When the late great Jack Walker saved Rovers from oblivion in 1991 his short term aim was to make the club a founder member of the Premier League. His long term aim was to produce an academy that would be the envy of the Europe and produce the players that would eventually make Rovers self sufficient. The first objective was achieved. The second aim was less successful.
The Brockhall Academy has delivered a sprinkling of talent in the last 20 years. Wilcox, May, Duff, Dunn are four that spring to mind. There have also been a handful of youngsters that showed potential but were never quite up to the mark. Rovers fans have always been patient and understanding when a youngster steps up to the plate and Sundayâ€™s performance on his league debut by Phil Jones was both refreshing and riveting.
Salomon Kalou and Phil Jones
We first saw the 18-year-old at The City Ground back in September in the League Cup . He impressed that night but on Sunday was a stratosphere above as he easily dealt with the dual threat of Anelka and Drogba. His performance was even more impressive as he had to contend with Rovers going behind within minutes. Experienced and proven centre halves may have capitulated when faced with the task in hand but his rawness and naivety may have worked in his favour. Sam certainly has a selection headache in the week to come.
It was also a pleasure to see the team compete again against one of the top sides. A few years ago, a trip to Ewood by one of the big four was looked upon by the pundits as a possible slip up which could influence the destiny of the title. Sunday was a trip down memory lane. We defended admirably and did not cave in. Keith Andrews and Diouf were excellent and I don't resent giving the latter the praise he deserves.
The substitution of Kalinic caused a little consternation but I agreed with Allardyce's tactics of withdrawing our star man in readiness of the week ahead with our attention focusing on Birmingham's visit on Wednesday. But let's face it, our minds are elsewhere. I doubt the old clichÃ© of taking one game at a time will have much mileage around the streets of Blackburn this week.