soccernet blog
Blackburn Rovers
August 30, 2009
Posted by Marcus Tattersall on 08/30/2009

Down the years, Rovers' followers have become immune to the adverse media coverage the club sometimes receives. In '95, we did not win the league but United lost it. In the middle part of this decade the name of the team was temporarily changed to BBBRFC (Bully Boys Blackburn Rovers Football Club) by some pundits. There was a season around this time where we were playing some great stuff and challenging for a Champions League spot, but very few took notice. Casting my eye over the Sunday papers this morning, it seems the next wave of Rovers bashing is upon us (Rod Liddle's jibe in the Times being one example). But is it justified?

Yesterday's game was a dour affair with very little in the way of excitement and creativity(except for an unexpected Tugay appearence) but arguably the main remit for the team was to avoid defeat and get us off the mark. If this was the case then job done! I'm not saying I agree with playing 4-5-1 against a team we could and should beat at home but watching football never has or will guarentee thrills and spills.

Alladyce's methods are about as old news as finding out The Beatles have split up! But it is plainly obvious that Big Sam was frustrated with some of the fans' reactions to certain tactical decisions. In his post match interview he told the supporters to"Leave it to me. I'm the expert." At this embryonic stage of the season, I am prepared to bow to his judgement. I just hope those words don't come back to haunt him.

August 28, 2009
Posted by Marcus Tattersall on 08/28/2009

There have been a few occasions this week which have got me shouting at the telly. It was not just the scenes from Upton Park and resulting media hysteria that went with it but also the 'bleeding' hypocrisy that epitomises all that is Rugby. The same old drivel that is always espoused whenever anything remotely controversial occurs within football. "It wouldn't happen in Rugby" or "Why can't football take a leaf from Rugby's book?"are always the default reponses. (That particular piece of literature would make for grim reading.) If an incident like 'bloodgate' had occured with the round ball sport, those holier than thou would again been squeezing football till the pips squeak.

The transfer of Stephen Warnock has also annoyed me. Not the fact that he moved to Villa Park to 'achieve European Football' (hee hee!) but the fact that supporters of both clubs will not find out the true cost of the transfer as it undisclosed. I realise this is a common but increasing tactic used by clubs to hide behind but for the supporters it is yet another example which distances themselves from their team.

I think it should be the rule that clubs reveal transfer fees of both incoming and departing players,particularly if the player in question happens to be one of their prized assets as Warnock was. It would also go some way to clear the air between club and supporters as to how much (or little) there was to find a replacement.So who will be his ultimate successor?

August 24, 2009
Posted by Marcus Tattersall on 08/24/2009

We've started but certainly can't finish! Rovers' season is 180 minutes old and not even the harshest critic would say thay haven't shown the endeveour and created the scoring chances to get something out of both games. At Sunderland on Saturday, lady luck wore a red and white shirt. But a couple of dubious decisions from Alan Wiley was not the sole reason Rovers returned from the North East with nothing.

We had more chances than Peter Mandelson has had to return to Government! But rarely did our strikers hit the target. This will prove to be the downfall to any team in this league. Kalinic, 'The future of Croatian football', was ridiculed for his misses on MOTD but it is far too early to make judgements.However,the name of Grabbi was brought up in conversations as a comparison after the game. Scary stuff!

August 21, 2009
Posted by Marcus Tattersall on 08/21/2009

Being a season ticket holder and travelling up and down the country, I have endured a marathon game of snakes and ladders with Rovers over the past three decades with low points such as the '89 Palace Play Off debacle and incredible highs like '95 and Cardiff in 2002. I know that every fan has an opinion on a whole range of issues.

Some of you may nod in agreement at what I will write in the months ahead, while others could totally disagree with the views expressed. I hope we can create healthy debate with original ideas and points of views on everything Rovers and beyond. Here's one to kick off. I believe Burnley's recent 'successes' will be beneficial to Rovers.

August 20, 2009
Posted by Marcus Tattersall on 08/20/2009

For those of us lucky enough to follow the other 16 sides in the division, Champions League Tuesday, or Wednesday, or whatever day, can become as interesting as listening to the constant 'Will he?' Won't he?' saga of Joleon Lescott.

Clive Tyldseley and David Pleat can quickly become white noise. Indeed there are occasions in the midweek where I am more inclined to look at the latest scores from the Leyland Daf Trophy Northern Section or whatever its title is at the momment.

Because it seems we see the continental stars and teams so frequently playing the 'Big 4' in the Champs League these days, there is a tendency to become apathetic about them as opposed to the old European Cup which seemed to capture our imagination and the players playing in it.

August 19, 2009

Marcus Tattersall has volunteered, writes a great report, has experience, even better, he writes about Blackburn rather than Derby County. Until next season, or the season after, or sometime when promotions and relegations take place, anyway. We'll be back!

Let's see if we can finish with a bang. We finally have Hulse & Commons starting, but Nigel's not changed the back four, Shaun Barker returning to his old stamping grounds on the bench.

We're in black-and-white, they're in tangerine. We've gone straight on to the attack, but offside.

Derby: 01 Bywater 02 Connolly 05 Addison 17 Buxton 21 Moxey 07 Croft 08 Savage
10 Commons 11 Teale 16 Pearson 09 Hulse
Substitutes
13 Deeney, 03 McEveley, 06 Leacock, 14 Barker, 04 Green, 18 Pringle, 15 Varney

Kris Commons looking very sharp as he intervenes, but as they attack, we look wobbly. This game should be full of goals, and we want them all, a win with a clean sheet away.

Commons and Hulse looking as if they know each other, but not that well. Interesting free kick from Kris there, through to Croft, but we lose it through Teale, and they break.

Blackpool: 01 Rachubka 05 Eardley 06 Evatt 15 Baptiste 24 Edwards 04 Southern 11 Vaughan
26 Adam 10 Ormerod 12 Taylor-Fletcher 18 Euell
Substitutes
21 Gilks, 19 Emmanuel-Thomas, 20 Bangura, 25 Almond, 27 Demontagnac, 07 Clarke

First corner to us, not too useful, over the bar. Shortly after, Nigel goes mental as Savage mis-passes, but it's safe with Bywater. A second corner for us, Buxton tackled before he shoots, on and back to Buxton, header for Miles, no power. Rams' fans in good voice.

Kris Commons takes a free kick too early, short, has to re-take, so naturally puts the ball over the top. Kris is now teaching Savage how to pass a ball properly. This is looking a little experimental, Buxton caught in possession again, hesitancy, we should be able to pass - yes, Nigel thinks so too - maybe Nigel's right about the need to focus, they're up for kiss-me-quick hats, fish-and-chip suppers, a few pints, a carton of cockles. Sort 'em out, Nige. They've seen the sea.

27 minutes gone, we've had one shot each on target, we've also had three off, and we're ahead on corners, 2-1, here's the 3rd as Connolly & Croft put the ball in for the defender to head out.

Baptiste's shot clears the bar. Now Bywater beaten, Euell couldn't make the tap-in however. We're under pressure.

Ball through to Taylor-Fletcher. Charlie Adam shot collected by Bywater.

Floodlights starting to take effect.

Kris Commons wins a 4th corner - can we make something of it - no, back to Commons, then goalie.

Savage and Baptiste rolling on the turf together, handbags, a long lecture, no cards.

This is pantomime at the seaside, they might as well be in ladies' clothing - a terrible back-pass by Blackpool goes un-punished, surely if we focus, there are 3 points here?

Two minutes' extra time, Nigel's bouncing, not pleased at all. This is not beach volleyball.

0-0, and it seems both managers are happy. Wait a minute, I thought we had a Clough in charge? Get a grip, get those passes right, we should be able to clean up here if we're going for promotion rather than a naughty night out at Blackpool.

1,303 out of the 8,056 are Rams' fans. The second half is not looking any more promising. Vaughan off for Emmanuel-Thomas 56.

Croft makes one final wild cross, and Nige puts Green on for him. Free-kick for Blackpool from a dodgy throw by Bywater, has to face the shot. Commons stops it where it hurts. Back out, Baptiste hits it curling towards the far corner, and Bywater makes a fine save. Fantastic, but unnecessary Stephen, what were you thinking?

They get another corner, and it's over the top from Baptiste. By now, they've 4 corners to our 6, 5 shots on target to our 1, 2 off target to our 8, which shows the lack of quality. Scrappy is the summary.

Bywater makes it interesting wandering outside his area, but the attempted chip from Blackpool has too much salt and vinegar on it.

Hulse is off, Varney on, 10 minutes left, a point will have to do it seems, unless their Arsenal loanee can pass this well - he does - Emmanuel-Thomas's pass is wasted.

We win our 7th corner, but over the bar from Buxton. We win a free kick, Commons over the bar, I sense this is not the way I wanted to sign out, but an away point is always useful. No wait a minute, we're in the 2nd minute of extra time, we didn't get the free kick, then Addison fouled, and they did, it's a shot that goes out for their 7th corner.

Headed away, and then booted out of the ground.

Goal-less in Blackpool. A great title for my novel, now I have the time to write it.

Hold on, they have an 8th corner, we're scrambling it away, desperate stuff, but it's a clean sheet and an away point. Goodbye. That leaves us in 12th, Plymouth at home on Sat'dy. Newcastle v Owls tomorrow night.

Nigel's satisfied with the clean sheet, says we might have nicked one with Kris getting so much ball, but there we are, Bywater had to make a great save, and we defended their pressure. Not pleased with the passes going astray. One or two players could still come in during the transfer window, and pleased that Roy had a clean sheet for Odense tonight.

Quality finishing? Only if you had the fish-n-chips here..

August 18, 2009
Posted by Marcus Tattersall on 08/18/2009

So the billionaires rolled down the M66 in their thousands (thanks to our benevolent ticket policy) expecting their newly assembled globe trotters to waltz their way through the 90 minutes. Let's be fair, City deserved the victory, but on this display, can you really see them challenging when the daffodils are blooming in Springtime. Having said that, the wild and hysterical celebrations at the final whistle suggested the silverware was already on it's way to Eastlands.

As expected, Rovers were full of energy and aggression(without hospitalising anyone!) but lack creativity which will mean a lack of goals. There is also no pace in the team. Something which has been missing for a couple of seasons. Does anyone know if Usain Bolt has a sibling who can also kick a football straight?

As Roy-of-the-Rams Carroll leaves for Danish side, Odense, Nigel Clough's chuffed at the choices he has for tonight's game at the seaside. Nige, Blackpool have drawn away to QPR, home to Cardiff, who beat Scunthorpe 4-0, and they're still in the Carling Cup, having put Crewe out away. They're doing better than I expected, even before signing Arsenal youngster Jay Emmanuel-Thomas on a month's loan?

"Blackpool are a very good side, as their results early season have shown, and we think they will be particularly difficult to beat at home this season. Bloomfield Road is also one of those grounds that visiting teams won't fancy going to."

Warm, windy, maybe showers up there, so the holiday crowds could be turning up to see us?

"The elements are a factor there and the players need to block all that out when the game kicks off and focus on doing their jobs."

Ian Holloway knows how to build a team? "In Ian Holloway they have a manager who knows his way around the Championship and is already shaping his team into an outfit that gets results."

Pretty much like Scunny? "In many respects, we think it will be a similar game to Scunthope; both teams are attacking, and there will be plenty of chances on the night."

So will the defenders be doing their jobs? "Obviously we need to tighten up our defending, without sacrificing the positive approach we take; we believe that is achievable, and will be looking for that improvement, starting from tonight."

You've a bit more room for manœuvre with more players fit? "We have plenty of selection dilemmas ahead of us as a staff because we now have players back to full fitness or at least close to full fitness who are pushing for starting places. These are problems we want to have!"

OK Blackpool, we'll be out in strength looking for 3 points, you can't draw all your games, we need to get three to up our average to the necessary two per game.. COME ON YOU RAMS!

August 15, 2009

But hey! Hull have scored the first goal of the Premier season, even if Chelsea have equalised before half-time, so let's get at them, Man City & their millions.

Ryan Nelson's knee needs a fitnees test, but forget Roque Santa Cruz, who is still recovering from knee surgery.

OK, so Drogba finally settles Hull in the 92nd minute, and puts Chelsea top, before 3 o'clock. Hull are in the bottom relegation spot. Season over.

Blackburn
01 Robinson 02 Jacobsen 03 Warnock 04 Samba 05 Givet 12 Pedersen 15 Nzonzi
17 Andrews 09 Roberts 10 McCarthy 18 Diouf
Subs
32 Brown, 13 Khizanishvili, 21 Olsson, 11 Grella, 14 Gallagher, 23 Hoilett, 26 Di Santo

Hardly started, & Adebayor is in for 0-1, 3 minutes.
Man City
01 Given 02 Richards 03 Bridge 22 Dunne 28 Toure 07 Ireland 08 Wright-Phillips 18 Barry
10 Robinho 25 Adebayor 39 Bellamy
Substitutes
12 Taylor, 04 Onuoha, 05 Zabaleta, 17 Petrov, 34 De Jong, 40 Weiss, 32 Tevez

Morten Gamst Pedersen free kick on target, then corner played to the near post, save by Shay Given. 10 minutes. Two more corners, but no joy, first by by El-Hadji Diouf, Christopher Samba takes a shot which is saved, then MG Pedersen, easy save. Blackburn have had 6 shots on target, Man City 1, and it's 0-1.

McCarthy shot, Given saves it, now Jason Roberts, wide. 37 gone, Robinho brings a save from Robinson, nothing from the corner by Craig Bellamy as Nzonzi clears. Less than 5 minutes left.

Another corner by Craig Bellamy, clearance Andrews.

Out for half-time, and away again with Lars Jacobsen up there without oxygen, saved by Given. El-Hadji Diouf has a go, clearance by Richard Dunne.

On to the 65th minute, holding 0-1, Jason Roberts, who's done as well as anyone leaves the field to be replaced by Franco Di Santo.

Carlos Tevez comes on for Robinho, 70th minute. 75th Paul Gallagher on as a substitute, replacing Keith Andrews. Still trying to rescue a point, 0-1, definitely not out-classed. By now, Rovers have had 9 shots on target, 6 off, to Man City's 3 & 2.

79th minute, Micah Richards booked, 84th, Stephen warnock gets a yellow too. 86th David Hoilett comes on in place of El-Hadji Diouf.

91st minute Stephen Ireland buries the game at 0-2 for Man. City. Into the relegation zone.

Out again when Arsenal beat Everton 6-1.

29,584 spectators.

Position Team P GD PTS
Full Premier League table
1 Man City 1 2 3
2 Stoke 1 2 3
3 West Ham 1 2 3
4 Wigan 1 2 3
5 Chelsea 1 1 3
6 Fulham 1 1 3
7 Sunderland 1 1 3
8 Arsenal 0 0 0
9 Birmingham 0 0 0
10 Everton 0 0 0
11 Liverpool 0 0 0
12 Man Utd 0 0 0
13 Tottenham 0 0 0
14 Hull 1 -1 0
15 Bolton 1 -1 0
16 Portsmouth 1 -1 0
17 Aston Villa 1 -2 0
18 Blackburn 1 -2 0
19 Burnley 1 -2 0
20 Wolverhampton 1 -2 0

Click on "Continue reading.." for Rams' report.

August 14, 2009

Extracted from the BBC: Anyone else wants to play, 3 points for the correct score, 1 for the correct result. I believe anyone with any interest in the game can do better than Mark Lawrenson: Lawro

Chelsea v Hull (KO 1245)
Verdict: 2-0 Lawro; 4-0 me; actual 2-1 1 point each

Aston Villa v Wigan
Verdict: 2-0 Lawro; 3-1 me; actual 0-2 0 points each cumulative 1 point each

Blackburn v Man City
Lawro's comments:
This will be such an interesting game because there are a lot of new faces for both sides.
With all the fantastic players City have signed, they still need to get used to playing together.
City probably need another centre-back, despite signing Kolo Toure, and it's probably going to be another two or three months before Hughes knows his best team.

Blackburn will have a number of new players making their Premier League debuts, so I think this game will be heading for a draw.

Verdict: 1-1 Lawro; 0-2 me; actual 0-2 3 points me, cumulative 1 point Lawro, 4 points me.

Bolton v Sunderland
Verdict: 1-1 Lawro; 0-0 me; actual 0-1 no change.

Everton v Arsenal
Verdict: 2-1 Lawro; 1-1 me; actual 1-6 no change.

Portsmouth v Fulham
Verdict: 0-2 Lawro; 1-1 me; actual 0-1, cumulative 2 points Lawro, 4 points me.

Stoke v Burnley
Verdict: 2-0 Lawro 2-1 me; actual 2-0, cumulative 5 points each.

Wolves v West Ham
Verdict: 2-1 Lawro 3-3 me; actual 0-2, no change.

SUNDAY

Man Utd v Birmingham (1330)
Verdict: 2-0 Lawro; 3-0 me; actual 1-0, no change.

Tottenham v Liverpool (1600)
Verdict: 1-1 Lawro; 1-3 me; actual 2-1, no change.

David, you'll be preparing a home-coming party for Mark Hughes and his scratch team of millionaires?

"It's important we do our best and kick lumps out of them - fairly of course," Dunn said. "We must be strong and organised. The main thing is we will have to be really aggressive and knock them about a bit. That's what the manager will be asking from our lads. We have to make Ewood Park a place no-one wants to come to again."

Sam, is this riot, sorry is this right?

"A whole group of new players, or five or six new players, is certainly something that causes you a few problems. I've suffered it in the past myself at previous clubs where nine or 10 new players have come in and we've tried to play them all at the start of the season. While they have been very good players, there has been some disruption there. I hope that might be the case against Manchester City on Saturday. If it is, then we have to try and take advantage of that."

Sam, David Dunn says "I think it is a good time to play City. Unfortunately we don't have the same resources. But what we do have is an even level on that pitch and as soon as the lads cross the white line the money doesn't really matter. It's about how much you want it."

Sam, I thought there would be a home-coming party for Mark Hughes? "Everybody will expect success instantly at Manchester City, that's the pressure they have got to live with. For us it's about trying to spoil their party, being that they think that they can come to a place like Blackburn Rovers and beat us comfortably with that kind of spending. We're certainly going to go all out to make sure that's not the case"

So it's going to be a kick-fest rather than a goal-fest? How's the ref. going to see that? & aren't you going to get their expensive players diving as soon as there's contact? You've said before..

"It just strikes me at the moment that when a player stays on his feet, a referee thinks, 'That can’t have been a foul, because he’s still standing. It doesn’t look like a foul to me, so I won’t give it.' That’s where the frustration creeps in. Players feel they are being denied what is due them and start wondering if there is any point trying to stay on their feet. They inevitably reach the conclusion that, next time there is any contact, they might as well go down. Even if the contact is slighter than before, the inclination is to hit the deck and see what happens."

Let's have a look at these crash-test dummies..

SHEIKH MANSOUR'S MAN CITY BUYS
Robinho £32.5m
Wayne Bridge £12m
Craig Bellamy £14m
Nigel De Jong £18m
Shay Given £8m
Gareth Barry £12m
Stuart Taylor Free
Roque Santa Cruz £17m
Carlos Tevez £25.5m
Emmanuel Adebayor £23m
Kolo Toure £14m
TOTAL = £176m

Yes, I know, but one more day to the Premier, what can you do with the time? Paint the house?

The thing was that my first try with the equipment gave Nigel 81%. Out of a possible 105%, I agree, but it's very high for any manager. I didn't just want to let it loose on Big Sam after the Man City game, so I tested it on an ex-Derby manager, George Burley after the Norway game. I'm still not sure whether the equipment registers bias, but I'm not just measuring an ex-Rams' manager whose Scotland team lost 4-0 to Norway, including Kris Commons - Gary Teale wasn't picked - and ex-Ram Kenny Miller, who earned more than 25% of our Premier points with one kick against Newcastle for 3 points out of 11, there's also Blackburn interest: Norway's Morten Gamst Pedersen

A reminder of the bands which build up the percentage and manager's steps up the rainbow:
1-15% RED the result; most managers can still bear to put this into words
16-30% ORANGE the other side; few circumstances exist where the opponents are forgotten
31-45% YELLOW the reason; we were outplayed by the other side
46-60% GREEN our players, how they performed against the manager's explanations
61-75% BLUE injuries, points given for concentrating on actual on-the-night impacts
76-90% INDIGO the referee and his assistants, points gained for not mentioning, plus praise
91-105% VIOLET manager's gloss to improve feel-good for fans. Purple passages over 100%.

George, thank you for volunteering, just pull that strap tight, breathe normally, whistle start!

"Yep, very disappointing result, erm knew it was always going to be tough, but erm I think [phfff..] whatever could have went wrong tonight, went wrong.. erm when you, when you.." 5%

"analyse it, up until the sending-off, I know, we had probably the better chances, and then.." 7%

"it was very questionable whether it was a deserved sending-off, I don't think the referee would have sent him off if he'd realised he'd booked him.." 7%.. is it jammed? Is this thing on?

"before, because they were both pullin' and then they've scored straight away from the resultant free kick, erm so we've had to change it there.. 10%

"and then they get, you know we're ten men, it was always going to be hard, they scored right on 'Half' half-time.. 12%

"and then I've had to bring Steven Caldwell off for our other centre-half and then put Al Hutton to.. at the back.. and then 'tsa!' Christopher Berra, another centre-half gets injured .." 17%

"so, the worst circumstance, it was a terrible result for us, but nothing's changed.." 17%

"we've two games to play, we need the two wins, and if we can win those two, we can still finish second." 15%. It's going backwards. Hold on, George, I did say this was a prototype.

Talk about your team selection and tactics, while I hold this little lever, which should really be more extended than it is, let me just squeeze these two as well.. "Yeah, pleased, as I say we've come here, we handled the long balls and the balls into the box fairly well, we created, you know, two or three decent opportunities, you know, Kenny Miller, erm Darren Fletcher, Kris Commons had half-chances, but the centre-half, er you know, the sending-off changed it as far as going down to ten men, and then conceding the goal with the very next kick.." 22%, but it's up-and-down. You spent a lot of time with the players after the game, can they bounce back?

"well, we've got two home games, and the two home games if we win them, we can finish second and get in the play-offs, well, that would be a great achievement, so it's not impossible, er we're very disappointed with the result, but circumstances, a number of circumstances dictated that result tonight, so we're certainly not going to get our heads down, we're gonna fight to the end er and er hopefully we can get the two wins in Hampden." 24% Looks as if it's broken, George.

"No, we've got two games left, we'll get six points and second position and hopefully that's enough to get us into a play-off position, so it is er disappointing, especially the result, but whether we lose 1-0 or 4, we're beat, so we get no points, so we've still got six points to try and collect over the next two games." Nope, still 24%, it all seems to be orange, and that's the Dutch colours, we're out of the red, I'll just tap it, no it's gone back into the red, 15%, hang on, here's the ref, try to breathe normally while I have a few words.. Alain, you'll be known as the hamer of the Scots, I see you have an exceptionally high card average and are known to whistle a lot, according to one rating?

"People often criticise me because I come from Luxembourg," Alain Hamer said. "I might come from Luxembourg but they should know that I referee mostly in the top leagues in France and Belgium. But everyone is entitled to their opinion. I am used to it but I don't really want to comment on my performance. I refereed the game between the same two sides four years ago in Oslo when Scotland won 2-1. Funnily enough there was no criticism of me after that game."

George, you've received a fairly sympathetic write-up in The Daily Record.. By James Traynor

IT isn't fair. It just isn't right. What did any of us do in previous lives that was so horrible we should have to be Scots in this one? Whatever our crimes the punishment doesn't fit.

It's too severe, especially as none of of us chose to be Scottish. It's not our fault, yet we are doomed to suffer the most terrible agonies watching the team we love. It's just so bloody unfair and some of us are sick of it. On Wednesday night we wished we'd been born somewhere else. Anywhere. In a tent in the desert to face a life herding goats. A shack in Red Neck, USA and forced to grow up on a fence plucking a banjo. Hell, even a loft above a cheese shop somewhere in France. Right now it is that bad being a real Scot.

You'll still be feeling the pain of THAT 4-0 defeat in Oslo. And you'll be waking up in the middle of the night trying to work out why George Burley picked THAT team and why he made THOSE changes. Unfortunately, it was all too typical of his reign. Burley's time in charge has been punctuated by errors both on and off the field and it was perhaps inevitable a day of reckoning would come. Wednesday was that day. Yet, despite such a heavy defeat which left Scotland's World Cup hopes in ruins, the manager emerged from the rubble to claim: "Nothing has changed."

Sorry, George, but once again you've called it wrong. Just rewind to daybreak Wednesday. Scotland sit second in Group 9, four points in front of main rivals Norway who hadn't won a single qualifying match. Now, fast forward to nightfall, Wednesday. Scotland slumped in third place after an embarrassing thrashing leaving Norway only a point behind and facing the easier run-in. Yet Burley insists nothing has changed and he'd be right, I suppose, if he were on the fans' wavelength and, like them, thinking nothing has changed because once again Scotland will be on the outside looking in when the finals are being played in South Africa next year.

But that isn't what he's talking about. Burley really does believe nothing has changed because the six points his cracked logic tells him we need to secure a play-off place remain available.

Well of course they are but after Wednesday night who among us honestly believes we'll beat not only Macedonia at Hampden but also runaway group winners Holland who have scored 16 goals and conceded only two in seven matches? And even if by dint of some miracle Scotland did win their last two matches, 13 points with the kind of weak goal difference we're likely to have wouldn't be enough to secure one of the eight play-off places.

George, things have changed. The dream has become a nightmare in which everything has altered and I'm afraid it is time to make one more change for the good of the country. The manager has to step down. If he won't do the right thing and quit, the SFA must take the matter out of his hands and make the call themselves. Let's try to get something right before this miserable campaign ends. After Gordon Smith was abused by Scotland fans when he tried to reach his getaway car outside the Ullevaal Stadium the SFA must be aware of the depth of fans' disgust but hopefully the chief executive himself realised this dire situation requires immediate and strong action as he sped away from the humiliation.

Sadly we have discovered on and off the pitch throughout this campaign that we don't have strong leadership around the squad and although some of us have suspected the same can be said of the administration Smith now has the opportunity to prove there is a strength of character within the governing body. He's fond of telling Alex Salmond and the BBC where they are going wrong but will he have the guts to do something about the state of this country's national team? If he has stopped to think seriously about Scotland's diminishing status instead of his own image he'll be asking himself what Burley has done for the nation and he might arrive at the same conclusion as everyone else. Burley has lost it and I don't say this because of what happened the other night.

Since the very first match against Macedonia when we found ourselves down after five minutes, he was making poor decisions and he hasn't stopped since. Players started to doubt him and some deserted the cause but the SFA circled the wagons and tried to blame this paper in particular for flagging up the emerging problems. The people on this paper are desperate for Scotland victories and like all Scotland fans we long to see our national team in major finals. And we should have been certs for a play-off place because Group 9 is the easiest section in the entire World Cup qualifying series. Second place with a decent tally of points should have been a given, even for us.

No delight can be taken in pointing that out because Burley is a thoroughly decent man and a manager I wanted to succeed by leading us into the World Cup finals for the first time since 1998. But the bottom line is he hasn't made best use of his resources, limited though they are.
There is, unfortunately, an absence of evidence to suggest he should be left in place, although if anything, there is plenty of proof that Scotland have nothing to gain by leaving things as they are. Burley is an idealist but managing Scotland's ragtag mediocre squad requires a pragmatism our man doesn't have. We do not possess players talented enough to go abroad and operate a 4-4-2 system let alone 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or whatever that was the other night yet Burley believed we did. Folly. Fletcher, Alexander (holding) and Brown to control the midfield with? Give us peace.

Commons, Miller, McCormack trying to make an impact up front? Did Burley wake up on the morning of the game and think he was managing Brazil? Throughout this campaign he has tried to make his players something they are not. He's ignored their deficiencies and ordered them to play a style which stretches their talents and no doubt also their beliefs into the realms of make believe. By way of contrast look at what Egil Olsen, the Norway manager, does. He keeps it relatively simple, plays to the strengths of his players and gets results.

He is an extremely bright man but doesn't play mind games with his squad. He keeps it simple and that approach pays off although his job was made even easier on Wednesday when Gary Caldwell walked in 33 minutes. The Celtic player had been booked less than two minutes earlier and was booked again when he pulled John Carew's jersey in front of the referee.

Caldwell had to go but did Burley have to take off McCormack, a player capable of stealing us a goal, to get Christophe Berra on? He didn't but that's the change he made and Scotland began to disintegrate. Burley's starting side, this change and others afterwards gave the impression he was grasping at straws and his team were inept. Falling a man and a goal behind to the likes of Holland you can forget it but Norway? Come on, they're very ordinary but Scotland had no idea how to cope with the loss of Caldwell and Norway had the run of the Ullevaal.

This was one of the most depressing Scotland performances ever and with a bit more thought it would have been avoided. That's why Smith should make the change now before we play Macedonia and Holland and if he's smart he'll make a couple of phone calls. The first to Ibrox to ask if Walter Smith could guide us through the remaining matches. Yes, I know he walked out on Scotland when Rangers asked him to return but this is an emergency and he remains patriotic enough to double up on two fronts.

Smith knows how to handle these players and how to get the best out of them - he certainly wouldn't have played such a thin midfield - but if he couldn't oblige the SFA they should then dial Gordon Strachan's number. He's another Scotland fan and he could do a job for us. In fact, we should ask him to take over now and get us ready for the next qualifying series because we've blown this one. Smith or Strachan, the SFA should make the choice and try to get us out of this campaign with at least a degree of credibility. Burley, sad to say, has lost his. To believe anything else would be another serious error of judgment.

August 12, 2009

A scientific instrument not yet allowed by the Football Association, it is designed to protect fans from managers, and vice-versa. Broadly points along the rainbow are built up as below:

1-15% RED the result; most managers can still bear to put this into words
16-30% ORANGE the other side; few circumstances exist where the opponents are forgotten
31-45% YELLOW the reason; we were outplayed by the other side
46-60% GREEN our players, how they performed against the manager's explanations
61-75% BLUE injuries, points given for concentrating on actual on-the-night impacts
76-90% INDIGO the referee and his assistants, points gained for not mentioning, plus praise
91-105% VIOLET manager's gloss to improve feel-good for fans. Purple passages over 100%.

Clearly this is the Mark 1 model, but let's road-test it on Nigel Clough. After all, it was only the League Cup, Carling Cup if you must, and maybe he's secretly pleased that we're out. Nigel, thank you for taking part on this prototype. Are you strapped in? The mike's live. 3 2 1 Whistle.

"We have no complaints, on the night Rotherham deserved to win." BZZZ straight to 21%!

"We just weren't at it; as good as we were on Saturday against Peterborough, we were equally poor tonight." PING 25%, picking up manager's gloss points?

"We made too many errors and too many individuals were not at their best" 34% and steady

"The goals we conceded were disappointing as well, particularly the one just before half-time" 40% "I thought we had our best spell in the final 15 minutes, and certainly our best chances; Jake Buxton with a header.." 43% "..Dean Moxey's long range shot.." 47% "..& Jay McEveley with a one on one all had great chances that could have taken us to extra time." 51%

"Another disappointing element was the early injury to Steven Davies, which definitely disrupted us.." 57% "..it's a tight hamstring, which we will assess over the next few days". 61%

"We will be looking now for a reaction at Scunthorpe at the weekend and it's important to learn and move on from tonight's performance as soon as possible.". 68% 71% 77% 79% 80% 81%! It's into mood indigo, and in dey go to get ready for the next match, the important one.

Remarkable these boffins, the equipment takes in silence on certain subjects, yet why did it stop there? How does a manager reach 100%? 105% Would he have scored so highly if he'd not known about the equipment? Surely no ranting means he's too soft - his dad yelled and hit out when things didn't go according to plan - does the XQ'sO allow for that? Or is it allowing for the subconscious, unstated thought that the League Cup doesn't matter? Needs more data.

Too late, time's up, and it's playing the music for the particular rainbow band: Mood Indigo, a cheerful little ditty, Ella Fitzgerald I believe. Turn the thing off, some-one. XQ'sO off button.

You ain't been blue; no, no, no.
You ain't been blue,
Till you've had that mood indigo.
That feelin' goes stealin' down to my shoes
While I sit and sigh, "Go 'long blues".

Always get that mood indigo,
Since my baby said goodbye.
In the evenin' when lights are low,
I'm so lonesome I could cry.

'Cause there's nobody who cares about me,
I'm just a soul who's
bluer than blue can be.
When I get that mood indigo,
I could lay me down and die.

Warm & sunny in Sheffield for this Rotherham game, and after only 10 minutes it's an unselfish pass from Lee Croft, squared across when he could have shot, but hey! he looked up intelligently! to top-scorer Gary Teale he's a wonder, Gary Teale he's a wonder, he used to be shite, now he's alright, walking in a Derby wonderland for a GOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLL.

Within 5 minutes, the Rams substituted Luc Varney for Steve Davies. The Rams' commentary team noticed it about 5 minutes later, partly because it was quietly done, partly because of their position. Opening Rams: 01 Bywater 02 Connolly 05 Addison 17 Buxton 21 Moxey
07 Croft 08 Savage 11 Teale 16 Pearson 18 Pringle 20 Davies (Varney 15)
Substitutes
13 Deeney, 03 McEveley, 06 Leacock, 14 Sean Barker, 22 Mendy, 15 Varney

Rotherham are lively, not yet likely to be lethal. 3 shots off target, while we've just had one on. 01 Warrington 03 Green 05 Sharps 06 Fenton 25 Mills 02 Tonge 08 Taylor 10 Law 15 Ellison
16 Warne 09 Pope Substitutes
30 Annerson, 12 Joseph, 14 Lynch, 04 Harrison, 07 Cummins, 29 Liddell, 20 Taylor

We've just earned our 2nd corner, they've had their first, now they have their 2nd. A quiet game, a long hanging ball beyond everyone. Footy in high summer. A few minutes to half-time. Wait a minute, tho' this is Derby, Paul Connolly's been booked, and a high ball is missed by us, and they score 1-1. Chants break out "Who are you? Who are you?" & (tune: Tom Hark) "Championship, you're having a laugh Championship, you're having a laugh". Paul Warne scored, Bywater maybe got a hand to it, but once Ellison had put him through, it was easy.

We're not imposing ourselves like, for example Reading, 4-0 over Burton. Still, the Gills are 2-0 up over Plymouth, so it could be worse, and it could get worse. I was hoping we would at least test ourselves against a Premier side, say someone around the level of Blackburn in the 2nd round. Get 'em sorted out, Nigel. A change? Or is it our superior stamina that'll do it?

2nd half, and Robbie Savage penalised for a sliding tackle on the ball, 30 yards out, off the wall for their 3rd corner, which leads to a catch from Stephen Bywater. Pringle up the other end for an offside non-goal. Rotherham play it wide, and then in without being picked up, finally offside fortunately. H'mmm, it's 50:50, I guess we've practised our penalties?

No problem. 65 minutes, and Ellison scores, no offside called as we hesitated. "Who are you who are you?" 2-1 Rotherham. Croft, Pringle Teale, good passing, no final ball.

Ellison's off, rested for the next game, now that this one's won, Liddell's on. Of the 4,345 here 1,550 are Rams' fans. We have a good cross from Croft, but no-one to finish. We're building up the pressure, more steam from mid-field. Teale dummies beautifully, Pringle in for the tap-in, but Rotherham can defend. 10 minutes left. Jay McEveley on for Pringle. Sat'dy's opponents, Scunthorpe are 2-1 up over Chesterfield at home. A long ball from Bywater, headed back, Buxton scores... no, a brilliant save by Warrington. 5 minutes left. We're pushing, but time is the water that builds the steam for the pressure, and it's running dry. Two minutes. A long ball from Bywater again, Moxey, Croft, ball flashes past the goal. Jay McEveley in with a chance, shoots against Warrington's legs. A throw into the middle, keeper's, whistle blows. C U later..

From Stan: For all of Sam's bluster, now is as good a time as any to play ManCity, before all those stars forge a team chemistry.

Maybe all those fat wallets will slow the Citizens down a bit, eh?

As for Derby County, I noticed ManCity correspondent Wallace Poulter opined that an early departure in the Carling Cup would actually be good for Championship squads so they withstand the rigors of the long season better and enhance their promotion/playoff pushes.

Of course! A cunning plan! I noticed they all switched off after scoring, and wondered why..

August 11, 2009

I asked Nigel about tonight's game, and he told me about making oak trees. "Lincoln City were just minutes away from beating us in the first round (last season) but in the end we were just a single goal away from a Wembley final; from small acorns it's amazing what can grow."

Nice one, squirrel, yes I remember being in the lead 1-0 over Man U in the first leg, through Kris Commons, the rest is a blur.. Rotherham is "up north" beyond Sheffield, below Barnsley, in the triangle formed by those two and Doncaster. Further east is Scunthorpe, Sat'dy's away game, west are Manchester & Liverpool, north of them, Wigan, Bolton, Preston, Blackburn, Burnley, yes, even Accrington, Stanley. Thanks for your comments Stan.

However, Rotherham are playing their home games in Sheffield, at the Don Valley Stadium, an athletics stadium which has hosted major UK Athletic events, seating 25,000. Michael Jackson's played there, as have the Stones, & the Spice Girls rather than David Beckham, and it's been used for the championship finals of the British American Football League. Rotherham are there until a new community stadium is built at "home" following the breakdown of negotiations with the owners of their previous home, Millmoor. There have been questions raised about the agreement, and the Football League has stipulated that the club must move back to Rotherham within four years.

The first match Rotherham United played at the Don Valley was a pre-season friendly game against Derby County on 19 July 2008. The game finished 0–0. There were several friendlies held at the stadium before the start of the season. The first official league match was a 1–0 win over Lincoln City on the opening day of the 2008–09 season.

During large concerts, the music being played from Don Valley can be heard up to two miles away in nearby Rotherham. So they're on song and in with a shout, Nigel? "We know tonight will be extremely tough, and last season showed you can't take anything for granted. In our opinion Rotherham are one of the best teams in League Two and Mark Robins has done a terrific job there. He's had to contend with a deduction of league points last season and a late change of ground and changing facilities. The way the team performed against all that adversity is testament to Mark, his staff and the character of the players."

Rotherham had special celebrations for the centenary at Millmoor, built in 1907, but have had to abandon it with a new stand part-complete, and Japanese knotweed on the site, an invasive species. Hey, we all know about Knotweed Forest. Stand up, if you hate Forest... no, no, just joking, love and peace to all, especially near neighbours. Let's stay with hearts of oak tonight.

Meanwhile, up at Blackburn, are we talking rabbit in headlights on the Man City juggernaut, or will all Big Sam's efforts bring points? Nikola Kalinic has completed his move from Hajduk Split after being granted a work permit. Santa Cruz went to City for £17.5m, not much of that has been spent on the team. Lars Jacobsen (Everton), Elrio van Heerden (Club Brugge), Gael Givet (Marseille, £3.5m), Franco di Santo (Chelsea, loan) are the other new faces, with a new first team coach, Steve Kean and Nathan Ellington on trial. Sam's bitched about the players away on internationals, the injuries to David Dunn & Vince Grella, but he's famous for getting the best out of what he has, and if the opening game is a category C in his words, the players are asked to do their best, but don't expect anything out of it.

Sam, you've even been after Benjani according to the rumour mill. Do you have enough now with Nikola Kalinic and Franco Di Santo joining Benni McCarthy, Jason Roberts and Paul Gallagher for the goals? You've said we must hit the ground running at the start of the season or risk another relegation battle. "I don't have any dilemmas. We will play the team I consider to be the best XI against Manchester City, irrespective of what went on last season. What happened last season makes no difference to me, it is what happens this pre-season and what is going to happen on that stupid international friendly week."

How about Jerome Rothen? "Jerome Rothen is of an interest to us, but he is a left sider and I don't feel as though we need strengthening in the wide positions. Left and right we are pretty strong. Brett is on his way back, we have Dioufy, Elrio, Morten, young Junior who looks bright. From that point of view I don't think that is a priority."

OK, so here we are in that stupid international week, and Sam's happy about his wide boys. The staccato signing of Nik Kalinic of Hadjuk Split has cheered him too, now that he has his work permit, an entirely justified decision, Sam? "He should be allowed to come and express his abilities in this country and show what he can do. He has a terrific goalscoring record. He is only 21 and scores one goal every 1.6 games. That is why we have forked out as much money as we have."

Well, that's a stat we can check, and a few cheques building up to as much as £6m to split..

Sam, after the Christian Vieri saga, you're not really going after tough-tackling nearly 34-year-old - in October - Miguel Ángel "Míchel" Salgado Fernández, married to Malula Sanz, daughter of former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz? Get Real! He's seen the weather forecast for Blackburn after October, and his wife has told him where she won't be around Christmas and New Year. & he's not ready for our Red Tops tearing him apart as the top four slip goals past him, he's more used to the adulation of El Correo Gallego: Uno de los pilares fundamentales en la defensa del Real Madrid nació en As Neves, Pontevedra, en 1975. El jugador merengue Miguel Ángel Salgado Fernández, conocido por toda la afición futbolística como Míchel Salgado, empezó a jugar al fútbol cuando tenía seis años en un conjunto de su barrio, el Cristo de la Victoria, teniendo claro ya desde niño que su futuro estaría muy vinculado al mundo del balompié.

Rough translation - Spanish is only my 6th language - One of the cornerstones in Real Madrid's defence, Michel was born in Pontevedra in 1975. The player Salgado Miguel Angel Fernandez, known by all football fans as Michel Salgado, started playing soccer/footy when six years old in his neighbourhood, the Cristo de la Victoria, having already made it clear that the children playing would be linked to international football in future.

August 8, 2009

Er, this is the Blackburn site? Yeah, well, they just had a friendly, which wasn't very, they could only score through Zurab Khizanishvili, and that was an own goal, adding to Dundee Utd's first-half lead of 1-0. More injuries to Chris Samba, Paul Gallagher and Ryan Nelsen made the coming clash with Man City look like an uphill climb. At least Robinson saved a penalty, but Di Santo dragged a decent chance wide. ROVERS: Paul Robinson (Jason Brown 46), Phil Jones, Martin Olsson, Chris Samba (David Hoilett 35), Ryan Nelsen (Zurab Khizanishvili 17), Stephen Warnock (Jonathan Flynn 69), Elrio Van Heerden (Marcus Marshall 78), Paul Gallagher (Aaron Doran 17), Franco Di Santo (Nick Blackman 72), El-Hadji Diouf (Jason Lowe 78), Benni McCarthy (Jason Roberts 80) DUNDEE UNITED: Nicky Weaver, Andy Webster (Johnny Russell 46), Darren Dods, Scott Robertson (Ryan McCord 80), Danny Swanson (David Robertson 69), Prince Buaben, Morgaro Gomis (Craig Conway 63), Mihael Kovacevic, Andis Shala (Jennison Myrie-Williams 74), Paul Dixon (Sean Dillon 63), David Goodwillie (Garry Kenneth 46) SUBS: Stevie Banks

Sam, you've lost 8 of your squad to international friendlies? "That is the most diabolical thing we all have to put up with. It gets more and more bizarre when things like this happen, but there is little us managers can do about it. Apart from keep telling them we are the experts and not them and to listen to us. We will help the Premier League be the best and continue to be the best in the world. But in terms of playing friendlies and then having three fixtures the week after – they are trying to ruin it for me. But we will have to cope with it. I know everyone is going to say we are all in the same boat but that is not the answer. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Enough of that, two great managers and sons of great managers met at Pride Park:

The ref.'s whistle blows and away we go, with Posh in green-and-white kicking off. At last, we can put the friendlies and the cricket behind us, and with three minutes gone, we have the first corner. Bobbling around, Buxton in there, out it goes to Teale, who puts it back in, Green then Buxton back across goal, and it's Miles Addison GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLL!

1-0 after 4 minutes, headed in by Miles, crept in to finish off at the far post, now hobbling a little after a collision with their goalie, but he's shaking it off. The first goal in the Championship, as the first game last night finished 0-0, Middlesbrough - Blades a point each.

Pearson surges through, passes to Steve Davies, just away from him in a goal-scoring position. Steve - not Stephen Pearson - is the only striker on paper, as we play 4:3:2:1, but it's clear there are plenty of players who fancy their chances in front of the woodwork. Plymouth get the 2nd goal of the Championship a minute later, at Crystal Palace.

A 2nd corner, and we're looking dominant right now, a phrase I hardly dare use after last season, never mind the one before. Teale through to Davies, who heads wide. Bywater Connolly Moxey Buxton Addison Croft Teale Green Pearson Davies subs Deeney McEveley Commons Varney Pringle Mendy O'Brien - yes, 7 subs now allowed.

Peterborough looking nervous at the back, we're looking dangerous in the best sense. As I sit back satisfied, Posh score, but it's ruled out for offside. Back up and Davies cracks one over the top. Meanwhile, in the might-have-beens, Norwich, not us, are already 3-0 down in League One, home to Colchester. Scunthorpe, next week's opponents away, are 1-0 down to Cardiff. Croft has a shot, gets a corner.

Posh: Lewis Williams Morgan Zakauni Lee Coutts Keates Rowe McLean Boyd Mackail-Smith. A free kick for them, Zakauni heads wide. 10 minutes to half-time, they're coming through again, Boyd shoots wide fortunately. Morgan hits one minutes later from 45 yards out, wide. First booking, Dean Keates.

Croft & Green trying to find a scoring chance, and get our 4th corner, a poor one from Croft. Norwich 0 Colchester 5. What's the recipe today, Delia? Leicester are 0-1 home to Swansea.

3 minutes extra time. Zakauni puts out for our 5th corner, a better one from Croft, Davies heads it to their big goalie, Joe Lewis. One last corner, no.6 from Teale, Green shoots over the top, half-time 1-0. Posh are only one goal down, but not dead yet, 'tho they're only ahead in terms of fouls so far, 7-4, and one booking to nil. They've not yet had a shot on target, we've had three, yet confidence in our beloved Rams with Nigel Clough in charge is not yet so high that it's celebration time. Three points to start would be the best start in years. '01/02 we beat Blackburn 2-1 in the Premier on August 18th, '02/03 we beat Reading 3-0 in the Championship, August 10th, since then it's been all defeats except for Brighton, a draw 1-1 on August 6th in '05/06, Saints 2-2 August 6th (Sunday) '06/07, Portsmouth 2-2 August 11th in the Premier '07/08. Last year back down we lost to Doncaster 0-1, Sat'dy 9th.

Anyway, a nice hot pie, and it's Kris Commons on for Paul Green in the 2nd half, earning our 7th corner. An 8th follows shortly, the pressure's still on, especially down the left.

Posh are putting on Frecklington for Keates. Their other subs are McKeown Martin Pearce Diagouraga Day Batt. It turns out Green is suffering from a bruised foot, and just played the first half. Coutts shoots, Bywater watches it go wide. Commons in the area, bundled off. Corner number 9 for us.

Buxton booked for a challenge on Mackail-Smith. Batt's Posh's 2nd sub coming on for Rowe.

Davies put in by Kris Commons, hits the side netting from an acute angle. Mackail-Smith robbed of a shooting chance by Moxey. McLean gets his shot in, and Bywater has to save. Mackail-Smith has the next one, fairly easy for Bywater. 1-0 still looks somewhat shaky.

Free-kick in by Commons comes to nothing. Captain is Connolly. Another great save needed from Bywater, Frecklington close. Coutts takes Posh's first corner, well wide the final shot. Nasty tackle from Batt, Pearson takes the free kick, it fizzles out. Batt booked.

Commons brought down in the penalty area, but nothing given as the majority of the 33,010 yell for it. Leicester equalise, then go ahead of Swansea 2-1 [through Steve Howard? Well no, he missed a penalty, but at least made the final pass for N'Guessan to score the winner].

10 minutes left.The Reading Forest game is the only goal-less game so far today. Ben Pringle on for Lee Croft, and has an early shot, cleared by their defender. Oh no, Bywater's out of his area, and brings down their player - it's Batt - for a penalty, Boyd the white Pelé left-footed into the corner of the net, 1-1. No need for that, Paul Connolly could have dealt with it. Batt & Boyd.

We have another corner, our 10th I believe, a lovely one from Commons, it's not cleared yet, Teale GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

4 minutes from the end, sweetly symmetrical in summer sunshine with the first goal, 2-1.

Another corner for Posh, once Jay McEvelley is on for Steve Davies, who comes off puffing his cheeks out after playing his heart out, doing the job instead of Hulse, and Moxey heads away. 5 minutes extra time. Forest are down to 10 men, hanging on grimly to 0-0. Yet another corner for Peterborough.

Kris Commons in the area, shoots, Lewis scrambles it away, back up the other end, they're getting close, "Get Out" shouts a strident supporter, and Bywater claims. Whistles to invite the ref to blow, less than a minute, Posh still attacking, Boyd passes, Buxton clears. Mackail Smith, Moxey puts it out for another corner. Addison clears, back in, and finally the whistle, 2-1 3 points. UP THE RAMS! We'll be playing the bottom club next Sat'dy after Scunthorpe lose at Cardiff 4-0. Leicester have also won 2-1, Bristol will finish above us, winning away 2-0 at Preston, no wait, it's 1-2, and Preston get a very late penalty, 6 minutes of extra time, draw 2-2 and we're top 6 already, with West Brom Newcastle still to come.

Rotherham on Tuesday in the League Cup, first of 3 aways, Scunthorpe and Blackpool also in the next 10 days.

Jake Livermore, mid-fielder from Spurs will be here on loan, and we may bring in a few more yet, as the Premier season gets closer.

Down in League 2, Rotherham have played a goalless draw home to Accrington Stanley, then scored in the last 5 minutes, we'll have to sort them out earlier than that, while Sven's Notts County have beaten Bradford 5-0, Shrewsbury 3-1 over Burton Albion and Torquay 2-0 over Chesterfield.

"We've come back, after getting a kick in the teeth" says the Savage, and that's the summary - once again, the Rams can't do it the easy way, but this time we got all the points. There's only 3 teams with 3 points, so we're 2nd equal with Leicester. COME ON YOU RAMS!

August 7, 2009

Seems to me Nigel Clough saw Nathan as a Paul Jewell man, and used him only twice, and then as a substitute. I had been impressed by him back in '02 when he helped Bristol Rovers knock the Rams out of the FA Cup with a hat-trick when we were in the Premier.

He signed for us in '08, a season loan from Watford, expecting a free transfer at the end, and scored a hat-trick for us against Lincoln in the Carling Cup a year ago. He scored away against Norwich to help us get the six points by October - home and away wins against the Canaries - which ultimately kept us up last season, and against Stoke in the Carling Cup quarter-finals, to put us into the semi-finals for the first time since the 60's. Thanks Nathan, but no thanks was Nigel's view. How does Big Sam see things? Differently?

"I like to try and resurrect somebody. This is a lad with a huge amount of talent and has a really good CV from his time particularly at Wigan. He's only 28 so whatever went wrong, if we can put things right we'll have a real player on our hands but he has to prove it in the few days he is with us."

Best of luck, Nathan.

For those readers who follow the Rams, there'll be a "39 years ago" walk down memory lane for both teams, then a link to the extended entry which is about the Rams mostly. I've chosen that season as the Sat'dy playing dates are the same. Blackburn start away to Watford in the old second division on August 15th 1970, the Rams away to Chelsea in the first division.

Derby had first played in the now-defunct Watney Mann Invitation Cup, beating Fulham 5-3 on August 1st after extra time, 3-3 after 90 minutes, then Sheffield United 1-0 on Wednesday 5th, and Man Utd in the final on Sat'dy 8th, winning 4-1 in front of 32,049 at the old Baseball Ground. Father of Clough had been in charge since '67.


August 6, 2009

di Santo's early present was sent down the chimney, then he listened for the applause, but eavesdroppers seldom hear good of themselves & Yves Ma-Kalambay could match him in the fancy names competition, as well as being able to save hard headers from less than a yard away.

Yeah, I know, it's a long weird sentence, but it was 0-0 against Hibs last night, so I have to work with what I have. Rovers were dominant, it was only a friendly, Benni McCarthey was out with a twisted ankle, and Franco linked up with Jason Roberts as if they knew each other.

Yves Makabu-Makalambay, born 31 January 1986, is Belgian with parents from the Congo, and had to use his near two meter height to keep out Pedersen's shot in the first two minutes. Morten Gamst Pedersen also brings a fine name from Norway, and his dipping free-kick into the top corner brought a no-way José acrobatic save from Yves to set the scene for an absorbing battle, friendly or not. Franco couldn't connect with the resulting corner, and when he hit his hard header soon after, Yves was up for it.

This was the full work-out before the first game with Man City: Robinson Jacobsen Samba Khizanishvili (sub Nelsen 63) Olsson Gallagher (sub van Heerden 83) Nzonzi Andrews (sub Doran 68) Pedersen Di Santo (sub Hoilett 63) Roberts attended by 5,563 loyal Rovers fans.

Speaking of great names meeting each other, this was not quite the bar scene in Star Wars, but Hibs' best player was Moroccan Merouane Zemmama born October 7, 1983, whose first club was Raja Casablanca. A lovely run from him was stopped in its tracks by Rovers' Zurab Khizanishvili (Georgian: ზურაბ ხიზანიშვილი; born 6 October 1981. Ian Murray should have scored from Zemmama's corner, but headed wide.

Rovers kept up the pressure to the end with shots from play, shots from corners, even a gift shot for Jason Roberts from Hoilett after a poor Yves Makabu-Makalambay clearance, but French-Ivorian Souleymane "Sol" Bamba - born 13 January 1985 - managed a sliding clearance. There's another Scottish friendly on Sat'dy, awa' up to Dundee. You can get your granite brick to celebrate their centenary if you get up to Tannadice Park, Tannadice Street, Clepington, Dundee, where the team's known as The Terrors, the supporters, The Arabs: the ArabTrust holds the second highest shareholding. Dundee United played their first game on August 18th 1909 as Dundee Hibernian, becoming Dundee United in 1923.

Arabs? Terrors? Rovers? Juliet? Juliet:
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

Rabbie Burns, can you do better, given the Blackburn rose as your theme?

O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.


As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my Dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.


Till a' the seas gang dry, my Dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
I will luve thee still my Dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.


And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare the weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it ware ten thousand mile!

Stan: If NC won't say it, I will: He's done for the year.

The recovery time for a ruptured Achilles tendon, plus rehab, will be nearly a full calendar year. He won't be the same player upon his return, either.

Quickness and pace will be diminished. His only saving grace is he's 20, so that may help him heal and rebuild. But I don't expect meaningful contributions to Derby County from him any more as a result.

Lower division clubs may take a chance on him at some point, though.

OK Stan, a little grace under pressure is a promising sign from Nigel, but I agree, we're doomed to play Championship footie this season at least. He looked slow and unfit when I saw him warming up at Exeter, and he's history in terms of the potential we saw at one time. Son of C?

"Giles felt something in his Achilles. I think it was a combination of a kick and the way he fell. We'll wait and see what the medical people say but it doesn't look too good at the moment."

& that happened in the final friendly 2-2 against Stoke. No need to stoke that anymore, Giles will be pottering around for this season. Well, we won't know more until after the op., but even with your sangfroid, we know it's serious and will cost us?

"We'd like to bolster the squad and we've asked about a midfielder and defender. We're still waiting for a decision from a couple of league clubs."


August 4, 2009

Sam's going to be with us until Christmas, anyway, now he's managed to get a couple of likely strikers in. Nikola Kalinic of Hadjuk Split will cost up to £12m, and the Croatian international needs to get some rapid training and familiarisation ready for his first big test - scoring against Man. City. Or Fulham at least. Even the last friendly against Hibs mid-week will be exhilarating and exciting if he's in properly by then. To make sure Sam's smiling when Santa Claus arrives, he's also pulled in Chelsea's Franco di Santo. The baby-faced Argy is in until the January transfer window, possibly beyond, but there's plenty of drama to come before that decision. He'll have to do a lot better than he has at Chelsea, but that's what Sam's good at, eh lads?

Rovers' goalie Mark Bunn is going to sharpen his skills with the Blades, covering for Paddy Kenny, who's waiting to hear what happens when you fail a drugs test, so the loan is just for a month initially. Any good puns about Blades and Bunn, on a postcard please; we've exhausted the burn, black, bun in oven theme, so steel yourself for new ones.

Otherwise, sense from Stan: "I like those moves by Big Sam. It will be interesting to see what di Santo and Kalinic can do. Portsmouth has to be wincing, though, because I've read several reports about Hart really fancying Kalinic."

Hi Stan! I see you're American from your singular use of Portsmouth.. we would say they "have to be wincing.." Did you see that Chelsea finished the World Football Challenge with a 100 per cent record thanks to a 2-0 victory over Club America in Dallas? The Blues followed up successes over Inter Milan and AC Milan with a confident performance against the Mexicans.
They secured the win with two goals in the second half from Franco Di Santo and Florent Maloud..

Any idea how Club America rate?

August 1, 2009

Mr. Roderick,

I personally do think you have a serious mental problem in differentiating the clubs on blog... this is a blog for blackburn rovers fans like me, (all the way from Asia...) so please stop writing about your distasteful derby f.c. related news in here... you should not mistaken for premier league football with... god knows where derby is now... so ya, get a life and buzz off!!!
The Rams fielded Bywater Connolly McEveley (sub Barnes 77 sub Mendy 90) Green Addison Savage Teale Pearson (Pringle 85) Buxton Davies (Commons 68) Moxey

Joke/Stoke (my son calls them that, he's an Arsenal supporter, so from his lofty perch...) had a lucky first goal deflected off Jay McEveley 0-1, then the Rams were more than a match before Pearson headed in the equaliser early in the 2nd half. Jamaican international Ricardo Fuller came on, and scored 6 minutes later, 1-2. Barnesy was stretchered off, and Moxey came on, performing an acrobatic shot in for the equaliser in injury time, 2-2. Next game counts, this was promising, but the injury list worry hasn't gone away just yet, and Barnsey's potential, and sales value, are not improving.

Report on Blackburn's game vs. the Owls follows.

ROVERS: Paul Robinson, Lars Jacobsen, Gael Givet (Morten Gamst Pedersen 46), Steven Nzonzi (Alan Judge 85), Chris Samba, Ryan Nelsen (Zurab Khizanishvili 88), Jason Roberts (Elrio Van Heerden 85), Keith Andrews, Benni McCarthy (Paul Gallagher 46), El-Hadji Diouf (David Hoilett 71), Stephen Warnock (Martin Olsson 87)

SUBS: Jason Brown, Aaron Doran.

WEDNESDAY: Lee Grant, Tommy Spurr, Lewis Buxton, Darren Purse, Marcus Tudgay, Seam McAllister, Leon Clarke (Akpo Sodje 9) (Luke Boden 67), Richard Wood, James O'Connor, Jermaine Johnson (Etienne Esajas 46), Michael Gray (Francis Jeffers 65)

SUBS: Mark Beevers, Frank Simek, Richard O'Donnell,

Rovers looked dominant for a while, and scored as early as the 6th minute. Lee Grant fumbled El-Hadji Diouf’s corner under the challenge of Steven Nzonzi and skipper Ryan Nelsen was left with a tap-in, 0-1. On 21 minutes, the Owls looked out-classed, as Roberts was sent down the right by Diouf’s through ball, and jinked inside, then outside, before hitting a shot into the top corner, 0-2.

Maybe Rovers turned off, maybe the Owls felt they weren't that bad, whatever, as Wednesday began to come through, until Sodje slotted past Robinson after being sent clear by Jermaine Johnson’s through ball, 1-2. Nzonzi won a penalty, but Diouf hit a soft one, and Grant scrambled away both that and the rebound. Tho' Morten Gamst Pedersen hit the cross bar on 50 minutes with a free kick, the second half was much quieter, withy multiple changes, and guess who equalised for the Owls? Ol' Rams' favourite Marcus Tudgay, volleying a ball that came nicely to him. 2-2.

Peterborough visit the Rams next Sat'dy 8th, as reality bites. Posh have beaten Oxford today, 3-0.

Blackburn have their home friendly against Hibernian on Wednesday night, as their season doesn't start until August 15th, home to Man City.