It’s fair to say things couldn’t have gone any better for Elliot Anderson at Bristol Rovers. In a way, he perhaps exceeded expectations.
With Championship clubs previously interested in taking Anderson on loan, eyebrows were raised when he dropped into League Two on January transfer deadline day.
OK, so Anderson excelling at the Memorial Stadium wasn’t a surprise but the size of his impact maybe was.
When he joined, the Gas were 12th. Fast forward to now and Joey Barton’s side have, in the most dramatic circumstances, just confirmed they’ll be playing in League One next season.
They needed to win 7-0 against Scunthorpe United to seal an automatic spot on Saturday, and that’s exactly what they did. And yep, Anderson fittingly scored the decisive goal.
In total, the Scotland under-21s international scored eight goals and five assists in 21 appearances for Rovers.
We asked BristolWorld’s Jordan Jones about Anderson’s loan spell and his chances of breaking into Eddie Howe’s first-team after the Magpies head coach revealed the 19-year-old was in his plans for pre-season.
Can you sum up Elliot Anderson’s impact at Bristol Rovers?
JJ: “Invaluable. He’s being spoken about as perhaps the best loan signing in the club’s history given the impact he has made in a short space of time.”
Is it fair to say Rovers wouldn’t have been promoted without Elliot Anderson?
JJ: “He scored the promotion clinching goal so in a literal sense yes. He inspired Rovers at times, winning games on his own. Played well in the penultimate game, inspiring them to wing as he set up Aaron Collins.”
He’s been dubbed as the ‘Geordie Maradona’ and ‘Billy Elliot’. What does that say about his impact at Rovers?
JJ: “The Geordie Maradona came from perhaps a quote from Joey Barton that was misinterpreted as he didn’t want to put any pressure on the player. Billy Elliot is a fitting name however, he is an absolute cheat code for League Two, when I saw him play, it was evident he was a player from a higher division and was playing at a quality below him.”
Will Rovers push hard to re-sign Elliot Anderson in the summer, and how likely is it to happen?
JJ: “That’s more likely for Newcastle to decide really. It feels unrealistic that Rovers would be able to re-sign him given the obvious ability that he has and that half of the Championship are reportedly interested in him.
“Howe said himself that he was disappointed he was playing in League Two, so would his opinion really change if he was playing in League One? One benefit though is continuity and guaranteed game time. Anderson would without a doubt start every game possible next season whereas in the Championship, he may not find as many opportunities.”
When, realistically, do you see Elliot Anderson breaking into Newcastle’s first-team? Could he next season perhaps?
JJ: “It is again dependent on what Newcastle’s plans are. Premier League safety is secured so will the bigger contracts come out now for players who will be lining up to join the club? Anderson was highly rated by former Toon scout Graham Carr, who wants him fast-tracked into the first-team and said he possessed the same qualities as Gazza and Peter Beardsley.”
In a world when Newcastle can now splash some serious cash, how excited should the Geordies be about Elliot Anderson’s talents?
JJ: “It’s early days but there is a lot to be excited about given how well he’s done in his first loan spell. Time is on his side and he doesn’t need to be put into their first-team straight away. Come back perhaps after next season, wherever he may be but for sure at this level, he’s exceeded expectations.”