Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland: back to business

There are loads of people for whom international breaks are heaven sent. Maybe we’ll see things that way when Darren Bent is banging in goals for England and Jordan Henderson is showing just how good he is. But not just yet. Tomorrow night is the sort of occasion some of us live for – proper league football. For our return to Premier League action, we face Blackburn Rovers away. …

I’ve been to Ewood Park a few times.

On the most recent trips there, I’ve seen us beaten once – unjustly – in the FA Cup during Peter Reid’s second championship season, and a 0-0 opening game draw that seemed to set us up for a season that would end a bit better than what we achieved: bottom place.

After the second of those matches, a low, unseen bollard managed to rip the back bumper off my car though I couldn’t really blame Peter Reid for that.

Tomorrow, we’re looking for a big performance against, on paper, weaker opponents that those against whom we’ve fared best so far.

The weekend results saw us slip a few places down the table, exposing our lack of wins in the opening phase. Whoever Steve Bruce finds he ha savailable for the game wil need to be in tip-top form if we are to grab our first away win, an donly second Premier victory, of the season.

For those who missed it yesterday, Tony Sassine*, an editor at the Vital Blackburn Rovers site, tells us what is right and wrong with Big Sam’s team, and predicts a 1-1 draw …

Salut! Sunderland: Not much to choose between us, on points/results/position, in the opening part of the season. Are you satisfied, disappointed or relieved by Rovers’ early form?

The form has been inconsistent to say the least. We should of got something out of the Birmingham game, and have conceded a few sloppy goals turning a lead into a draw or loss. I’m sure Big Sam would be just as frustrated as us fans would be. A poor showing last up against Stoke was a real downer, and hopefully the break will freshen things up for us

So Danny Murphy includes Big Sam among managers who pump up players to, let’s put it bluntly, get out there and mix it. Fair comment or drivel?

Absolute drivel and nonesense. For a player, still playing in the game, to come out with such rubbish is really outrageous. He does have to remember he will be facing a few of the managers in the upcoming weeks, and will cop a spray from the faithful. Rovers play to our strengths, and we are yet to have man sent off this season, so what a load of crap.

What is your best hope for the season? Where will you – and we – end up in the Premier League?

Well we are out of the league cup thanks to our lovely friends at Aston Villa, so realistically, the FA Cup is our best bet. We really need another good run there and a bit of luck. As for the Premier League, it will be tough with the limited budget we have. Optimistically, I would hope to sneak inside the top 10, but realistically, 11th-13th would be the spot. As for Sunderland, I think you do have the firepower to force your way into the top 10, and 8th-9th spot would be the bet.

Was there any departure or arrival on transfer that inspired or angered you? And which of your Dioufs has won your affection/admiration?

The lack of arrivals was probably the main concern. We needed another man upfront, and apart from Dioufy junior, nothing came to avail. A creative midfielder would of been an asset, but nothing…..El Hadji Diouf is currently playing his best football in years. He really is our main creative threat, and will need to be onfire for us to grab the points this weekend. MB Diouf has scoreda few decent goals, though his form of late has dropped.

Can Blackburn Rovers ever break back into the Premier elite or are those days gone for ever?

Unfortunately, Rovers just can not compete financially with the bigger powers. Whether a takeover would change this or not would be hard to predict, but unfortunately, 6th spot is probably the ultimate goal these days.

What are your memories of Alan Shearer and Shay Given?

Didnt get to see much of Shay Given, though Alan Shearer was absolute class. The goals he could score, and the work he did off the ball was second to none. Legend.

How will the Premier run this season: top four in order and bottom three?

Chelsea, Man City, Man U, Arsenal. No real surprises there….As for relegation, it will be interesting, especially if Liverpool do go into administration!!! ( We can only wish?). I will go for Bolton, West Ham, Wolves

Have you forgotten the World Cup already? Do international breaks such as the current one fire you with patriotic fervour, or leave you cold?

Being a patriotic Aussie, international breaks are aways good. We always have a game or 2 lined up, and when they are in Sydney, makes it even sweeter. The World Cup was one of missed opportunity for us. We had absolutely no luck, but then again, our defensive tactics didn’t create any luck

Cheating – diving, feigning injury, trying to get opponents sent off or booked – is widespread. Is it time to abandon high-minded principles about the spirit of the game and fair play. and just accept that it has become an essential part of the footballer’s game? If not, how do we stamp it out?

I think more retrospective action needs to be taken.It can be extremely difficult for a ref to see these incidents, a panel should be able to adjudicate and issue fines, sanctions, etc…

Who are the best players you have ever seenin Rovers colours, and who would you like to have been spared seeing at all?

Tugay. Absolute legend. Controlled the midfield, directed play, and scored from 30 yards regularly. The Maestro! Also Brett Emerton, a true clubman, does what is asked an beyond. Worst player- let’s not go there, there have been a few blunders!!!

What is the best moment you’ve experienced in football, and what about the worst?

In July this year, Blackburn visited Australia! For those who have me on Facebook, they could see how much we enjoyed it, 3 games, thousand of photos and some great moments. Australia qualifying for the 2006 world cup after John Aloisi’s winning penalty against Uruguay was also a highlight.
As for lowlight, who could forget Grosso’s dive for Italy against Australia in extra time at the 2006 world cup quarterfinals…..devestating

Name one thing Rovers or the FA could do to make the game more enoyable or improve the fan’s exerience of attending football

Not to sure here, living in Australia means cant really comment on this one! Always thought an after game or half time penalty shoot out with the reserve players could always make for some entertainment!

What is your view of Sunderland – city, fans, club – if you have one? Always liked Sunderland to be honest. Good honest bunch of fans (from what i see on the site), hard working team who are plugging away just like us!

And what will be the score on Monday – and will you be there?

I will be watching it at 5am local Sydney time! 1-1 with Sunderland pinching a late equaliser!

* Tony Sassine on Tony Sassine

In 1992, at the age of five I chose the blue and white halves and stuck with it! I am now 23 and still a loyal Rover! As for what I do, I have completed an undergraduate degree in Sport and Exercise Science, and a currently studying my Masters of Secondary Education (High School). I work as a sales rep selling exercise equipment, and play soccer in the Sydney Amateur League.

I am also a Site Editor for Vital Blackburn, a website made by the fans, for the fans.

All the best guys!

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