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[Archived] Rovers vs Aston Villa preview

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Who Dares Wins

Blackburn Rovers vs Aston Villa

Saturday 3rd March 2012 – Ewood Park, Blackburn, Planet Earth

Not What Either Wanted

It’s not a great time to be a Rovers fan. Events on and off the pitch smack of a ‘club in crisis’, ‘approaching Armageddon’, ‘on the brink’ and generally being ‘a bag o’ Paul Calf’. However, these words could have been used for virtually any preview this season. What makes the forthcoming fixture against Aston Villa different is that the other team has had more than its own fair share of disquiet as well.

At the start of the campaign, Aston Villa appointed Alex McLeish as their manager after a 4 year spell at bitter rivals Birmingham City. This was seen by some as a ‘brave move’ but for many, a heinous act. McLeish was on a hiding to nothing but would be able to stem the antipathy with good performances and plenty of points.

When Rovers visited Villa Park in the infant days of this season, Villa’s win actually saw them propelled to the team of the league for a while. Maybe Villa fans had been too hasty? As the season has progressed though, the worst fears seem to be realised: generally lack lustre performances and a far lower league standing than demanded by the Holt End faithful. After this weekend’s results the two teams are just 8 points and 3 positions apart, with Villa just about an outside bet for relegation. A win for Rovers could get the claret and blue hewn team getting a wee bit jittery.

I'm Confused

Although both teams are having far from ideal seasons, with poor performances and generally disliked managers (baring 400 letters of support a day to Steve Kean from his mum), one thing separates the two clubs and that is the unity of the fans. Villa’s unhappiness hasn’t apparently lead to supporters getting narky with other supporters. This isn’t a criticism of the protests or the non-protests, but it is an alarming indictment of the shambles at Ewood that fans of 40 years plus can be so split with their fellow Rover that they can question the integrity of each other.

Whilst most clubs go through relative periods of disunity amongst the fan base, what is being witnessed here is quite something else. For example, it’s been announced that before the game, another protest (“the bigest eva” [sic]) is being held at Ewood. However, with everything that’s going on and all the groups springing up, it is rather difficult to keep tabs on who is protesting against what, when and where, and who is opposing this particular protest. I really hope Panini launch a “Blackburn Rovers Fan Groups 2012 Sticker Album” soon, otherwise I fear I will remain confused as to what is going on.

“Are you the Blackburn Rovers Activist Committee?” … “$@£% off! Blackburn Rovers Activist Committee! We’re the Activist Committee of Blackburn Rovers!” (actual supporters groups names changed to protect the innocent, well at time of writing anyway, but by the time you read this, the BRAC and ACBR may actually exist)

History Lesson

When you look at the recent history between the clubs it’s not good reading for Rovers. Out of the last 20 meetings, the standing is Rovers wins=4, Villa wins=14, draws=2. However, there remains a glimmer of hope – even if it is as fanciful as a Kean press conference. Rovers have managed to win the last 2 Premier League matches at Ewood.

Yes, that really is clutching at straws. Clutching at Straws is a good thing, especially if the Straw concerned is the Rt Hon Jack Straw, who you can then say is a member of your supporter group, the Committee of Blackburn Rovers Activists (CoBRA).

I would offer a word of caution though in considering this amazing home league record. Look at the composition of the team itself. This is the line up from the 2-0 in the 2010/11 season: Robinson; Salgado, Samba, Nelsen, Givet; Diouf, Dunn, Jones, Pedersen, Hoilett; Roberts. Not one of the back four will feature on Saturday, and it really would be a bold statement to say any is replaced by a better defender. Assuming that the Yak is fit, I suppose some comfort will be gained from having a better strikeforce at least.

If we look at the reverse fixture, a couple of interesting snippets emerge:

1. Current Spurs central defensive rock, Ryan Nelsen, played his last game for Rovers at Villa Park in the 3-1 loss. He’s been injured ever since, in case you didn’t know.

2. According to the rovers official website match report, “new boy Radosav Petrovic showed enough in his fifteen minutes that he could be some player”. The website doesn’t elaborate as to what sport.

Out of This World Support

As we know only too well, season 2011/12 has been scary stuff for fans of both Rovers and Villa. In fact, it is fair to say that it is worthy of the old Doctor Who cliché of “watching from behind the sofa”. So it perhaps is apt that 2 of the 3 current TARDIS crew are fans of the two teams.

In case you don’t know, Timelord Matt Smith is known to be passionate about Rovers, including speaking out against the current regime (without as yet aligning himself with any of the supporters groups and we have a celebrity fan who isn't Jim Bowen or Wayne Hemingway). Meanwhile, Arthur Darvill, who plays Rory Williams, is a devout villain, even appearing in a (very) short film wearing a Villa dressing gown.

Unfortunately, both actors are busy filming the next series in Cardiff at the moment and couldn’t pop round to BetaRay Towers for an indepth interview; nor could I even tease out of them a prediction via the wonders of twitter. But I tried. I guess they are just too busy unmasking Steve Kean as an android created by the inhabitants of the planet Venkee to destroy the club from within on behalf of a platoon of Burnley supporting Daleks. (At least that would explain a lot.)

The Fans View

Although Messrs Smith & Darvill are definitely more than the usual lightweight tag-along celeb fan, it is probably easier for us to relate to people who haven’t managed to smooch with Karen Gillan* so I asked two of good friends of mine for their views on the match in true brfcs.com style…

Hello, who are you and why Villa?

Rob Cramp, my local team and my father took me down when I was a kid.

My Name is Karl Pardoe and I was born in an area of the West Midlands, known as the Black Country. Local options for football teams were Wolverhampton Wanders & West Bromwich Albion. I went against the rest of the family and followed Aston Villa. Not a popular choice but Villa had a great deal of success back in those days and one trip to the Holte End and I was sold.

How do you see the season so far and where from here? Do you see yourself making a last gasp dash for Europe, or are you going to be dragged into the relegation mire?

Season is how I thought it would pan out, I also think that we will be lucky to stay out of the relegation fight.

The season so far has been a major disappointment. Villa players used to make up a reasonable part of the England team and in recent seasons we have sold the star players. Gareth Barry, James Milner & Ashley Young to name a few. After successive seasons aiming for European places, Villa appear to be doing their best to get dragged into a relegation dog fight. This is not a happy period for long suffering Villa fans.

There was a little bit of disquiet when your manager was appointed what with him being recruited from the fans' mortal enemies (as opposed to Rovers manager who seems to have been appointed by the fans' mortal enemies). Has time mellowed the sentiment?

Not really but I think it is more about the style of play rather than where he came from

Positive results and performances may change the sentiment but there is a lot of work to be done. The style of football is grim and lacking commitment and I doubt that the disquiet with change for some time.

Would you swap the two managers?

No thanks

Not at this stage of the season. I would appear that neither club has the resources to attract top flight managers or players. The Blackburn performances have improved greatly in recent games and it would be difficult to see anyone else making a significant change. Villa will probably be safe. After the season ends both clubs should consider their options.

Is there anyone in the Rovers' squad you would like to swap – and why?

I would have said Chris Samba, see next question!!! We need a solid defender as we are leaking too many goals.

Yakubu in his current form would be an asset to any team so I’d be happy to have him at Villa. As for whom to swap him for….. Anyone but Shay Given.

If I can bring up the subject of Richard Dunne. I remember discussing with you that when he signed he was a bit of liability. With 712 own goals since then, was I right?

He has his moments and could do with laying off the cakes a bit but he has also been outstanding for us in the past but these games are getting few and far between now. I hate to think how much weight he will need to lose once he comes back after the broken collarbone!!!

No real problems with Richard Dunne. His performances show commitment which is not something that can be said for the whole team. If we scored plenty, then the odd own goal would not be such an issue.

For a few seasons, Rovers and Villains played each other more or less every week. Are you disappointed this is only the second encounter this year?

Yes as we need the boost of winning, only joking. I think it will be a very tight game as both sides cannot afford to lose.

There have certainly been a lot of recent fixtures! With a 3-1 home win last time we played, more frequent fixtures would be nice!!

With both clubs in foreign ownership, what are your views on this?

I am glad we have an American owner as they do appear to know how to run a sports business, not so sure about your owners though with their big plans with no money to complete them

Foreign ownership can be a good thing providing there is some genuine hands on management of the club and investment can be seen by the fans. I appreciate that the ownership at Blackburn is perhaps a little too remote.

Football financing is very much in the news at the moment, could you ever see Villa ending up like Rangers? Or conversely, are they attractive enough to be taken over ala Man City?

Neither at the moment with the current owners. Randy Learner is very focused on his money so I do not see the Administration issues but on the flip side we will not be good enough to attract the bigger spending buyers. I must say though I am happy to see the club ticking along and not doing a Leeds, Portsmouth etc who have over spent in the pursuit of success and end up in the lower divisions when they have to sell all of their star players.

I don’t foresee a financial collapse at Villa ala Rangers, but it would be foolish to think that it couldn’t happen. If we did drop out of the Premiership for any extended period, difficulties could arise. This said, I do think that Villas would be an attractive proposition for other investors. It’s the largest club in the second largest city in the UK and should be in a much higher position in the table.

Kum Ba Yah – how crap is that as a song to adapt for football?

Nuff said

Man U fans singing about Paul Scholes to the Kum Ba Yah tune says it all. CRAP

And finally, what do you see the scoreline being?

Tight game, score draw, probably 1-1

Likely to be a tighter game than the first. With Villa becoming draw specialists I’m going for 1-1.

And from me, I think we might just keep a clean sheet for the first time this season. I’m going for 2-0 Rovers. But I’m on a different planet.

* unless Rob and Karl have been keeping something very quiet

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This will be my first ever Rovers match in Ewood Park.

From which stand should I get my seat? And what is the best place for pre-match pint?

Pai Pot,

If you want to be in with the singing fans, then get a ticket in the Darwen End. If you want the best view then get a seat in the Jack Walker Upper (as close to the middle as possible).

As for a pre-match pint, then you can't beat Uncle Jacks in Lower Darwen.

Enjoy your trip !!!

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I really enjoyed this preview it has really made my day even this bit:

(baring 400 letters of support a day to Steve Kean from his mum) :lol:

absolute classic maybe the press could next time ask coco to show them these letters of support as to their exact origin.

I do feel we have the ability to win this game but only if the correct tactics are employed IMO coco has to set his team up with Hoilett running straight at Warnock and putting him on the back foot looking at Warnock recently he is the definite weak link in the villa defence and Hoilett could have a lot of joy against him as he does make a lot of mistakes for a defender. Hopefully with a bit of luck Bent will be out with this ankle knock could give us half a chance and hope coco does not do his best to lose this one like changing formations when things are going well. :wacko:

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Sorry, I'm the Finnish version. Quite bland compared to the original Norwegian one (Turbonegro).

I not sure Matty even knew there was a Norwegian one! ;):lol:

Hope you enjoy the... erm... experience! All the best mate.

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With Dunne and Bent out and with Keane going back to MLS then surely we must be a little more optimistic going into this game.

We definitely need Petrovic out of the starting line-up and should be starting with 2 up front.

I'm going to be optimistic and go for a 3-0 HOME win.

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In terms of injuries at Villa that's great news for us.

However looking across our team... you have to ask the question who is actually in form at the moment? Yak, Robinson. Um, that's about it. Defence has gone from looking well staffed if poorly organised at the start of the season to poorly staffed and poorly organised. Orr at right back seems extremely dodgy, to the poin where I would consider playing Lowe or Henley?

Team for me:-






Our attack is alright. Actually probably better than theirs. But the defence... christ. Samba would make such a difference.

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Team for me:-






Our attack is alright. Actually probably better than theirs. But the defence... christ. Samba would make such a difference.

No N'Zonzi? I think Lowe and Givet are still missing as well.

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