own dramatic circumstance.
But it was more than just a game for Rovers fans, it was about those players representing the jersey that has never seen League One football before, led by a manager in his first ever Football League role. Those 90 minutes gave fans that little flutter in the stomach of what could be possible this year. A 2-1 win thanks to a Regan Hendry stunner as the game inched towards stoppage time became the toast on a warm Saturday early evening that gave Rovers their first taste of League One success.
Since that moment, that feeling of elation has been few, and far between. Cup wins over Leyton Orient, Southampton U21’s, and Newport County have offered some much-needed confidence but the 2-1 win over Accrington Stanley in early September gave Burchnall a crucial three points that eased some concerns. Post-match, Burchnall was proud of his players and admitted: "It’s been a tough time with the players that have been missing, but we managed to combat that with some young hungry players that showed some great mentality today."
And those injuries have been a feature so far this campaign. A typical 3-5-2 style that Burchnall implements has had its flexibility tested with the number of knocks sustained so far. Connor Wickham’s signing for Rovers raised a fair few eyebrows in the game, but his career needed a new lease of life. He’s already amassed more minutes in six matches for Forest Green this season than in the entirety of the 2021/22 season in both a Preston North End and MK Dons shirt combined. His involvement this season remains a key cog in the machine despite the uncertainty over his fitness longevity.
This matched with the absence of Jamille Matt and Matty Stevens, who remain sidelined, adds pressure to the former Premier League forward’s shoulders – A pressure he ‘thrives’ upon according to the boss. Rovers have only found the back of the opponent’s net on eight occasions in 10 matches, with three of them coming from the laced boots of Wickham.
A televised 4-0 thrashing against Exeter City saw some sections of the New Lawn become fairly vocal against Burchnall. Football management is an industry for thick-skinned individuals, but Burchnall will be human enough to understand the immediate concern within some of the fanbase right now. But having seen the club win half of the 46 league games last season, it’s natural for supporters to have to lower the expectation that the club won’t win as many games in the third tier of English football.
Instead, it’s more important to focus on beating the sides around you when in the position that Rovers find themselves in. That said, the consequences of a defeat at Burton Albion on Saturday look almost inconceivable.

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