January 31, 2010
The Hammers Hoodoo has officially ended. Ok, it was only a point but for too many years, I have ventured down the District Line to the Boleyn Ground only to witness a West Ham revival take place just at the wrong time. It is uncanny that we always seem to play the bubble blowing brigade at a cross road in their history. This has taken the form of new owners or a new manager being able to get the best out of his team and crowd. But yesterday there would have been more atmosphere on the moon.
The arrival of the 'Double David's' did nothing to wake the masses or the team. Indeed Rovers should look upon this as 2 points dropped. West Ham were very poor and predictably it took Rovers 70 minutes to realise that they should be winning comfortably. Up until that point we took part in a game of head tennis and relied on Kalinic to fight a lost cause up front while he relied upon support from the midfield which did not materalise. Then enter Mr Keith Andrews!
January 21, 2010
Before yesterday, the last occasion when I felt overwhelmed with pride to be a supporter of this famous old club was after the epic cup semi-final against Chelsea 3 years ago. Against the odds, the team had come within a whisker of beating the best team in the land (as was) and reaching the first Wembley Cup Final.Yesterday evening was one of those rare moments when the heart beats a little faster and the nerves tingle a little longer.
It has not been an easy time for anyone who holds the club close to their heart, but last night will have appeased many, temporarily at least. The team showed that they have a reasonable level of ability and talent who can take the game to the opposition, given the opportunity. Kalinic grows in confidence and matures with every game played. I said many weeks ago that he could prove to be a shrewd investment. I will go further and predict he can be the future of the club.
January 18, 2010
If you say something long enough and loud enough and often enough then maybe someone will listen and believe it. The fact that Allardyce finally listened and acted on the wishes of 20,000 loyal patrons is belief that he may be more of a football pragmatist than we give him credit for.
Changing a defensive, damage limitation philosophy into an attacking one may not be as revolutionary as believing the Earth is round rather than flat. It did however change the expressions on the faces of those present at Ewood yesterday. It was not a classic performance but it was a vast improvement on what we have witnessed recently. It was a joy to see youngsters attempting to run at the Fulham defence with a carefree attitude and if Sam does ride out the current wave of uncertainty, he may look back to this time and say, "Told you so!"
Junior Hoilett, Martin Olson and Nikola Kalinic, given time, could turn out to be the Duff, Dunn and Jansen of this new decade. Much criticism has been placed at the door of the under achieving, over budgeted academy for not producing but maybe there are green shoots which can blossom into first team perennials. (even if two of them were not technically home grown)
One swallow does not make a summer but it was such an improvement than seeing our only outlet as being a Pedersen long throw. There were times against Villa that he resembled a Norwegian waiter, with that cloth drapped over his arm, more suited to serving cocktails than providing service for the forwards. Instead we had a semi lively Benni intent on making his mark and adding some variation that we have been desparately missing.
It has to be all out attack against Villa on Wednesday. Di Santo, Kalinic,and McCarthy must all start up front and be given license to interchange. If Dunn is fit, he can provide support coming from deep. I would even consider playing three at the back! Why not? There is absolutely nothing to lose, and if we do and go down fighting, the nation may consider us and Sam in a new and more positive light.
January 13, 2010
According to this morning's Daily Mirror, Big Sam has just 2 games to save his Rovers managerial career. A combination of abject performances, negative tactics and frosty relationships developing with some senior players and directors have apparently hastened the chances of an acrimonious divorce.
Ultimately, it will be the fans who will force either a tactical revolution overseen by the present incumbent or demand the ultimate sanction. Even more shocking than the performance on Monday night were the numbers in the Rovers contingent. Some estimates put the figure at 450 for a game which is less than 30 miles down the road. It was below freezing and on TV but I am scraping the bottom of the excuse barrel. Equally, ticket sales for the Villa Semi tomorrow are described as "poor" by some officials at the club. The faithful are clearly not amused. But why do find ourselves in this situation?
January 10, 2010
The country has been in temporary hibernation this week. Images of snow drifts and sledges have provided the nation with an impromptu trip down memory lane to a time when life appeared simpler. There were certainly postponements many moons ago but these were not necessarily the result of slippery pavements and problems in the car park. Before under soil heating became the norm and a prerequisite for top flight clubs, the safety of the travelling public was something of a passing thought as long as the field of play was deemed fit.
I remember many times in the 1980's struggling the 5 or so miles to Ewood in blizzards expecting matches to be called off at the 11th hour, only to see the timeless introduction of the orange ball. One game against City springs to mind in '84 where there must have 3 inches of snow on the pitch and much more off it. Harmony on the terraces was a rare event in the mid 80's but the two sets of supporters (maybe taking Paul Macca's lead from the Pipes of Peace video !) decided that a friendly snowball fight, rather than a fist fight, would sort out local pride. It was like something out of It's a Knockout!
January 2, 2010
The dawn of the new decade has been heralded as a chance to forgive and forget some of the mistakes of the last 10 years and to look to a brighter future. For all Rovers fans, the immediate future is one of uncertainty and insecurity. The defeat today in Part 1 of the Villa trilogy was largely expected and less consequential than the result of the 2 legged League Cup Semi to come. I'm sure both managers would have settled on a game of stone,paper,scissors to sort this one out. As for Mr Diouf, cage fighting rather than football was the name of the game!
Rovers have been mediocre at best over the holiday period. The first half against Sunderland was appalling. It is the time of year where we can become nostalgic and sentimental and the faithful were racking their brains as to when the football played at Ewood has been as frustrating and uneventful. Only those of a vintage age on the Riverside could pinpoint such occasions. Indeed rarely will there have been such a groan in a ground when a fourth official reveals there is only one minute of added time to play and the discontent was not because the crowd wanted the hlf to be extended!