November 30, 2009
We have had more productive weekends. There was the dreadful blankety blank with Stoke followed on Sunday with an equally dismal cup draw which paired us with Villa. Whoever said romance was dead was foreseeing this particular cup tie! No doubt Sam's love for the cup will manifest itself on Jan 2nd when he gives the first team squad the weekend off to get over the New Year celebrations.
It's good to hear that Sam is recovering well. But he won't have been cheered by the performance on Saturday. The writing was on the wall when Neil Mcdonald ordered the dreaded 4-5-1 to be given the kiss of life. It felt like watching a sequel to a particularly bad film that should not have seen the light of day in the first place.
November 23, 2009
The happy hunting ground which is The Reebok continued to pay dividends yesterday. Rovers throughly deserved the victory against an incredibly poor Bolton side who look destined to wander down to the Championship. With Samba and Nelsen snookering Davies, the performance and manner of the win would have put a big smile on Allardyce's face (and we all wish him well). But it illustrated what a different side we are when we play with 2 out and out strikers.
It is irrelevant what permutation we used, in this case Di Santo and Roberts, the system just allows the team to be more inventive and provide support for the runners from midfield. Dunn was outstanding yet again and Diouff played as well as he has for weeks. 4-5-1...R.I.P
November 19, 2009
It seems to be going unnoticed but the sun is setting on this first decade of the new Millennium. How will history judge the last 10 years? We have loved then loathed Big Brother,winced at the endless conveyor belt of D list celebs 'enjoying' their 15 minutes and got carried away believing the good times would last forever by living on the never never.
When the VIP's finally made it into the Dome on that New Year's Eve a decade ago, few could have imagined that 10 years later, Leeds United would have been drawn to face Accrington Stanley in a consolation cup designed to pacify lower division clubs and offer a route to Wembley. The wider football world has seen significant change. For Rovers however, it has been a decade of consolidation.
The first opposition of the new Millennium were Wolves watched in front of a crowd of more than 24,000 at Ewood. The team was being steered to mid table mediocrity by Mr 'Blackburn', Tony Parkes. Brian Kidd had been fired 6 weeks earlier and the club was 3 months away from aquiring the services of Graeme Souness. Rovers were in the 2nd tier.
Just 4 short years had passed since the ultimate prize had been claimed. But times had changed. The wealth that Rovers enjoyed was now sloshing around and being appreciated by the big city clubs. Many fans felt that their time in the blazing sun had come and gone.
In some ways, this was correct. But there have been many occasions to saviour and some to forget. We have enjoyed promotion, a cup final victory, a season where we flirted with a Champs League position and had fun in Europe. We have also suffered semi final heartache, frequent relegation dog fights and saw some of our more talented players leave just when we were enjoying their presence in blue and white.
The team that started that Wolves game, contained one survivor in Dunn (but he's come and gone and come back again ) and characters which we may have forgotten like Darren Peacock and Ashley Ward. For the record, Egil Ostenstad scored in a 1-1 draw.
It is likely that only the insane would include 'The Egil' in their team of the noughties, but who would make the grade? This is part 1.
November 12, 2009
Another tortuous International break is allowing fans of all clubs to take stock and review the ups and downs of the first quarter of the season. For Rovers followers, the enforced absence of domestic football has come at the worst possible time. If result of the Pompey game was significant, then the 2nd half tactical changes to achieve a victory were earth shattering.
The fans had rightly lost patience by half time with the coach and a turgid and insipid system which had failed to produce a single point on the road this season. The fact that bottom of the league Pompey were playing away from home with 2 strikers only underlines that the formation makes the dour Arsenal tactics of the early 90's appear to be like Brazil 1970!
Sam himself took the accolades and praise for the insightful changes. But the real heroes were Benni and Jason Roberts. McCarthy wants away, and who can blame him? He does not see a future for himself at the club and more than likely will unfortunately move on. Roberts on the other hand is an Allardyce type of player but rarely has contributed when given the chance. Saturday was different and every Rovers fan was delighted for him as we know he gives 100% despite having limitations.
It is incredible to think that if the Pompey result had been different, we would be on the floor of the division with a mighty task to preserve our status in the top league. It is still going to be difficult but if Sam has truly shifted from the dark side, the outlook for everyone will be brighter. The team MUST line up with a positive formation at the Reebok in 10 days time. That means 2 out-and-out strikers.
Team of the 'Noughties'
Unlike the end of normal decades, this one may fade away without a trace or a whimper purely as it does not have a natural end as the 60's, 70's or 80's did. But with only 6 weeks until the dreaded notes of 'Auld Lang Syne' it is worth considering who would reserve a place in Rovers team of the decade. Using the 4-4-2 system (Sam take note!) I will reveal my selections over the International break. Everyone will have an opinion so get thinking whether you would have Craig Short instead of Ryan Nelsen or Matt Jansen in place of Craig Bellamy.
November 1, 2009
Rovers 10th successive failure on the road came as no surprise to anyone. It may not have resembled the debacle of 7 days ago but even Jack Straw who was sat among the faithful in the ghost-like atmosphere of O.T, would fail to put a positive spin on Rovers' recent performances against the Big Boys.
The backline may have been tighter than last week but the support to the isolated Di Santo was largely non-existent and on the rare occasions when the ball found its way to him, he was not able to hold it up and bring in others. Kalinic was unfortunate with a shocking decision but if our only opportunity to create any threat on the opposition goal is from set pieces, then please ,please, please, give someone a try other than Pedersen!