Thursday, 23 December 2010

Once upon a time

I would just like to say that I haven't written today's post myself. It was posted by Craig Haydock on Facebook. After reading all these posts about our beloved club's imminent doom, this post was like a fresh breeze on scourging summer day.

On Thursday, 16th September 2004, Blackburn Rovers appointed Mark Hughes as long-term successor to the departed Graeme Souness. While Sparky was undoubtedly the peoples’ choice having finished his playing career at the club and had achieved relative highs as Wales coach, he was still an unproven prospect with no prior experience at neither coaching or management at club level.

He took on the challenge with Rovers lying 19th in the Premiership and without a win from their opening five games. A late, and by that stage rare, Matt Jansen goal from the subs bench claimed an opening victory in his first match – although Rovers wouldn’t win again under their new boss for two whole months, including 4-0 hidings at Middlesbrough and Chelsea and an embarrassing penalty shoot-out exit at home to Bournemouth in the League Cup.

Despite a plucky start, Hughes was afforded patience to stamp his mark on the side, owed in no small part to the backing of the fans and their obvious affinity for a player who had rolled back the years via the club’s League Cup Final success two years previously, filling in for suspensions and injuries in a holding central midfield role.

From a team that had shipped 29 goals in their opening 14 games, Hughes managed to carve out a disciplined side (they would only concede 14 goals from their next 24 games), unearthed an unknown New Zealand defender from the MLS on a free transfer in Ryan Nelsen and infused the side with the combative qualities of Robbie Savage and Aaron Mokoena, two players who may as well have been cut from the same stone as Hughes himself.

Perhaps Hughes’ greatest legacy to the club that season was to be found in the lost-property box at Ewood, allowing a young Morten Gamst-Pedersen the opportunity to shine and subsequently score for fun in the FA Cup, which would see the club reach the last four of the competition for the first time in 45 years – including the winner over Burnley in the dying stages of a Fifth Round Replay.

Rovers would go on to finish 15th with their top-flight status long-secured; rather disappointingly, they had once peaked at 11th in April only to see a small squad stretched by a long season, petering out without a win from their last five games.

The rest they say, is history. In seasons to come, the club would enjoy 6th, 10th and 7th finished places respectively, including two forays into Europe and a host of impressive and surprisingly economical signings that saw the likes of Craig Bellamy, David Bentley, Stephen Warnock, Chris Samba, Benni McCarthy and Roque Santa Cruz pull on the famous blue and white halves.

Given time, patience, ambition, a belief that an inexperienced manager needn’t always be a negative nor a hindrance – and evidence that success can be achieved without excess, the future could be rosy after all. Red rosy, with Arte Et Labore underneath. 

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Only One Jack Walker!

This post will not be about Uncle Jack Walker or Venky's. It will be about Saturday's game and the crazy reactions it has received. The title is merely to show how I feel about the current way of our owners.

First of all, I would like to make it as clear as shot of vodka - I am disappointed by the result against West Ham. That being said, I think it is absolutely outrageous how people have reacted to the performance and the result that came with it. The number of times I have read, 'this would never have happened with Big Sam' or 'how can they justify appointing Kean, after a performance like this', is astronomical! People that were screaming for a boot in Sam's rear, are all of a sudden defending him and hoping they can get the boot back, so they can use it on his successor.

These same people have been asking for a quick tempo passing/possession game, instead of Alardyce's direct long ball game. What I am about to say, might come as a shock for these people, but you got what you asked for, the result just didn't follow.

But isn't it a bit much to ask for, when you consider all the details that add up to this utter, ridiculous chaos? I certainly think so!

First of all, Steve Kean, the players and the rest of the staff, had about 3-4 days to overcome the shock of Big Sam's 'out of the blue' dismissal. Furthermore they had to change the game plan almost from top to bottom, to please both fans and owners. Three injuries to key players also meant that Kean wasn't allowed to make any tactical changes in the second half, when West Ham pretty much took control of the game. For all this, I think our players and staff deserve something more the verbal stoning and beating.

The fans, the blood and life of the club, the owners, temporary governors, got what they asked for. They got that illusive, forward aiming, fast paced, short passing, possession football that we have been screaming for. After some 25 minutes our 'soldiers in the trenches' had some 70% of the possession and West Ham hadn't had a  half decent run at our goal.

In the second half, our players looked tired and although the Admiral managed to scramble home a goal, they looked like they were confused, whether they were playing Big Sam football, or the type of football we saw in the first half. This resulted in a lengthy West Ham attacking spell, that eventually made us concede a very good goal by any team's standard. The soldiers in Blue and White, however, took over again and got a solid goal that was dismissed for one reason only - Mike Dean. I have looked at it time and again and I really can't see anything wrong with it. There was a West Ham player that probably thought he saw a penny and dropped to the floor, hoping to have a bit more for the Christmas shoppings, but other than that there wasn't a single thing that could justify the dismissal.

All in all, I am disappointed by the draw. I always am. I expect us to win every single fixture and anyone that is satisfied with a draw, lacks a very fundamental thing in football and life in general - winner mentality. That been said, I'm not disappointed in our boys, or our caretaker for that matter, as they were working under circumstances none of us could ever imagine.

Only One Jack Walker!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Well that was a shock!

The sacking of Big Sam is one of those things, where you remember where you were, what you were doing and what you had just eaten. Kind of like 9/11. Well for me it was anyway.

I was on my way home from school and, as the Facebook addict that I am, checked the 'book for some news. One of my Icelandic friends had posted something resembling this: "Big Sam has taken his stuff and has left Ewood Park. Now what the hell are we supposed to do?" not in those words, it was actually in Icelandic. I literally dropped my jaw and thought "These Indy's are gonna lead us to ruins!"

The following day rumors started flowing about John Williams's imminent resignation and that the Raos didn't have a new manager lined up. Lets just say that it didn't improve my view on the current owners. Making rash decisions without a definite plan isn't very Rovers like. It's more the department of say... Newcastle, West Ham, Pompey and co.

At first I though that maybe the meetings between our owners and JW, might be about who his successor should be. Now I have a sneaky feeling, that the meetings were about JW demanding, that Steve Kean was given a chance at the helm; if only to show that he will not tolerate having these kind of decisions pushed over his head and to prove that he doesn't appoint staff members without reason.

So what can we say about Kean's managerial record then? Zip - squat - absolutely nothing! He's been assistant manager at three clubs - Fulham, Real Sociedad and Coventry. What does that say about his managerial ability? Zip - squat - absolutely nothing! It just might be so, that we have the next Pep Guardiola on our books, but we could also be so unlucky that we have the next Paul Ince. Now that is the stuff of nightmares!

What I'm trying to say is, that we haven't got a clue about what Steve Kean is capable of and therefore we must do what real fans do and more importantly - we have to do what real Rovers do - we must stick by our team, our manager and most of all, we must always stick by our ever so loyal chairman. We show up to the games and show our undying love for our club, no matter how much we dislike the current owners!

Rover and out

Saturday, 11 December 2010

I am Sam

Great movie isn't it? I think it's bloody brilliant! Oh well, that's not what this is about. Let's pretend, just for one moment, that I am Big Sam. What will be on my to do list come January?

January 1st, 2011 - 00:00.01. Make new year resolution to lose 20 pounds... again.

Oh well jokes aside. We all know that we are desperately lacking players in two thirds of the field - midfield and attack. After all the papers and fans alike have been telling us for months/years, that we need someone with a touch of class in midfield and someone lethal in attack. I admit, I too was one of those fans, until very very recently.

While at work tonight, playing Football Manager 2011, enjoying massive success with MY Rovers team, I started wondering who could get that fits the so called bill. In midfield there are some players I would gladly welcome. Milijas at Wolves, Kranjcar and Bentley at Spurs to name a few. In attack I think should go abroad. Pavel Pogrebnyak or maybe Jelle Vossen from Belgium, although Vossen is young and upcoming. These are all affordable targets, although Wolves probably won't sell one of their better players to a rival team.

But then I thought, who do we have among our own players that has that touch of class? We have Dunn, Gamst, Emo, Diouf, Hoilett and Olsson. So is that really what we need? I say no. What we need is someone who can play all across the midfield and can actually stay fit. Just an average player, although a world class player is preferable. Our team is by no means short of creative players. It is however a bit short of fit players at the moment.

What I think we desperately need is a left back (don't think I have to explain that one) and that lethal striker. Who knows, maybe Robbie Keane is that striker, but somehow I doubt that he would make a big difference.

Over and out

Monday, 6 December 2010

Correction - Winning IS everything!

Time and again, you'll hear Newcastle fans stating that winning isn't everything in the world of football. Football is about passes and bla bla bla. I can only think of one reason why a football fan would ever say such a ludicrous thing - they haven't experienced winning! And if, by any chance, you are a Toon fan - the Championships don't count! Anyway, this won't be about anything connected to any small club, but only, as usual, one of the true big 4. One of the four teams that have actually won the league!

What made me start on this post, was the re-appearance of Anuradha Desai's comments about football vs. entertainment. The comment really pissed me off to say the least! Now I don't know about you, but to me there's nothing more satisfying than a victory and if it's gained by playing fast, forward play with a few passes and a shot, then you won't hear me complain. Yes I like direct "Sam Alardyce" football! Football with real men, as Salgado put it, that aren't afraid of a challenge and are willing to work their ass to pieces for their club. However, you'll hear me whine like a little girl, if my beloved Rovers manage to stitch some 1,563 passes together, in and around the middle of the park, without being able to score, rolling around on the floor and crying for a free-kick. That to me is not entertainment, but merely a waste of precious time!

What I'm trying to say is, that if we were to sack Sam Alardyce because of fast, direct, effective football and appoint someone like... someone like... Paul Ince who got our players playing this so called"entertaining football", then the Rao family will lose my support!

But until then, all is good at Camp Rovers and I'm looking forward to a very productive December, with at least 12 points.

Over and out

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Have... to stay.... positive!

I haven't posted since on Friday, as I didn't want to join the endless convoy of rant wagons, hoping that if I waited long enough, there would be something positive to write about. It might seem like I'm desperately grasping at straws here, BUT I have found some things worthy to write about... I think.

First of all, there were positives with the United game. One of our many bright talents got his first Premier League game and while other players were hanging with there heads, he showed real will and managed to set up our goal, with a magnificent cross. He really grabbed the opportunity with both hands and I actually think that he should be starting against Wolves. Both as recognition for his effort and as a penalty for the other players's woeful appearance.

The following could be seen as a positive and as a negative, but since I have set out to write something positive, I have chosen to see it as such. His absence has proven that Gamst is absolutely invaluable to our team, as we desperately missed his long throws, passings and set-piece ability. Of course it's not a good thing to rely so much on one player, but it proves that he has returned to the form that caught the attention of the entire World. I'm not even joking with that one. If we are to challenge for Europe, which apparently is the goal of the Rao's, he will be a key player.

Just as much as Gamst is a key player, Chimbonda is not! Don't get me wrong, I will always remember him for the goal against Scum and that alone was well worth what we payed for him. BUT he is at most a back up player and I feel that we have seen the best of him. I hope he leaves in January, for our AND his own good. Have I gone negative? Absolutely not. If this wasn't brought to our attention now, we might have relied on him for later games, against teams that are in and around where we want to be. So it's all good ;)

Over and out