March 22, 2012
The Rovers renaissance has certainly caught the imagination of the national press in recent days. This week's back pages and sport editorials have been awash with opinions and views on Steve Kean and the 'miracle' he has overseen at Ewood. Although Kean does deserve a degree of credit for the turnaround, the a revival in fortunes has coincided with the appointment of Eric Black as assistant manager. Whatever the former Aberdeen striker has brought to the table, it appears to be having an effect.
In the past few weeks, common sense seems to have taken over and team selections, tactics and substitutions have all reaped rewards. As an attacking unit, the team has looked confident and assured and in Yakubu and Hoilett, we have two players on top of their game who can create changes and score goals. The yongsters also deserve credit and ironically since the sale of Samba, the defence looks as settled as it has done all season. Pedersen and N'zonzi's contribution in the centre of midfield should not be underestimated too.
It is highly likely given the form of the sides below Rovers that 33 points may well signal safety even though QPR has just staged the kind of comeback against Liverpool which may energise them into a recovery. Certainly a win for Rovers at the Reebok on Saturday will go a mighty long way to preserving top tier football. Thankfully, Fabrice Muamba appears to be making a remarkable recovery following the frightful scenes we witnessed at White Heart Lane last weekend and Bolton feel the time is right to take to the field again. Let's hope he continues to make good progress after his terrible ordeal.
Rovers appear to be winning the battle to retain their Premier League status and this has been helped by the 'freak events' of the side keeping two clean sheets in successive games and winning back to back games. The club has now got more than a fighting chance of staying up, something that was inconceivable in the bleak mid-Winter. Those who care about the club realise that the fundamental and deep rooted problems have not gone away just because of two positive results on the pitch. The Venkys are still around and there is nothing to suggest that the culture of the club will change next season.
There has also been some who have been quick to say"told you so" and to make outlandish suggestions that Steve Kean should receive the Manager of the Year award if he keeps Rovers up. Once again the ignorance of the some elements of the media beggars belief. Kean would deserved a certain amount of praise for keeping the club up,but it should not be forgotten who got us into the mess in the first place. I also get the impression that Rovers and Steve Kean will be the default response to all those who may air on the side of caution when a manager is on the brink and the Chairman is threatening to pull the trigger.
The club today announced that season ticket prices will be frozen until the end of April. This move should be welcomed but it will be interesting to see how many will take up the offer not necessarily making a decision by what division the club may be playing in but whether they are too exhausted and washed out from witnessing season 2011-12.
Well done to the Youth team who will take a 1-0 lead into the second leg of the Youth Cup Semi at Turf Moor next week after tonight's events against the old foes at Ewood.
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March 7, 2012
Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish reckons his side were "bullied" by Rovers in the 2nd half of the encounter at Ewood on Saturday. Whether this was the case is open to conjecture but McLeish’s comments have to be welcomed as it seems like an eternity since an opposition manager has given Rovers credit for getting amongst his team and imposing themselves on them.
Ewood during the mid 'noughties' was a place to avoid if you happened to be an over paid, underperforming prima donna who might be suffering a slight twinge to a hamstring or a few sniffles. Managers such as Wenger and Benitez prepared for a trip to Ewood with trepidation and in the days leading up to the visit to 'hell' were prepared to play mind games with referees warning of the consequences of being soft towards the 'bully boys'. Rovers need many more 2nd half performances like against Villa on Saturday to stay in this division.