"Some hemmin' and hawin' there about Hulse. Interesting. I'm beginning to fear Hulse may have one of those injuries that will cripple his season. If he couldn't heal it up over the off-season, it won't heal with all the demands of the coming season. As for Sam......how bad are things if the Rovers are hanging their hats on a Vieri??? No disrespect to a legendary player, but he's got soooo many miles on his pitch odometer. The Rovers may be saved more by the feebleness of other squads than Blackburn strength." Thanks Stan, perceptive comment.
It's pretty clear that Rovers will be in the position Derby crave next season or the season after - battling to save themselves from relegation from the Premier. While it's not yet clear that the Rams won't have their own relegation battle now, as we tend to expect top ten positioning in the Championship for most of this season, it's also not yet clear how Blackburn can do as well as last season, which was finger-nail-biting anyway.
Yesterday, after Hadjuk Split lost 1-0 to CD Nacional Funchal of Portugal, Rovers took on the winners for a half game with Brown Jacobsen Samba Khizanishvili Olsson Judge Andrews Nzonzi Treacy McCarthy Gallagher. The phrase neither goalie was troubled sums it up. Samba was up there challenging from the corners, but intimidation of goalies is less tolerated on the Continent. Nil-nil.
The second half against Split brought out Robinson Andrews Olsson Dunn Nelsen Givet Roberts Doran McCarthy Diouf Pedersen, with Nzonzi on for Benni Mc after 27. Jason Roberts had the best early chance, but was beaten off, and Diouf put the rebound wide. Up the other end amid flares and fireworks, Robinson was going the wrong way as Bosnian international Senijad Ibricic scored out of nothing after 12 minutes. Rovers looked better as the game progressed, Givet drawing a save off the line just before the end, but Rovers lost 1-0.
Sam, back home to lick wounds, and Leeds next Sat'dy? "I thought the first eleven were very good against Nacional, apart from good crosses going in without creating any chances."
The lack of a good young fit striker or two is apparent already, friendly or not? "Hence the reason we are looking for another front man to add power up there."
Still, it wasn't just that area in the second game, Sam? "I thought the second eleven with the Dioufy's, Jason Roberts, Morten who has only just come back and Dunny, all looked a little jaded to me and we were outplayed by Hadjuk Split in midfield."
He confirmed the goal went in off Ryan Nelsen, sending Robinson the wrong way, but hey!
Sam also used up a whole range of excuses, and revealed that his manager-mouth is not yet fully match-ready for this season: "one of the weirdest goals I've ever seen scored against us.. thought it was a back-pass, Robinson didn't bother diving and there it's gone in the back of the net.. like all games at this time of the year, it's about the work-out.. setback today.. time difference.. hot and humid climate.. I hope that is the excuse that they have got, because if not, then I'm very disappointed in that performance..
Having taken responsibility for man-management of fitness this summer, you'll defend this trip as more than a jolly then Sam? "We've enjoyed our time away, I think overall looking at Cambridge, Roma and Nacional, perhaps not Hajduk, our fitness is looking okay."
OK, contrast that with Man City's preparations to be the billion-dollar team...
Still, as Stan says above, there may be enough feeble teams amongst Hull City, who've just scored 6 against Ferriby Utd., Wolves who won 2-1 over Fury in North Queensland, down under, Wigan, who have signed Jason Scotland from Swansea, and were beaten 1-0 away to Crewe, the Brummies, who have signed a tearful captain Barry Ferguson from Rangers, and who face Dagenham & Redbridge in their next friendly, Bolton, who have just drawn 1-1 with Borussia M√∂nchengladbach, West Ham, who could only draw 1-1 at Cambridge, Stoke, playing the Rams on 1st August, and who have lost 2-1 in Newcastle, and 3-1 to St Pauli of Germany, Sunderland, who lost 4-1 to GATESHEAD yesterday, or surely favourites for the drop, Burnley, sunning themselves in California, getting ready to play VC Fusion and Portland Timbers....
& speaking of the Trees, I pick Forest to struggle in The Championship, but hope we can keep them for the six points they'll give us, much as Rovers should feast on Burnley...