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[Archived] Wigan Preview


Stuart

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Drawing a line under the Stoke match - as each of us will in our own time over the next few days - and particularly as I wrote most of this prior to it, here's a look forward, and backward, to Wigan...

December 13th 2008 - JJB Stadium, Wigan

ince-bruce_1205455c.jpg

The Great Man U Conspiracy

Brucie: Are you sure you want to go lower?

Incie: I can't take them any lower - bloody Baggies!

Inevitibly this game will be most remembered as the point of no return for Paul Ince since it proved to be the game that finally ended his association with Blackburn Rovers Football Club - although some would say his spectre haunts us still. His entourage - including former Wigan manager Raymond "The-most-positive-dressing-room-in-the-league" Matthias - followed him out of door a few days later. In fact, we probably owe a debt of thanks to Wigan for enabling our board to finally see, albeit long overdue, exactly how bad things had got under Ince and his cronies - much to the relief of most Rovers supporters and certainly all of those who witnessed this debacle. Hopefully it will not be proven too late.

When we played last December, Wigan were sitting pretty:

- 9th in the table

- 3 points off 7th

- Dreaming of Europe

Blackburn were in a less fortunate position:

- 19th in the table

- 5 points from safety and just 1 point off the bottom - and but for a priceless 89th minute equaliser from Andrews against the only team worse than us (at that time) we would have been propping up the league ourselves

- Having nightmares about relegation and oblivion

The game was effectively over after the first 10 minutes much to the disgust of the disillusioned travelling supporters who were turning on the manager; the players; the Wigan fans; the stewards; and each other.

Although the 3-0 defeat made disappointing reading (to say the least), it probably wasn't the scoreline which tipped the balance as much as the awful run we were already on and, more pointedly, the abject performance and absolute surrender so early in the game. It didn't get any better during the match - with the exception of Dunny's early return from injury - probably too early as it proved and was further evidence of the desperation around the club. The atmosphere on the coach on the journey back to Blackburn after that game was as bad as I've experienced following a match.

The wound will heal in time - providing Rovers manage to stave off the threat of relegation. Fail to survive and there will be more than a few fingers pointed at the board for waiting as long as the Wigan game to do the necessary. (Although there will probably be many people who will point the finger at Big Sam too). I would fall into the former category rather than the latter.

Present Day

Flash forward 4 months (if only we could) and in their 16 games since, Wigan's form has been fairly indifferent: W5 D4 L7 (including going out of the FA Cup at the first attempt) but they still find themselves sitting pretty, mainly down the the lack of improvement by just about everyone below them:

- 10th in the table

- 3 points off 7th

- Still dreaming of Europe (which if they reach will probably be viewed as a distraction next season!)

Since then Rovers have rallied under Sam Allardyce, and having played 4 more games than Wigan due to our FA Cup matches/replays, the stats are: W7 D8 L6 (and whether you accept it or not, or agree with the tactics, our only defeats have come against - at the time - top 4 sides plus our exit from the FA Cup). EDIT: Plus a very disappointing loss at Stoke - although they have been very mean at home this season.

We still find ourselves rooted at the wrong end of the Premier League:

- 17th in the table

- 6 points of the magic 40 mark and 3 off the drop zone

- Having recurring nightmares about relegation and oblivion

26th April 2009, Ewood Pack, Blackburn

Traditionally the Blackburn-Wigan fixture has been a 6-point-a-season encounter for Rovers. However, in more recent times Wigan have improved under Steve Bruce and the last couple of seasons have seen us lose (heavily) at the JJB but then go on to win at Ewood - if we can keep up this trend it will go a long way to securing both our Premier League and Football Club future.

To an extent these two clubs have swapped roles this season as we find ourselves in the opposite ends of the table from what we could call normal. The incentive for an already safe Wigan side is to push on to a highest ever Premier League finish. But hopefully though they'll still be a little ring-rusty come Sunday, having had a longer rest period than most following their defeat to Arsenal. It's also possible that the unlikeliness of, and possibly lack of appetite for, getting into Europe - combined with already having reached the elusive 40 points total and survival - will mean they take their eye off the ball. Bruce's professionalism will be driving him on to ensure that they don't but I do wonder about the players' mentality. Certainly all talk on the official Wigan site smacks of job done rather than a job still to do so here's hoping!

On the injuries front, Roque (knee/sulk) and Roberts (ankle/foot) should hopefully make the squad as should Pedersen with Emerton and Reid still our longer term absentees. Wigan are likely to have Zaki (hamstring) and N'Zogbia (knee) back following their recent problems.

I don't like to predict scores but I quite fancy a symbolic victory as the perfect way to make a big statement on behalf of the Club, Players, Fans, and Sam himself, that the right choice was made in replacing Ince with Allardyce. If nothing else the contrast in performance, by largely the same players needs to be a stark one compared to that dark December day. It's all eggs into this basket hopefully Roberts is fit to play in this one. Never thought I'd say this but in our current position I'd chose him over the pouting Satna Cruz.

Jason-Roberts-001.jpg

Here's hoping we see Jason smiling like this on Sunday!

Once again I intend to follow up with a Q&A from a Wigan supporting mate.

C'mon you Blues!

P.S. Apologies for the opening Ince picture - it hurt me when I first saw it too!

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For a moment I forgot sbouth the stoke debacle.

Wigan are going to come to Ewood with pace, strength and purpose.

Rovers may well find themselves bottom 2 come kick off.

I am, going corporate but only because if we lose I have had the fill of poor home games, a lack of effort and 3everyhing assocaited witj Ince.

I am, lashed but nejoying my pizza.

1-0 Rovers

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If Andrews and especially Moko play this game then we have no chance. It has to be Dunny and Grella in midfield.

Dunn/Grella would definately be the preferable choice... I think we could POSSIBLY get away with Dunn/Axe... but no other combination. If Grella is fit he has to start. We didn't pay 4M for the bloke to sit on the bench, time to prove his worth, if indeed he has any.

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We have been so poor recently that surely we have to bounce back in this one. This has to be the most winnable game - barring WBA on the last day - of all our remaining fixtures.

Wigan may be in the top half but after their January sales they seem to have had their run for a European place cut out from under them.

A win here and we would be in touching distance of safety.

Not sure where the goals are going to come from however...

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Coming over to Ewood for the very first time for this game, so better be a win :-)

Hopefully we'll have some more attacking options, which is fundamental to getting something from this.

Going for a 2-1 Rovers and a fun trip for me!

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It could well be that both Wigan games define Rovers season. The players owe it to the paying public and even their own pride to show up next week as the game at the JJB was a disgrace.

This is from the relegation thread. I'd just like to add that of all the players out there that day I think Warnock needs a MOTM performance.

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Well this is as close to a 'must win' game as you can get.

I'd stick with the back four from the Stoke match. I'd like to see Grella and Dunn too depending on fitness, then Benni and hopefully Roberts.

I'm hoping that Wigan, after selling in January, the issues with Zaki and reaching 41pts, aren't really up for it. Their last couple of results 4-0 loss to Everton and 4-1 to Arsenal give me a glimmer of hope. Or am I being too postive?

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Coming over to Ewood for the very first time for this game, so better be a win :-)

Hopefully we'll have some more attacking options, which is fundamental to getting something from this.

Going for a 2-1 Rovers and a fun trip for me!

Ta Morten med tilbake til Norge etter kampen.......please :-)

If we're going to win this one we need to overhaul the midfield and use Dunny, Grella and Tugay. None will last a full game so I would start with Dunny and Grella and see what happens. Get the ball down and play football.

With regard to Andrews, Mokoena and Pedersen, well, if you continue to pick Championship players, the Championship is where you'll end up.

Robinson

Ooijer Samba Nelson Givet

Diouf Dunn Grella Me (reluctantly Pedersen)

Benni Roberts

Ha en god tur L4M....Ewood, ikke Drammen, i regn!

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Ta Morten med tilbake til Norge etter kampen.......please :-)

Ha en god tur L4M....Ewood, ikke Drammen, i regn!

Amen to whatever that means :)

Presty...we still on for our usual bet :lol: ??

No prediction from me, I'm always wrong.

Tight game, we have to make sure we don't concede early. Nelsen was magnificent yesterday, hope he carries on his form.

Anyone know the figures of how much we've sold in the Darwen End? Last I heard was 1000, 3 days after they went on sale.

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im sure i read jason roberts is likely to be back for this game??

I will be amazed if we see Roberts again this season.

Defoe was a Spurs sub today after 8 weeks out with a stress fracture of his foot - similar injury to Jason.

Our only hope is Santa Cruz!?!

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This is from the relegation thread. I'd just like to add that of all the players out there that day I think Warnock needs a MOTM performance.

Too true! Fully agree with you there speeeeeeedie that was a shocking showing earlier in the season, we need the win so bad but I don't hold much hope after Saturday! I will be behind them 100% as usual but if the pride and passion in the badge they wear is not evident then I will be expecting major kicks up the backside from us in the stands and the guy in the technical area.

I'm not one for getting on the players backs and always participate in doing my upmost and giving my all from the stands but how some of these guys have the cheek to pick up the pay packets that they do is beyond me. I'm not saying that effort is lacking to a great extent but these are 'premiership players' taking home premiership paypackets and they have driven many a fan I know away from the game due to this reason. There are many of us, me included, that will get a season ticket next season in this league or the championship but it will be purely out of blind love of this club and that's all, but on the other hand I fully understand those that don't as people in the main are paying to be entertained and for a long while now at Ewood it has been non-existant Hughes/Ince/Allardyce all included. If you are winning you can just about get away with it but this season particularly we have not. If we are to stay up I am looking for a major clearout and would be happy if only maybe five or six of the players to have appeared this season survive the cull. Any way I could go on and on but this isnt the thread to do it.

COME ON ROVERS LET'S HAVE THE LATICS :brfcsmilie:

Heart wants 3-0, head says 1-0 or 2-0 if we are very lucky. Dont care what the result is but dont walk off that pitch without the three points please lads :rover:

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Much as anyone might want to do so, it won't do any good to get on the players' backs, we need to back them. They have to play i without key colleagues and they need our support. We've been through all the arguments and there's not a lot of point in keeping on and on about it all, it isn't going to change our situation with injuries etc; when the players go out on the field for the remaining matches of the season they need us there to cheer them on.

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