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[Archived] The Year In Review


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Since Bob gave up, there hasn't been a review of the month any more. Such a shame as it really was a monthly highlight. No one ever stepped forward to keep it going, probably because it's a difficult act to follow, but why not take it in turns, like with the match previews? It's only more hassle for the mods after all! To kick off, I thought it might be nice to look back on a year of lows, slightly higher lows and general apathy.

Anyone remember how we started the year? Ninth place with thirty points after an arguably fortuitous win away at the mighty Derby County. Some of us still had a bitter taste in the mouth from that 5-3 defeat at the JJB, but at least that particular result was most likely a blip never to be repeated in the future, eh?

Meanwhile, across the border in Yorkshire, the dingles (who were starting to pick up under new manager Owen Coyle) lose 3-0 to Blackpool and the local yokels begin to call for the new manager's head. They had decided Nicko's pal did not cut the mustard and was not the man to bring a spark of light to The Darkest Place in All The World TM.

Anyhoo, next up Sunderland – a team "World Class" manager Roy Keane was moulding in his own image – tough but thick. Through terrible weather, a worse performance and a Benni Mac penalty we emerged victorious and minds wandered to the Champions League places which were only six points away. Only one or two at BRFCS were worried about the lack of interest some of our players had. "All may not be well in the Rovers camp" said they, "If we close our eyes it isn't happening" said we. "Top Four or we Failed" said David Rentaquote Bentley.

Champions League… Sure, our squad was a little stretched and lacking, but the transfer window had just been smashed open (I love using these tabloid techniques) and Nicko was on hand to hint at the wonderful names being touted at Ewood, and indeed possible outgoings:

Santa Cruz to Tottenham, Bentley to Tottenham, Pezzonni to Blackburn (and straight out to Tottenham), Friedel to Villa (Oh how I laughed at the possibility when a mate at work told me this and I told him not be so stupid), Amdy Faye, Ben Haim, Beckham, Koumas, Sidwell, blah, blah.

Money became a hot topic. Do we have any? Wouldn't it be funny if we pretended we had plenty of money whereas really we didn't? How long would we get away with it? How much money would the impending and imminent takeover give us? Just some of the questions most of us probably weren't asking at the time.

Nicko's thread became the most viewed, most posted on and most pointless several times and back. Only pointless as once you asked a question, or answered it, your post was up to fifteen pages too late and appeared to answer another one. All this was too much for the poor chap on Sky Sports news who was using BRFCS as his only source, and proceeded to have a stroke on air.

So who left and who arrived? Our squad was bolstered by the loss of Robbie Savage to Derby. Never been the same since that tackle, shame. Luckily in came Jonathon Flynn from Ballykissangelorsomethingorother United, and we never looked back (except for me of course researching this). The saviour of our defence Eddie Nolan was also snapped up by Hartlepool. Jeff Stelling was clearly ecstatic.

The lack of a big name signing made Nicko's thread pointless on another level, so several poster decided to hound him about Rover's finances, which is fair enough since our lack of money and investment can be traced to a Scottish journalist with a soft spot for our club.

Philipl tried to take some of the pressure off Nicko by explaining the full predicament of our finances. The crux of the matter, so it seemed to me, was that the board had put our money into the One Account and couldn't work out how to create a balance for new players where wages could be offset against interest from a hedge fund. I might have dreamt that bit, or got confused with my own life.

Back with BRFCS, the multi-faith room provided us with the opportunity for some intelligent debate. Instead we decided to re-establish deep rooted beliefs and bicker. That is until Rovers saw sense and turned it into a Stewards room of some sort, which we promptly united in condemning.

The writing seemed to be on the wall at Ewood (not just the No Drinks Past This Point signs, either). Bentley's interest waned, seemingly taking his lead from Sparky, who seemed disappointed not to have been considered for the Toon job after Sam Allardyce was sacked by mutual consent. Sam seemed happy enough to be out of footballs front line and we were gleeful too. It's a funny old game.

What else happened that season? Not much. To cut a story short, we appeased Bents by 'failing' having finished a lowly 7th – no Europe seeing as those places were stolen through freak cup results. This enabled his move to a top four club, and Sparky decided he had taken us as far as he could and began work on engineering a move to Chelsea. Both Bentley and Hughes managed to achieve their goals by joining Spurs (the 5th top four club who finished 11th) and Man City (the 6th top four club who finished 9th).

We needed a new leader. It came down to Sam Allardyce, Steve McClaren and ten cats. Sam was a non starter because:

  • He used to be at Bolton, big rivals, unforgivable
  • The fans begged John Williams not to appoint him, and
  • There were better candidates than this Newcastle disaster.

Steve McClaren wasn't given the job because he's Steve McClaren. The ten cats weren't given the job because that would have been silly.


Out of those three, Paul Ince was appointed and immediately BRFCS displayed IPS Driver faults.

The mods will have you thinking this is some serverside issue or t'interweb jiggery pokery, but the IPS Driver is actually an Inappropriate Post System, installed at the height of the 'discussions' with regard to religion and creed in ICBINF. It was designed to alert all mods if any post is made containing anything which could be deemed to be what is technically known as "a bit jingoistic" (I can't put racist in case that Oliver Holt is looking). Because we appointed The First English Black Manager In The Premier League (the word English being added when someone remembered about Ruud Gullit), the Inappropriate Post System kicked in pre-emptively and spontaneously combusted, destroying 33% of the internet in the process. Luckily, that 33% only contained Iceland's banks websites, some credit companies and Woolworths stock databases and no ill effects have been felt since.

Paul immediately promised to take us into the bottom three during his press conference and the board was split. Half of us were against the appointment, half of us wanted him to have his chance and the other half couldn't count.

Almost immediately, concrete proof of player unrest began to surface, from friends of grannies of hairdressers of wives of stewards from Uruguay which is a bit like Paraguay which is where someone who knows someone who knows Roque Santa Cruz's dad. Nicko came in for more stick for not telling us in January that Ince would get the job, and for posting such tripe as Brad Friedel and Paul Ince having 'history'. The swine.

In came Mathias and Knox, which did much to fuel the Ince debate. We all knew, however, that we needed quality players in. Friedel had a Jerry Maguire moment and upped ship so in came Paul Robinson. This again split opinion – did Ince force Brad out, or did Brad do it for the money? No-one seemed to realise it was probably both. When Robbo came my spurs supporting mate at work assured me he would do well for us. He did look very much like the Romans in Life of Brian sniggering at Biggus Dickus, though…


A quick flick through Youtube led to the signing of Villanueva, a young Mexican hot from winning a F1 world championship not long ago when he used to be French. The video did the rounds rapidly, leading to mass hysteria and excitement. Obviously, Ince couldn't get Football Manager working on his computer which would have told him Carlos was only a current ability rating of 130…

Danny Simpson came on loan from our local friendly best team in the world. Highly recommended by many of my United supporting friends. "He can head a ball", they said. "Mark Atkins could head a ball" I thought.

That wasn't it though. Having lost Bentley, and desperately in need of a right winger, we splashed £4m on Vince Grella. Vince was described as a similar sort of player to Mokoena and Vogel, but more prone to injury. Not content with that, we spent a further £1m on Keith Andrews, described as a similar sort of player to Vince Grella. But not as good. Mark Bunn signed to, but his name just doesn't lend itself to any type of joke. At some point, Sergio Peter was lost down the back of a sofa.

Apparently, with just minutes left of the transfer window, the club thought about considering perhaps making a phone call about a right winger, but decided against it because the clubs best right back was now the clubs best right winger by default. Meanwhile a big ruckus was occurring in Manchester – Berbatov was kidnapped by Man U, and Robhino mistakenly signed for Man City. He came to England and signed for the team that play in blue and have more money than anyone else. He was a little shocked when he realised, but spoke with the manager and the other players, had a tour of the stadium and facilities and saw how many zeroes were on the end of his weekly payslip and calmed down. Then the transfer window closed. I assume it was simply pulled gently to and locked rather than slammed, but as I didn't read a red top at the time I couldn't be sure.

The pre season friendlies were a mixed bag. A win at Benfica and defeat at the Molinyou (spell it like you say it, cock). Some rumblings surfaced about players having to do press ups during training. Justified complaints too, because they directly gave Villanueva the chicken pox. Not that anyone noticed (he's no George Clooney…).

The new season began with a "Brand New Stadium Tour" advertised by the club website. It's still the same stadium, but no-one has asked for their money back. Apathy, eh?

A 3-2 win at Goodison took us into the Champions League Places. Thank God for Andre Ooizhe. The draw against Hull is where the real danger signs began. Poor defending let the new boys equalize and many posters were angry with just a point. It's not like Hull were going to go on and have any sort of success in the season after all.

It was clear we were going to need extra fire power up front so Incey called in a favour and offered a pie as you play contract to his landlord who had scored an impressive four goals in the Championship the season before. The fans were buzzing at the prospect of such a household name playing in the famous blue and white halves. Contracts were also offered to Ian Rush, Neil Ruddock and Peter Beardsley.

An unbeaten September gave us cause for hope, good wins against Fulham, Newcastle and Everton kept us in the cup and in seventh place. OK, we had a goal difference of -4, and looked shaky at the back. The remedy that, in came Nigel Winterburn as Defence coach. What's the worst that could happen?

Almost three months later, with three points out of 33 and a resounding defeat in the League Cup at the hands of Carlos Tevez playing on his own, we had our answer.

The fifty-fifty split on Ince became 60-40, measurable thanks to the regular polls. It wasn't Ince's fault, or his methods or his tactics. Oh no, it was the media's, and the board's, and the player's and whoever else he could blame. By 6th December, despite huge pressure, Ince was still in a job and called for a good performance against Liverpool. The performance came, but the result didn't and a visibly shaken Ince begged for more time. John Williams hung up on Graeme Souness and granted him another game

Across the border, as if to compound matters, the Burnley fans had decided Nicko's pal Coyle was bringing back the good times and was just the man to bring a spark of light to The Darkest Place in All The World TM.

The positivity coming out of Blackburn Rovers in the build up to the game at the JJB was encouraging. Dunn had called a players meeting where everyone apparently agreed what a smashing guy Paul Ince is and to play their very best. We fans even attempted optimism. Optimism for a Rovers fan is a bit like knives and forks to a Burnley fan - you are aware of the benefit, but it seems a bit new-fangled to bother with.

Nonetheless, we managed a whole ten minutes of it against Wigan before we reverted to type. The performance was a shambles and ultimately led to Paul Ince having a quite family Christmas. John Williams said he had to act, which he did, seeing as he is after all in charge and the board had decided his time was up. Apparently he took it well (though the compensation package no doubt softened the blow). Sorry Paul, it could have been so much more but it wasn't to be.

The media had a field day with this racist decision to sack Ince so quickly. Oliver Holt quickly identified websites such as BRFCS as some sort of Nazi regime, which threatened to spark off the IPS Driver again.

So back into the manager market we went and before we could even put together a credible list of fantastical names (I wanted Nanny McPhee or The Stig), Sam Allardyce was appointed, because:

  • He used to be at Bolton, similar size club similar resources
  • The fans were begging John Williams to appoint him, and
  • He was a top candidate – almost appointed England manager, you know.

Sam's impact has been immediate – a three nil win against Stoke. The first win in twelve games, the first clean sheet ever, and some more bickering about if he is the right man to lead Rovers forward. For me, if he leads us sideways from last year, I am happy.

That's where I am going to end, on account of having finished. Thanks for reading my ramble, and Bob, kudos for what I now understand to be a bloody difficult job (is kudos really a word? It doesn't have a red squiggle under it in Word so it must be). Who's next?

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:lol: I just re-read it to see if I missed anything and nearly choked on my breakfast when I read

So back into the manager market we went and before we could even put together a credible list of fantastical names (I wanted Nanny McPhee or The Stig),

Some say the Stig's tears cure Aids...to bad he never cries.

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Thanks for reading my ramble, and Bob, kudos for what I now understand to be a bloody difficult job (is kudos really a word? It doesn't have a red squiggle under it in Word so it must be). Who's next?

Kudos to you Wolverine. That was superb stuff. Cheers!

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