White Hart Lane is quickly gaining the reputation for being the graveyard for Rovers' fullbacks. Last season Martin Olsson was given the run-around by Aaron Lennon. This year it Michel Salgado's turn to wear the clown's outfit as he was embarrassed by Gareth Bale. To solely blame the experienced Spaniard for Roversâ€™ latest bout of travel sickness would be unfair. Only Samba, Givet and the ever willing Kalinic deserve praise on an afternoon when bad habits returned.
Lunchtime kickoffs are never conducive to create an atmosphere inside the stadium. It's that strange time for a supporter after just having breakfast and possibly nursing a sore head from a Friday night out. It's a time when we are more used to setting off for games in anticipation of the 3pm start, or at least it was like that in days gone by. Saturday lunchtime at the Lane was no different. The game resembled a pre season friendly or testimonial and the opening exchanges suggested Rovers were more than capable of achieving something rarer than a parking space in London.... an away win.
Michel Salgado and Gareth Bale
Robinson's innocuous injury, which led to his premature retirement from the game, was not only the cue for the most colourful animated and sympathetic crowd reaction of the match but also for Rovers to completely change their game plan. Out went the adventure that we had seen in recent weeks and back on came the shackles and lack of support for the excellent Kalinic. Whether Robbo's departure psychologically damaged the team remains to be seen but it certainly created more panic and many more aimless balls forward.
Another Spurs expat, Chimbonda hardly covered himself in glory on his return, along with Salgado, he had an afternoon to forget and was arguably at fault for two of the goals. Jason Brown made a couple of decent saves in the first half but was clearly at fault for the second goal. Brown has let nobody down when he has deputised before and I am sure he will get over this blip and be ready when called upon again.
Michel Salgado wrongly suggests that Gareth Bale dived on order to win himself a penalty he should certainly have received but if Howard Webb believed the young England player tried to gain an advantage unfairly, then why wasn't he booked? Consistency is not a word in referee's vocab.
We now look forward, not to our next home game, but to an occasion in 2 weeks time away from Ewood. The fans quite rightly will be demanding more endeavour on that day.
A word on Beckham. Love him or loathe him, and I don't think there will be many in the 2nd camp, the man has carried our hopes and dreams almost single-handed over the past decade and a bit. In his pomp, he was capable of turning a match inside out. We all remember Greece in 2001 when rarely has the term 'one man team' been so appropriate. In 2002, we went mad at breakfast time as his Argentinian demons were finally laid to rest. We all know that this World Cup would have seen him play the cameo role but his presence in the squad would have given it an added dimension and stature just as Ian Botham did for the England Cricket team in the 1992 World Cup at the end of his great career.
So if we have seen the last of the man in England shirt and maybe on a pitch altogether then we should salute the guy and say thanks for the memories.
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