May 30, 2011
The first week of the close season has probably set the tone for much of the Summer to come. Feverish speculation involving players and the manager will undoubtedly continue while many of us take a much needed break well away from the circus that was Ewood Park 2010-2011.Both Chris Samba and Phil Jones's future will come under the microscope as those clubs with loftier ambitions than Rovers look to sure up leaky defences that ultimately led to a lack of silverware in this campaign.
I do fear that one if not both of our defensive giants will not be wearing blue and white halves come the middle of August but the red of Arsenal and Liverpool respectively. It is no secret that the Gooners need a collossus in their ranks and Samba may fit the model that Wenger needs to end 7 barren years without a trophy. Phil Jones on the other hand may be tempted by the overtures coming out of Anfield and wish to be part in King Kenny's second revolution to make Liverpool kings of England once again.
The consolation for Rovers is that both players would command hefty fees given their respective current contracts. In today's market, Samba should command £10 million and Phil Jones who will surely one day captain his country, £20 million. This should mean that there will be finance available to invest in the squad plus money promised by the owners. Priorities are a central midfielder to dictate proceedings (Charlie Adam would be nice) and after a shaky start Jermaine Jones is worthy of his loan deal becoming permanent. We are also in desperate need of a goal scorer with realistic targets being Daniel Sturridge or Peter Odemwingle at West Brom.
Steve Kean's future will come under constant speculation throughout the Summer and if you believe reports circulating in one Sunday tabloid, the owners are at loggerheads as to who should be in charge come the middle of August. Regardless of what Kean achieves, he will always be viewed by many as a puppet of the owners and nothing more than a flying start to next season will keep the vultures away.
Kean does however deserve that chance given the way the side ended the season. There is no doubt he needs to take much of the blame for the position the team found itself in the Spring, but he equally deserves credit for finding the right formula to turn things around when it was required. Kean and the club were on the brink but through tactical awareness and subtle changes he pulled the side back form the precipice.
I have been critical of Kean's media personna and his constant spin and rose tinted glasses approach but hopefully he can use the Summer to learn more about himself, his players and the role and be stronger for it come August.
2010-2011 will always be remembered as a tumultuous and anarchic season. The club metamorphosed from John William's model of calm accountability into a chaotic circus. We went from being much admired to much derided but in the end we survived and start level with another 19 teams in three months time. Those responsible for the shambles of the Winter and Spring must learn the lessons and make sure the shenanigans are not repeated in the future.
Players of the year
Samba and Phil Jones produced individual acts of heroism while Salgado has become a geniune cult hero. David Hoilett showed that pace and ingenuity were not extinct at Ewood after all.
Flop of the Year
Sad to see R.S.C a shadow of the player we loved. Never get back with your ex!
Goal of the Season
We waited 37 games to see a blockbuster fly into net. Take a bow Brett Emerton!
2-0 down to Blackpool at home, facing a real prospect of meltdown on and off the pitch.
Same game, last kick of the game. Hoilett broke Blackpools hearts and gave us a psycological lift we so desparately needed.
Special Award for Outstanding Contribution
The Fans. Despite the turmoil, they never stopped supporting and encouraging in increasing numbers. The owners have recognised this loyalty by only modest increases in season ticket prices.
So that is that. I will be here during the close season to give my thoughts on incomings and outgoings at Ewood and will be building up to new the season from early August. Thanks for all the messages and emails during the last 9 months. See you after the break!
May 17, 2011
In a season which has seen the club somewhat implode on itself, we probably shouldn't be surprised that we woke to negative headlines concerning Rovers on Tuesday morning. I will hazard a guess that a story featuring Rovers has never appeared on the front page of Britain's best selling daily newspaper before. But it did on Tuesday, in the shape of the claims by Gael Givet that he was forced to pay an unlicensed middleman £50,000 for his role in helping the former Marseille star seal a move to Ewood back in 2009. The FA has said they will be conducting an enquiry into the matter but there is no suggestion at present that the club are directly involved in the matter.
Several media organisations were also reporting that Rovers manager Steve Kean had been charged with drink-driving following Saturday's game against United. Although neither of these stories should affect the build up to Sunday's crucial game at Wolves, the club could have done without this unwanted publicity.
May 10, 2011
Robbie Keane has forged a career on scoring goals at vital times for a variety of teams but his glaring miss, two minutes from time at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday has defined this relegation scrap and has all but sent the Hammers tumbling towards the Championship while preserving Rovers Premiership life for one more season at least.
It was a strange afternoon in East London. You could smell the tension in the air as we walked the length of the Barking Road towards Upton Park. Obviously four Lancastrains kept a very low profile making their way to the ground but the conversations all around us focused on a must win game if there was any chance of survival. Rovers fans were in good voice and confident of a successful outcome.
From early on, we were in the driving seat and in cruise control. The team had been set up just right to counter West Ham's only threat which was the long ball. Samba and Givet were outstanding and Jermaine Jones who has proven to be a shrewd loan signing showed further evidence why he should be offered a permanent deal when the season closes. Although we did not offer much threat going forward which has been a familiar theme all season, we were more than comfortable until the wide outlet of Junior Hoilett was forced to retire.
May 2, 2011
A momentus Bank Holiday weekend has seen some quite extraordinary seismic events. On Friday, 2 billion people worldwide witnessed a small family occasion in London while only this morning we woke to the news that the world's most wanted fugitive had finally met his match. Another important 'event' occured on Saturday at Ewood when Rovers finally stopped the rot and gathered in three priceless points which leaves their survival in the Premier League more of a probability than possibility.
With Rovers being the only side in the bottom five to gain anything more than a point on Saturday, the pressure is heaped on the teams below to try to play catch up. I believe with games and points available running out, Rovers may only require a single point to insure another year in the top flight.
It is amazing what a victory at this stage of the season can do for the confidence of a club, players and supporters. The fans have been magnificent in this torrid second half of the season. They appreciate the severity of the situation and what the consequences would be for the club if the unthinkable was to happen. The faithful have been incredibly frustrated, angry and disillusioned at the pantomine that has been played out but have rarely directed their anger towards the players on show.