Wednesday, 21 March 2012

OK what's going on here?

It's very difficult at this point not to make the London buses cliché - we've waited for what seems like an eternity for a clean sheet and some good fortune to come into our lives and then another one comes rolling along rather gingerly behind it.

And make no mistake about it, both the win and the clean sheet were deserved as much as they were welcome. For the second time in two games pretty much everything that can go right in a football game went right, furthermore as things stand our boys sit six points clear of the relegation zone and easily top of that five team mini league trying to stay up.

It's like one of those terrible Jennifer Aniston/Sarah Jessica Parker romantic comedy films where everything is almost going too well and it's only a matter of time a spanner is thrown into the works.

For their part Sunderland did turn up with a lot of hype which has been accrued over the reign of Martin O'Neill but on the night looked flat and disinterested even if their main men were well shackled by the willing workers in blue and white. But that should not take away from another very committed, energetic and dynamic performance from a resurgent Rovers.

Back to back wins, back to back clean sheets and on the night the superior team with an organisation that would have been handy back in, oh I don't know... say the whole of 2011.

Scott Dann and Grant Hanley created a very formidable base from which to operate at the back with Hanley continuing his fine 2012 and Scott Dann FINALLY starting to look like a guy worth £6 million instead of £0.06. Their positioning was as sound as a pound and both were very strong in the challenge. In Scotty's case he must have been reading my blog a few weeks back...

Jason Lowe on the right did a very handsome and quietly efficient job of shackling Sunderland's rising star James MacLean whilst Martin Olsson continued their very convincing "we look a lot like each other" act with his twin brother Marcus. Both added an extra spice to the attack and with Mauro Formica covering some SERIOUS yards on the other flank the balance was right in the Rovers side.

Elsewhere Steve N'Zonzi provided the platform for the more gifted to be, well more gifted and even Morten Pedersen kept his wayward, open play passing down to a bare minimum.

But the draw was turned into a win because of two men - the born again Junior Hoilett and the Blackburn Rovers player of the season, Yakubu. Hoilett in his more central role was too much for a talented if slightly off Black Cats to handle whilst a late Yak header was a just reward for a night full of his usual endeavour and hugely underrated hold up play (to be fair if I had a massive backside I'd use it too).

Of course there were some usual groans, we're Rovers fans so where would we be without them?

The first half was a bit of a non-event with both struggling to wake up, there were still one too many sloppy passes in potentially dangerous areas that a Manchester United or a Liverpool could and probably would have punished and the sitting back which cost us the reverse fixture in O'Neill's first game in charge earlier in the year was a bit nerve shredding around the 75th minute mark.

But these are minor gripes and at the risk of being lynched as I wander outside my house this morning it must be said that Steve Kean for his role in the recent resurgence deserves a lot of credit. Since that horrible, heart breaking day against Bolton where we hit the bottom of the table we've taken 18 points from the last 36 available and we've risen to six points off the dreaded red line.

He's far from the genius that some are now ridiculously painting him and we've made absolutely NO progress in his now 50 games in charge but we're rising out of a sticky situation which many had us down as a dead cert to flounder in.

No, he's not a nice human being and he's certainly not a particularly good manager based on his track record but he's nailed these last two very pivotal games, whether you like him or not a portion of the credit has to land on his lap.

A third win in the final match of our "Massive March" and we can start thinking of where to buy some fairly fancy champagne from.

Dare to dream of safety anyone?

* As FHM's Rovers blog of choice I am compelled to get you to read their excellent piece on the current financial situation in football. Check it out, it's a good one.


  1. Well said mate, not in my wildest dreams would I have thought that we would be in the position we now find our selves. Fingers crossed we can hold on to our position and finish off with a bang!

  2. Yep, good as ever and fair play to Keano for the recent results. Can we hang on? don't know, but things are looking a whole lot better this morning in Roverland.

  3. I hate to say this but even though he hasn't improved our league position, he has brought through some young talented players and improved our style of play so maybe Steve isn't that bad after all.

    I never thought I would write that comment.

    Maybe I'm completely wrong(Godf I hope not).

  4. We may have made no progress on the pitch but considering the owners have slashed our wage bill and offloaded our most talented players we can hardly expect to have progressed very much.

  5. Slashing our wage bill and restructuring the playing staff to have younger players who play more minutes for their money is realistically providing us with a more sustainable financial model in the current financial crisis in football. Compare our models to either Bolton (over 60 million of debt) or QPR (operating at a huge loss currently underwritten by wealthy benefactor).

    The shipping out of older players that are past their best was long overdue, and the team have found a great way to play attractive and finally winning football. A mixture of young exciting players and homegrown academy graduates actually helps connect the club of today more strongly to the Jack Walker vision for Rovers - that the club would eventually become self-sufficient based on the produce of its academy. A long way to go, but premier league survival should hopefully be built upon, although we should probably realise that we will continue to have to sell-on produce of our academy over the coming years.

  6. My main worry right now (i'm a rovers fan, we always need something to worry about) is not survival or holding on to hoilett. It's holding on to formica. Some were slating his lack of pace later in the game yesterday, but you try running fast when you've already run twice as far as everyone else in the team. He has been brilliant for us and, in my opinion, underrated for his contribution. I pray that they don't try to get rid of him this summer. Kean needs to fight to keep him. Hell, bring his brother here from Greece if it will help. Seems to be a rovers trend of late!

  7. Lets not get too carried away....we have a tough run in!!
    but must agree that some of the younger players who looked lost in 2011 are now starting to find their feet!!

    1. Do we have a tougher run in than those round us?

      Here's some stats... (I have included Villa as a benchmark)
      QPR have to play 6 teams pushing for Europe
      Villa & Wigan have 5 teams
      We have 4
      Bolton & Wolves have 2 each

      On Relegation Battles - good old 6 pointers
      Bolton have 3
      We have 2 as do Wigan & Wolves
      Villa have 1
      QPR have none

      On that basis Wigan, QPR and Villa have the hardest run-ins, Wolves have got the easiest run-in. But given that Bolton have cup replays and Villa to reschedule then they are going get congested.

      Last Day usually counts more than anything..
      All of us are away except Wigan who entertain Wolves...

      3 points at the Horwich Library / Breezeblox on Saturday are key to us!

  8. On the subject of Steve Kean

    Yes, we are playing better football (sort of!)
    Yes, we are starting to come good (better late than never)
    Yes, the players have been behind Kean (unlike they were with Ince)
    Yes, most of the blame lies at Venkys door
    Yes, he has shown enormous courage in standing up during every game even when the mindless idiots protested during the games...(not a problem weating yellow and black as it is a passive protest)

    But let's be honest... we have suffered whilst SK learns how to be a manager... Consistency has been our problem... that is the manager's responsibility.

  9. Don,t you think that this mini rise is down to Kean having got a decent No.2 by his side?

    1. Could be... or the clean sheet because Samba perhaps wasnt as good as we thought?

  10. Whilst I've backed Kean 100% throughout the season I never thought I' d read such mildly positive comments - I always thought that he'd need to win the treble and sign Messi before he managed to get a majority of fans on his side. Agree with most of what you have written but to say we have made no progress in 50 matches is alittle unfair. At least we play with some stlye and pass the ball rather than boot it as far possible - fans are very selective in their memory. West Ham supporters are much less forgiving. Booed off the pitch in four consecutive home matches despite possessing the most talented squad in the Championship. Let's not forget that if sterile Sam had stayed Hoilett would never have got a game and would probably been given away last summer. It was Sam who allowed his contract to run down to under 2 years - not Kean. What a shame that we'll never know how Sam would have fared if he'd had to let Jones (mark 1) Jones (mark 2 ) Emerton, Samba, Andrews, Roberts etc leave the club.
    Kean has worked wonders - how would you have reacted if you'd be verbally abused and threatened on a daily basis? What a shame that the excellent support and atmosphere on Tuesday wasn't present from August to December. And still he gains 28 points from 29 games - bet Bolton, Wolves, Wigan and QPR ( how much did Sparky spend in Jan. ) are a tiny bit jealous!!

  11. I think I share a lot of Rovers fans when I say, DAMN YOU LIVERPOOL!!

  12. Blackburn Rovers are against Muslims

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