Soapbox on a bad night in Blackburn: Rovers reap rewards

Sixer by Jake

How we wanted to rub the nose of Tim Farron, president of the Lib Dems, a possible party leader of the future and a passionate supporter of Blackburn Rovers, into something messy*. Pete Sixsmith explains why we couldn’t …

Many Sunderland fans are anxiously looking at the bottom of the Premier League table, not because our club is anywhere near it but because there is the worrying possibility that three Lancashire clubs could go down. To make it worse, they could well be replaced by teams from those footballing hotbeds of Hampshire and Berkshire plus the possibility of the Pie and Mash boys regaining their Premier League place.

So we can look upon last night as the players’ gift to the fans. They know that we like a day out at Blackburn. We get plenty of tickets, it’s not far to go and, for the Durham Branch at least, there is an opportunity to sample the waters in that finest of English towns, Skipton.

Three pints of splendid ales in the Narrow Boat preceded this disappointing game at Ewood Park. Had I dashed through from work in the car and grabbed a pie in the ground, I may not have been as tolerant of this disjointed and jaded display.

Saturday was another high energy game, a real tussle between two evenly matched sides. The mental strength and awareness of professional footballers has to be intense and with our players, even more so. We play a tight game which relies on us seizing the game from the outset and putting our opponents on the back foot.

That is what we did at Everton, at home to Liverpool, at the Sports Direct Arena and against Arsenal in the cup; when we are unable to do that, as at West Brom and at home to Middlesbrough, we can struggle. Add Blackburn (a) to that list.

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Quite simply, we never got going. Blackburn had done their homework on us and seized control of the midfield from the start. Hoilet created a chance from nothing in the first two minutes and we struggled to get into the game. Kyrgiakos settled in well with Turner and although we were not in any real trouble after the initial Rovers flurry, we were never able to control the vital midfield areas.

The fact that their assistant manager is Eric Black might have helped them. He would know these players, their strengths and weaknesses, and he used his knowledge well. Their central midfield never allowed Vaughan and Gardner to run the game and both were disappointing, making a number of wayward passes and being caught in possession far too easily by a Blackburn side that have clearly bought in to Steve Kean’s philosophy, if not that of the Indian chicken men.

They had two and sometimes three men on McClean and it wasn’t until the second half that he began to influence the game. Bendtner played deep (and did very well – although I am sure that there are many who will disagree with me) and tried to spread the ball and bring in his strike partner. Alas, Fraizer Campbell looked like a forward running on empty now the euphoria of his return has worn off.

Rovers knew that this was a game that they had to win and that it was winnable. They worked very hard, making full use of their strengths. In Hoilet, they have a good payer, but for me, the Frenchman Sreven N’Zonzi was their man of the match. He is tall, strong and reads the game well. He may be one to look at for next season.

Both goals were avoidable. Mignolet showed that he is human, when he came for Pedersen’s long throw and missed it, allowing Hoilet to turn the ball in, while Yakubu was left unmarked when he headed in the clincher. These two will play a major part in keeping Rovers up. Yakubu looks a tad overweight, but he is a predator of the kind that we do not have. I don’t imagine that he would have missed the relatively easy chance that Ji scorned with the score at 1-0.

Not a great performance and one or two players must be worried for their places as Sessegnon and Cattermole prepare to return to the fray. I am sure the manager will have learnt a lot about some of them and will already be drawing up his plans for Everton and for next season.

Hopefully, that will include another visit to Blackburn via Skipton. I think that they will drag themselves clear, particularly if we beat QPR and they can take something from Bolton on Saturday.

Tony Benn would have shown more respect; ask Jake

* Our Tim – or maybe it’s his researcher – is not blessed with the most highly developed sense of courtesy. The Lib Dems’ press office promptly passed our request for a “Who are You?” interview, plus the questions, to the researcher together with one simple request: an early response even if the answer was No, so time would be left to find a substitute (I anticipated the rebuff and did so anyway: thanks Mike Delap from the Wild Blackburn Rover site). Result? Silence. I called this “staggering discourtesy” in an e-mail absolving the press officer, who tried his best to help even after starting a holiday. If only Sunderland had produced a performance enabling us to gloat in the general direction of the Farron office. No one is under any obligation to accept an invitation to be interviewed by Salut! Sunderland. But contrast what I have just described with the exchange I had yesterday with a Man City supporter; it took him no more than four hours to reply that he was too busy but hoped to be able to help out next season. The Hon Member of Parliament for Westmorland and Lonsdale has a lesson to learn.

12 thoughts on “Soapbox on a bad night in Blackburn: Rovers reap rewards”

  1. I seem to keep making the same point about Bendtner. The manager has to work with the players at his disposal until the end of the season. Bendtner is not ideal. He is not an out and out goalscorer but he is doing a job for the side. Wickham and Ji don’t seem quite ready yet and I wonder if Ji ever will. He seem to struggle when he comes on and apart from the goal on New Year’s Day has contributed little. Sess has been a miss but hopefully will be back rested and eager tomorrow.

    Bendtner won’t be with us after the ManUre game but until then he is one of ours. I can’t agree that he is lazy – he looks languid but he creates spaces for others and holds the ball well.

    Jeremy dismisses Kyriagos but he was signed on loan as cover and that is what he has provided. His option of “playing the Frenchman” if we have another defensive crisis isn’t an option is it? The Greek is and unlike Alan Stubbs when he wore the red and white, I’m sure he’ll give his all. We should be behind the team with a top half finish and an F.A. Cup semi within reach – not slagging them off.

  2. Bendtner just isn’t any use to us at all. He is so slow it’s untrue, not to mention lazy.

    I’ll be pleased to see him gone at the end of the season. I’m sure he’ll enjoy seeing Arsene again as well.

    • Oh the conundrum that is Bendtner. He should change his name to Marmite – you either love him or hate him. For me, any player that scores against the Mags goes straight on to the “love” list. However, I concede both your points Beth, he’s slow and his playing style makes him look disinterested. The majority of fans will probably be glad to see the back of him but if he were to score winning goals in 3 more FA Cup ties how would we feel then?

  3. “Jeremy could watch a Kyriagos blinder and still say he was a plonker.”

    Well firstly M. Salut I really doubt whether SK has “a blinder” in him. Certainly I’ve never seen him be anything above moderate, ever. It puzzled me as to how he ended up at Liverpool and then continued to get a regular game, as he is so incredibly poor, and consistently so. My heart sank when he arrived on loan and my fears were only tempered by the knowledge that Turner, Bramble, Brown, O’Shea and Kilgallon were all ahead of him in the pecking order. He did look “ill at ease” when the ball was anywhere near him. His nervousnous was surpassed by mine as an onlooker.

  4. Pete is playing the kindly judge to Jeremy’s Judge Jeffreys. I thought Kyriagos was ill at ease. For me, Turner shines for us at this level only when someone stronger – Brown or O’Shea – is alongside him. But it is just possible, if mischievous, to speculate that having been totally against signing him in the first place, Jeremy could watch a Kyriagos blinder and still say he was a plonker.

  5. I have seen better centre halves than Kyrgiakos on display in fixtures between Melton Mowbray Building Society and HMP Ashwell 2nds.

    He is a truly awful footballer, cast from similar material to the likes of Whitley and Hall. I suspect that he only makes a living from sport due to his resemblance to Sebastien Chabal. If we suffer a further central defensive crisis before the end of the season I would prefer the Frenchman to this particular Greek tragedy.

  6. Both did well enough. Bridge looks a calm and controlled player and may well be a possible signing for next season. Kyriagos needed the game and also did ok – but nowhere near as assured as O’Shea.

  7. As a Lib Dem, he would be too busy crawling up the a*** of the shysters and chancers who allegedly govern this country. Plus, he wouldn’t give you an opinion without seeing if Cameron or the appalling Clegg agreed with it.
    Rant over!!!

  8. Point taken, Ian, but I don’t think we switched off. Give Blackburn some credit – they did to us what we have done to the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Newcastle recently in that they never allowed us to settle.
    It will be interesting to see how Everton do at Arsenal tonight.
    Difficult to see from Row 3 at the opposite end, Phil. Point taken – wish we had done!!

  9. I think we do well against the big boys and when we see a club like WBA or Blackburn we think, “ok, we;ve worked hard, now we can relax a bit against these lot.”
    And we pay the price.
    You cannot treat any team in the PL with any less than your best otherwise you’ll lose.
    I thought that MON would have rested players like Bendtner and Campbell, Gardner etc and put on some players who are wanting to impress. I don’t know how Vaughn did but I would have thought he’d be up for it 100%. Maybe he was (I didn;t see the match, just heard it on the radio.)

    I think for QPR we’ll be back to 100% and win.
    But, big teams like Man U etc don’t switch off. That’s not the mentality.

  10. “Bendtner played deep (and did very well – although I am sure that there are many who will disagree with me)”

    Not I PS. He seemed to be the one player who, having received the ball, could control it and then pass it to another player in a red & white shirt.

    “Mignolet showed that he is human, when he came for Pedersen’s long throw and missed it, allowing Hoilet to turn the ball in”.

    I’m sorry but that is just not correct!

    He came for the ball and punched it hard enough for it to reach the edge of our penalty area where it, unfortunately, landed at Hoilet’s feet and he placed a good shot into the net.

    My immediate thought, though, was why was he unmarked with no one, seemingly, attempting to close him down, once the danger became clear.

    Maybe, I should have just stayed in bed instead of setting the alarm for 2.45am and then enduring a performance in which it seemed players seemed incapable of passing a ball (Campbell, in particular, was guilty of this) and the energy levels were so reduced as to only permit one outcome.

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