Sunday, 22 April 2012

Life in the old dog yet

There is no two ways about it - that was absolutely critical and vital in equal measures.

For about six months a season we are fed endless marketing ploys from the Premier League and sportsbook reviews about how each game could settle a relegation battle or where the title could be headed or whether the lives and futures of thousands of plastic fans could be thrown into turmoil via a heavily deflected Emile Heskey goal in the 83rd minute of a frankly boring game that means nothing half an hour after it's ended.

We're told this bullshit every week from about October onwards but finally after months of being lied to by faceless money grabbing corporations (this rant will finish soon I promise) we finally arrived at a do or die moment with Norwich at home on Saturday.

Not for Norwich, they were metaphorically on a beach in Marbella/Malia/Scarborough with their beach towels out preparing for their next groupie heavy spit roast, but for our boys in blue and white. With the club in a perilous position in the league table and with ground to make up it was the dooms day scenario that we'd all feared. A tie at "Fortress Ewood" against a side with nothing to play for had to yield a maximum return, especially with two very tricky away games at Spurs and Didier Drogba's Play Acting Select X1 still to negotiate before the seasons end.

And to give the players and the manager due credit they pulled it off. Not with any great style or swagger but they got themselves over the line. At times it was sloppy, poorly thought out and sorely lacking in quality but the right side won and with a clean sheet to boot... three in a season, check us out, in your face Bayern Munich.

Rovers for their part had thankfully retrieved that fighting spirit that has been alarmingly absent in recent weeks at West Brom and rather more infamously at Swansea and put in the sort of fighting display you'd expect from a team that has massive relegation concerns and the expectations of a baying, impatient crowd to factor in. 

Out went the laboured and tired looking Steven N'Zonzi (contract issues, bust up, personal injury suffered at the hands of a vicious rumour - take your pick) and in came the rather more energetic likes of Jason Lowe. The ball retention and possession had been sacrificed in favour of a more lively and work-heavy midfield which in hindsight, as beautiful as it is, worked a treat.

Lo and behold Blackburn looked competitive in midfield and with the likes of David Dunn and Mauro Formica putting in pretty Herculean shifts it wasn't long before a pretty tepid start was replaced by a performance that demonstrated the hunger to impress. 

Speaking of hunger it would be hard not to mention the real star of the show, the returning "Bearded Warrior" Gael Givet. For weeks now a scraggy looking afterthought in the rather awfully acted play that is the Rovers survival show, he was restored to the Blackburn back four in our hour of need and to say he didn't disappoint is an understatement.

In short, he was absolutely magnificent. 

Carrying knocks - yes. Unfit - absolutely. But with the kind of never say die, you'll not be getting past me today sunshine attitude that has been missing from the side for weeks on end. He looked up for it and his charisma and passion radiated out to others,

To go from not being in the right frame of mind to THAT in the space of a week takes some imagination but all cynicism aside he was a joy to watch and stirred up the likes of emotion that only a select few can.

Allez allez indeed.

Even the heavily criticised likes of Morten Pedersen, Scott Dann and Marcus Olsson all put in the displays that would have rendered the flak they've been getting null and void if they'd have been visible from an earlier date and in the case of the Norwegian fairy a visually spectacular hand in the opening goal.

And of course let's not leave out contract boy Junior Hoilett whilst we are enjoying a very rare ramble of joy.

To survive in the Premier League you need moments of proper quality (copyright Andy Townsend) and to score a goal like that to settle everyone down at the start of what could have been a very tricky second half is just the type of medication the doctor orders you take. Putting himself in the shop window he may well have been doing but it was of great benefit to us so moan all you like.

We even got the type of spontaneous anti-Venky's/Kean chant that made it clear the feeling of disgust and disdain towards the ownership/manager dynamic is not restricted to just a "1% minority". At 2-0 up and cruising it was a perfect time for pretty much an entire crowd to bust out in song against the owners and manager... When the Jack Walker Upper is joining in you know they've affected more than a handful.

We're not going anywhere in the long term under this set of clowns, that's become very apparent and for once it was a brilliant time to air it to the world loud and proud.

It capped what amounted to almost the perfect afternoon, not something that gets us out of the woods by a long shot but one that keeps us in the mix at exactly the right time.

Anything less than a win against Norwich would have seen our chances of survival rated at about 10/90. As it is by my reckoning their still 70/30 in favour of us joining Wolves in the Championship next year, Saturday wasn't about winning the game it was about keeping ourselves in it.

From that point of view it was job done.


  1. Brilliant as always the best Rovers blog there is

    1. Amazing stuff, there's only one Mikey Delap.

  2. Great post and great blog as ever. Now, thinking of Kean - he reminds me SOOOO much of Brian Kidd in the last season we went down. I remember him being unaware that we needed more than a draw against Manchester United if we were to stay up. We got the draw. We went down.

    Hearing Kean talking about needing 7 points from the four remaining games is exactly the same. Now, great, we have three of these points meaning we need, according to Kean, 4 points from the last three games. This would give us a total of 35 points.

    Yet we can see that QPR have 34 points already, as do Wigan; Kean's logic seems to be to rely on the failure of ALL the other teams at the bottom. Indeed, Bolton have 30 points with 5 games to play. The truth is we need - probably - to win two of our last games to have a fighting chance. To prepare a team for a win and a draw is flirting with disaster.

    Kean says "there's no reason", given the results at Anfield, Man U etc that we "can't get something" from Spurs and Chelsea. Well, on that logic, there was "no reason" we couldn't get something from Swansea, West Brom, Sunderland et al away - or from West Brom and Wolves at home.

    The truth is that Kean and Venky's have brought us to this point and our odds of survival are appalling. I hope we survive but in a situation where it might be the case that Wigan need a win at Rovers to survive then losing a six pointer at home could be enough to send us down. Kean - as always - relies way too much on other teams performances to save the day for Rovers. I suspect his last gamble will fail, I am sorry to say. But, as we know, he's not a very good manager, as his record shows.