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The Fleming Report - February


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The February Report by Bob Fleming

So here comes a review of good old February! Roll your sleeves up, put your best foot forward, bolt the door, sit back, get the tranquilisers out and let’s look back at what many experts consider to be the shortest month of the year.

Wednesday 01 February - First up was the visit of our friends from Manchester and all over the UK, Ireland, Malta, Neptune…. “and Preston!”, the fans of Manchester freaking United. This was the third time we’d played the self proclaimed “Biggest club in the World”, in three weeks. How privileged were we?

Blackburn Rovers 4 - Manchester United 3. What a game. Those who stopped coming to Ewood this season must be kicking themselves by missing nights like this. Yet again we were thoroughly entertained. Bentley scored a hat trick! A hat trick! I’d forgotten we were allowed to get them. First goal was a tap in that our David took well, second was a tap in that our David took well following a great assist from “England’s New Holding Midfielder” Rio Ferdinand and the third was a great finish that our David took very well indeed. Neill scored the other from a penalty (cool as you like). The linesman who pointed out the hand ball by Wesley Brown will never work again.

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They got some goals but we were blatantly toying with them. Kuqi even missed a relatively easy chance on purpose just to add to the suspense towards the end. Gormless Rio was sent off for two bookable offences, the second saw Robbie Savage carried off in a coffin with a gashed shin. Ouch.

Sir Alex Ferguson may well have had a drink or seven before the post match TV interview as he came out with the biggest load of tripe I’ve heard since the speeches at last Summers Tripe Sales Convention. I don’t want to go over old ground for long but RFW said that he “can’t defend Mark’s teams style of play” (perhaps he should be more concerned with defending his own team that can’t defend?), the penalty shouldn’t have been given because although Brown handled, the keeper would have caught it anyway?!? Oh, and there should have been 26 minutes of injury time, 26 minutes?!? Sorry Sir Alex but I think you’d better take Mickey in to get fixed, one of his arms must have fallen off.

It was the ramblings of a mad man, if anyone else had come out with that then the interviewer would have just said “Sorry, I need to stop you there? Quite frankly you’re talking out of your arse.”

Anyway, enough of him and that lot. We went top of the form league having won five and drawn one of our last six league games, even better than Chelsea, fortunately the transfer window had shut before Abramovich could buy our entire first team squad. OK, maybe not………

Thursday 02 February – Mark Sparky Hughes responds to Sir Alex’s drivel; “He’s always got a lot to say for himself that one. Why doesn’t he just f*** off?” or was that the month before with Gary Neville? Either way, it would’ve made perfect sense.

Elsewhere, ex-Rovers boss Souness today became ex-Newcastle boss Souness. What next for him I wonder? And Rovers sign a sponsorship deal with BET24 that will see their name on the front of our shirt for the next three seasons earning the club £6 million in the process.

Saturday 04 February - West Brom 2 – Rovers 0. It was all a case of after the Lord Mayor’s Show apparently. I didn’t even know it was on. Who is the Lord Mayor? Will I have heard of him? Does he support Rovers? Does he go to the games? Was there a big do or something? Why wasn’t I invited? I take it you lot all went? Were the players there? Were they drinking and that? Were they pulling girls / hamstrings and what have you? More questions than answers after this game for me, mainly all revolving around the Lord Mayor’s Show.

Sloppy defending gave West Brom two goals in the first half. Game over. Campbell and Greening were the scorers. Yeah, right. Like you’re even interested. I don’t know why I bother.

Saturday 11 February – The LET report that Mark Hughes will apply for Rovers to enter the Intertoto Cup should we miss out on one of the automatic European places. Incentive enough you’d have thought for the players to get back to business against Everton.

First game for a week! First time for a while that Rovers had had a free week, the previous week didn’t help, away at West Ham, Man Utd at home on the Wednesday and then The Lord Mayors bleeding Show to fit in before WBA on the Saturday.

Everton 1 – Rovers 0. Their keeper was sent off for picking the ball up outside his penalty area. Stupid boy. We played 10 men for 80 minutes and predictably lost 1-0. Ex Youth Rover James Beattie with the header. I type this on February 14th. I think we’d still be there now looking for a goal. I know what we’ll do, we’ll not shoot from the edge of the area against Everton’s fourth choice keeper, we’ll just keep putting crosses in for Pongole and Bellamy, they only have Stubbs and Weir to beat in the air.

As an aside, Andy Neild in the LET points out that many Rovers fans will now be frantically looking through their maps of Eastern Europe to see who we might get in the Intertoto. You’re not wrong there Andy, what a great night in that was. Fun for all the family.

Wednesday 15 February. Rovers 2 - Sunderland 0. A welcome win! Giving us 6 points in the month of February and up to 7th in the league, our highest position this season. All good stuff. Looking back we’d have probably taken a point against ManU and a point against a resurgent Everton and ended up with a draw at battling WBA – but it doesn’t always work like that though does it?

Sunderland were poor, and it was easy to see why they only have 10 points this season. I’m not one for picking individuals out or naming names but I thought **Nyron Nosworthy** was absolutely dreadful. The Welsh weasel scored twice and was the difference between the two teams. His second, a header from a precise and extremely efficient cross from the German Peter, was brilliantly taken. Having said that we made hard work of it really until the second went in.

A quick word about the attendance. I’m fed up with all this “There was only 18,000 on” stuff. Let’s look at things differently and apportion blame on those who deserve it. Approximately 142,000 people in Blackburn & Darwen didn’t turn up.

In fairness that’s just as well as there wasn’t room, but what a problem to have that would’ve been?

So, the chances of us playing in the Intertoto Cup receded just a little, which is undoubtedly a good thing. I really don’t want Blackburn Rovers to be knocked out by a team from such places as Tit (Austria), Tos (Russia), Minge (Lithuania) or Crap (Albania). It would make the Trelleborg episode seem like a lottery win. However, recalling some graffiti from the other side of Accy about that infamous Trelleborgs game, Burnley being twinned with Crap does seem to make much more sense.

Thursday 16 February. Rovers now embark on a mid season break to top holiday destination for rich people: Dubai, Pwllheli, North Wales. It was good of the lads to have saved up and each put £10 a week away since September to pay for this jolly.

So, no game until Arsenal now in nine days time.

Monday 20 February – Rovers go back to court over the Martin Dahlin insurance money. Rovers need to prove that Dahlin was a good and fit footballer for BRFC before he was injured in training sometime after he signed. Unfortunately, despite average gates of the time of well over 20,000 Rovers are unable to call on any witnesses.

Tuesday 21 February – It’s quiet, almost too quiet. Not much going on at all. Then all of a sudden burnley fc columnist, Stephen Cummins lightens the mood in the LET with his headline “Clarets have made me a broken man.” Just as the gap was closing as well. That’ll be the gap between burnley and Accy Stanley then.

Saturday 25 February – 1-0 in the Bernabeu scream the T-Shirts being sold outside the Away supporters haven that is the Fernhurst pub. All very well that, I thought, but we’ll give you more of a game today.

Blackburn Rovers 1 – Arsenal 0. Well, we’ve done it again. What Hughes has achieved with these players is nothing short of outstanding. A deserved win. Fantastic performances from many but notably Bellamy and Todd. Savage’s “header” back to Brad will live long in the memory and that Jens Lehmann really is a big girl’s blouse though isn’t he? All credit to Sav for not going down when Lehmann squirted him with Lucozade, and some people say there are no hard men in football anymore?

So we’re up to fifth. Spurs away is the next game, it could see us go level on points with them in fourth position. This really is unbelievable stuff. I’d settle for a UEFA spot right now personally but as Hughes is showing, perhaps you should always aim high? After all you get nothing for aiming low. The players are showing a real belief and a desire to win that we haven’t seen for a few years. Maybe we can do it? Maybe this is our time? Seize the moment! (or Carpe Diem as they say in Wales)

Well, we can dream.

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