Monday, 5 March 2012

A Missed Opportunity

If I was presented with a five pound note for every single time I spoke to someone prior to Saturday's game with Aston Villa and their comment to me was something along the lines of... "I've reckon you'll win against Villa, you're at home and they are a bit depleted, it looks nailed on", I'd have raised enough money to launch a hostile takeover of Blackburn Rovers.

Because no matter how many times I heard that we were likely to win I never bought it. And if you are a Rovers fan of even the more casual variety then you'd know why, we never, EVER make the straightforward look just that.

Admittedly Villa did to a certain extent look like a sitting duck beforehand with no Darren Bent and Robbie Keane about to inflict some unwanted damage but our boys in blue and white had the initiative heading into the game with a full squad (Vince Grella doesn't count) and if we had come out the blocks all guns blazing then Rovers probably would have been able to bag three vital points.

It was begging for a barnstormer of a show and a display to put some happy colgate grins back on the long suffering fans faces. All it needed was a bit of fire and passion from the off.

What we instead got was a first half display that a local under 12's girls side would have been fairly embarrassed of, and that's being fairly harsh on the girls side. It was about two stops short of being accurately described as pathetic such was the lack of any sort of drive in the side, especially one that is fighting for their very lives at the wrong end of the table at the business end of an extremely challenging season.

If the players were even half as bothered in the first half as the Darwen End stewards (reportedly) were in searching home fans for banners, flags and used crisp packets then the game could have told a very different tale.

In comparison to the home side the Villains looked like Barcelona and they barely had to come out of second gear in doing so. The Midlanders' midfield swash buckled round Ewood Park as if they owned it and if it had not been for the game long contribution of the excellent Paul Robinson then we could have been onto a hiding.

For all the stick that Robinson gets he is still one of the best reflex shot stoppers in the division and proved it with several cracking stops that kept Rovers in the game at more than one point in the game. In the first 45 minutes at least he was giving the sort of verbal dressing downs that are normally reserved for errant school children and courtrooms. The shape of the side was non-existent and to make matters the outfield ten were carrying passengers... I'd have told them all off too captain Paul.

For starters, Morten Gamst Pedersen was appalling. He looked scared to have the ball, wasted possession, made no use of the space around him and was badly at fault for the Villa goal. On a normal day he'd have been singled out for some stinging criticism but there were at least four other players in the opening salvo who weren't far behind him in the now weekly competition to be quite so dreadful.

Radosav Petrovic put in another pedestrian show that made Michel Salgado's sprinting speed look like a bolt of lightning, Mauro Formica had an off day, Scott Dann looked like he had just woken up at 2.55 pm that very same day and Junior Hoilett was trying to win the entire game on his own with not a drop of help from anyone else. The Canadian's greedy habits are actually hampering us at a time when he should be taking us up a gear.

It is difficult to know whether to give credit to Steve Kean for the half time changes or not. It was so blindingly obvious that something needed to change for us to even stand a chance of getting some sort of reward but the player exchanges that did happen turned the game back in our favour.

Off went the sluggish Serb and the anonymous Argentinian and on came salvation.

David Dunn was introduced and immediately Rovers looked like a scarred beast with a point to prove. The clumsy, error strewn outfit from the first half had been replaced by a more direct and energetic version after the cup of tea and banana break and it was led by the local man.

Dunny himself has been written off more than once this season as a ailing former hero but one half of football later and he is magically a key player again in - that is a testament to quite how good he was and at times single handedly dragged the team forward.

You can have all the technical ability imaginable but sometimes there really is no substitute for the passion and extra 10% that comes with the loyalty of one of your own. Watch David Dunn play for Blackburn Rovers, it means more to him than anyone else and it's visible on his face.

To say he deserved his goal is possibly the understatement of this or any other century.

A draw was merited when the final whistle blew and aside from the resurgent local lad it was thanks in part to the improved performances of many first half offenders. Martin Olsson looked nervous during the first period but in the second half was a leaping, bundle of boundless energy that made things flow down the left hand side of the field and don't look now but his twin brother Marcus also showed signs of promise from a more advanced position.

The CRIMINALLY underrated Steve N'Zonzi put aside the indecisiveness of his first half performance to show the control and composure that allowed us to claim the midfield back and turn the screw. The lanky Frenchman doesn't panic on the ball like a lot of the other central players and we are a much better unit for it.

And whilst Scott Dann was again blowing hot and cold the youngster next to him was giving him an indirect lesson in how to man mark, Grant Hanley was again Mr.Dependable and shut up shop at the back with some great positional work allied with some dominating aerial ability.

What was going wrong in the opening parts of the game was slowly being corrected as the game wore on.

All in all though a difficult fixture to judge on reflection as before the game a win was demanded and desired but at half time we'd have begged, borrowed and stolen for a point.

One thing is for certain is that if that disgrace of a first half display ever makes an appearance again it'll be too soon and it better not show up for our next fixture in particular.

Wolves away. Oh yes it's good old squeaky bum time.


  1. nice and evenly balanced report Mikey..and agree with everything you said about Dunny. I am really pleased that he is staying at the club and going into a coaching role. Local hero indeed...

    French Rover

  2. marcus olsson was a great free transfer....he is a very quick feet player

  3. Good report, yes, Dunny has the passion that in a perfect world, every Blackburn player should have. Without him, this match could have been a completely different story.

  4. yes excellent summing up Mikey one thing though that was evident that needs highlighting is playing the Yak up on his own with no help was always a recipe for disaster and considering Rovers were at home the emphasis should really have been to attack Villa from the off IMO we really should have gone with a 4-4-1-1 with Formica, Rochina, Hoilett playing in the hole behind the Yak that would have been more effective it seems to me coco my name for him employs the wrong formations for all the games no disrespect to Villa but when you play a team struggling at home the 4-4-1-1 places more emphasis on attacking generally a 4-2-3-1 is generally employed by teams when they travel away from home to look more solid it just amazes me how coco has not figured that out yet also another startling discovery which totally baffled me everyone knows the weak link in Villa's defence is Warnock everyone can see this I was stating this before the match Hoilett should have been set to run at Warnock he would have terrified the life out of him and would have had more joy and Warnock would have not got out as much into our half creating things then maybe with the right tactics and formation we might have won that game as the villains were there for the taking and a decent manager would have noticed these things and rectified the problems but as have stated many times before we don't have a manager managing our team we have a clown who quite frankly I would not trust to prepare his own lunch let alone play around with a premier league team.

    Rant Over!

  5. I'll bet Savio was one of those who drove Andrews out of the club! Jones ( mark 1 ) Jones ( mark 2 ) Samba, Emerton and Nelson allowed to leave; unbelievable vitriolic abuse from the fans from the first day of the season and we're out of the bottom three - I know who gets my vote for manager of the season.

  6. Great article yet again. Don't agree we were at full strength, I feel like Givet adds more than Dann & Hanley.

    Pretty annoyed that Kean didn't go 4-4-2 around the 70 min mark and get Goodwillie the gametime he needs. Whats happened to him? he's totally frozen out now and replaced by modeste? Perhaps a futhur payment to Dundee if he plays x amount of games? Is this whats happened with Vucevic? He has been below Hoilett, Martin & Macus Olsson and even Henley since christmas and i thourght he actually looked like a decent player?

    I think the 4-2-3-1 can work on the proviso that it dosent become a static 4-4-1-1 as the wingers fall deep. The biggest flaw in keans formation for me is the fact that Nzonzi & Petrovic constantly sit back when we attack and never provide forward support. AT LEAST ONE of these players has to join the attack (How often do you see fletcher, Park, Carrick, Phil Jones pushing into the box and offering the support), we always seem like were too light in the box when attacking.