I have never heard of Bristol Rovers’ new loan signing Oliver McBurnie, but I am very impressed that the club has been able to sign him. I do not know if it is a coincidence that the club has signed McBurnie now we have new ownership and new officials and directors, but this is exactly the sort of signing many of us have been crying out for. A young, hungry player from a club in the top flight.
This is not to criticise other players who have joined us permanently and on loan in recent years. Perhaps, managers have been constrained by playing budgets and they have effectively been forced to sign lower league, non league and even unattached players. This is a massive step in the right direction.
For years, we have wondered why other clubs, seemingly operating on minuscule budgets compared to the Rovers, have been able to sign young Premier League players, whilst we haven’t. I don’t want to give it the ‘We’re a massive club’ malarkey and then boast how players should be queuing up to join us, but it has been perplexing to see clubs with relative tiny crowds steal a march on us. Plainly no more.
The ‘young and hungry’ aspect is very important. McBirnie has his career ahead of him. He is not some lower league journeymen coming here for a final pay day and top up to the pension pot. He wants to get on and knows that if he impresses at Bristol Rovers, doors may open elsewhere, not least at Swansea City in the Premier League.
The Premier League itself is overflowing with young players who cannot get a game. Chelsea currently have 28 players out on loan and the figure has been higher than that. Bristol Rovers, under its new progressive and dynamic ownership, must surely be an attractive place for managers to send their young charges. I am sure new performance analyst Will Dubey will bear this in mind as he starts to put in place a scouting network, one that astonishingly did not exist at all until the change of ownership.
I cannot judge McBurnie because, as I have said, I’ve never heard of him but people at Bristol Rovers will be very familiar with him and I hope this signing represents another significant improvement in the way the club is being run. I could not be more impressed with Wael Al-Qadi and his team so far.