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[Archived] News Article -> 2011/12 Match Report: Rovers 2 Liverpool 3

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Blackburn Rovers (1) 2 – 3 (2) Liverpool
Yakubu 36, (pen) 61 Maxi 13, 16, Carroll 90 + 1
Referee: A. Taylor Attendance: 23,571

In 51 years of supporting Blackburn Rovers this is undoubtedly the lowest I have ever felt. The fact that the team is not very good — let's be honest, it has been a complete and utter embarrassment at times — is neither here nor there. Goodness knows over the years we have witnessed some dreadful football at Ewood Park and still come back for more. Nor is it that the manager is completely out of his depth and proudly boasts the worst record of any manager in the entire history of the club. Once again, I have suffered poor managers before — Jim Iley anyone? — and we will undoubtedly suffer them again after the present incumbent has been shown the door. However, what makes the present situation so unique is the complete and utter lack of hope with regard to the future. We know that when relegation is finally confirmed it will be the end of the Rovers as a top-flight club for a generation or more. Indeed, one only has to look at our near neighbours at Deepdale, who suffered relegation from top-flight football in 1960 and have spent the past 50 years in the wilderness. Such a fate surely awaits the Rovers. Irreparable damage may well have been done by the time the present owners depart and, sadly, there appears to be no sign of them leaving anytime soon.

As I sat gathering my thoughts for this report, I tried to fathom how Desai and her clan could have allowed this to happen. Could a supposedly experienced and successful businesswoman really be so dense when it comes to trying to understand football? Could she really be that stupid to think that firing the previous manager and replacing him with Steve Kean was ever going to work? Having survived relegation on the last day of the previous season, did she really think that the present manager combined with a shoestring transfer budget was going to suddenly transform us into European Champions League challengers?

If Kean is a symptom of the problems that abound at Ewood Park, the root cause is surely Madam Desai. Together, the two of them have managed to destroy the remaining legacy of Jack Walker and for that the town and people of Blackburn will surely never forget or forgive them.

This game was, in many ways, a microcosm of our entire season. Incapable of defending, devoid of ideas in midfield and lacking any sort of threat in front of goal — a combination that has surely earmarked the Rovers for a place in the Championship next season.

This was not the Liverpool of old, this was an Anfield outfit that was in the midst of crisis and yet, with a seriously weakened team, they arrived at Ewood and raced into a two-goal lead within the opening sixteen minutes. Only when the visitors were reduced to ten men were the Rovers able to claw themselves back into the game, but once again suicidal defending ensured the points went to Merseyside and the Rovers remained anchored in the bottom three.

It was rather ironic that in the seventy-third minute Ruben Rochina should replace Mauro Formica, for these two players represent the birth of Venky's Rovers. Bought last January amidst a fanfare of expectancy that they were to be the first building blocks of Venky's charge for Europe, they have, instead, become symbols of the mediocrity that Desai and Kean have immersed themselves in. Neither player has made the slightest impact on the club, neither player was ever likely to be remotely good enough for the Premier League, neither player will be of much use in the Championship and, hopefully, one suspects that neither player will be here next season.

After the appalling performance at West Bromwich on Saturday, the manager decided to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, but the end result was just the same. Quite why Marcus Olsson was recalled whilst Gael Givet, undeniably the most effective defender left at the club, was left sitting on the bench is a mystery which only Kean can answer. However, the sight of Andy Carroll, the £35-million misfit who has struggled to make much impression at Anfield, winning every aerial battle against Grant Hanley and Scott Dann did little to reinforce the belief that Givet has been left out because of the form of the latter two. Indeed, Hanley and Dann have looked very poor in recent matches. Dann has struggled to find any sort of form all season, while Hanley has, in recent weeks, seemed to revert to the clumsy and crude central defender that one remembers so well from his days in the Academy. Quite how these two are keeping Givet on the bench is unfathomable but is probably the reason why the club is destined for relegation. Form it would appear is not the criterion for getting into the team anymore.

Watched by the Brothers Grimm, Balaji and Venkatesh Rao, the Rovers made the now-familiar sluggish start and paid for it by conceding two goals within the opening 16 minutes. With Jason Lowe and Morten Gamst Pedersen dropped to the bench, Kean recalled Mauro Formica and Marcus Olsson, while Liverpool made a host of changes with one eye firmly fixed on Saturday's FA Cup semi-final meeting with Everton.

However, despite the makeshift nature of the opposition the visitors had little difficulty in making an early breakthrough. Martin Skrtel struck a superb 50-yard pass out to the unmarked Craig Bellamy on the right near the halfway line. The former Rover raced down the wing before firing a low ball across the face of the goal for Maxi Rodriguez to rifle home on the far post. It was simplicity itself and three minutes later things went from bad to worse when the Rovers' defence gifted the visitors a second goal. Jonjo Shelvey took the ball from David Dunn in the Liverpool half of the pitch and then set off towards the Rovers area. With the defence conspicuous by its absence, the Liverpool player struck a shot which Paul Robinson saved but couldn't hold. Andy Carroll tried to force the ball home, but his attempts were blocked by Bradley Orr. Unfortunately, the ball fell to Maxi Rodriguez, who made no mistake from close range.

The Ewood faithful registered their disgust as loud boos rang around the ground while Kean, a bewildered and beleaguered figure, stood on the touchline looking on at the shambles that was unfolding before him.

With Carroll dominant in the air — both Hanley and Dann appeared to have decided to stand off and allow him to head the ball unchallenged — and Bellamy running the defence ragged with his energetic bursts down the wings, Liverpool ought to have been able to have coasted to victory at that point. Indeed, all seemed to be going well for the visitors until a back-pass by Jon Flanagan fell well short of Alexander Doni and as Junior Hoilett pounced on the ball, the Liverpool custodian hesitated and then came to meet Hoilett and sent him crashing to the ground. Mr. Taylor immediately awarded a penalty and showed Doni a red card. Brad Jones came on to replace the luckless Flanagan and Yakubu stepped up to take the penalty, but the normally reliable Nigerian completely mishit his kick and Jones had little difficulty in making the save. It was an embarrassingly weak effort and drew comparisons in the half-time discussions with the infamous "Coddington" penalties — it was that bad.

Fortunately, the Yak redeemed himself on 36 minutes when Dunn floated a free-kick into the Liverpool goalmouth and Yakubu headed home. The goal signalled the start of a recovery by the Rovers and a super cross from Martin Olsson ought to have been converted but wasn't as Hanley was just inches away from meeting it.

At the start of the second half the Rovers took the game to Liverpool, but the lively Bellamy was always a threat on the break. However, having gifted the Rovers the opening goal, the visitors were in a charitable mood again when Brad Jones felled Yakubu and the Rovers were awarded a second penalty. The incident was pure comedy at its best and certainly befitting a place in the "Venky's Comedy Dome", otherwise known as Ewood Park. Jones tried to clear a back-pass but merely succeeded in striking Yakubu with the ball, which then looped up into the air. The 'keeper had plenty of time to merely push the ball over the bar but, instead, panic set in and for some reason he flapped at the ball and as Yakubu moved in, he then opted to push the striker to the ground. The referee rightly awarded a penalty but decided against a red card, which it surely warranted, and instead simply booked the Australian 'keeper.

Yakubu took the spot-kick and opted to hit it straight down the middle and was fortunate that Jones had decided to dive to his left, for if the 'keeper hadn't moved he would have comfortably collected the ball.

The Rovers huffed and puffed but never really created the clear-cut opportunities that might have brought a third goal. As the game moved into injury time, a point would have seen the Rovers climb two places in the league, but once again weak defending was to cost the Rovers dear. A free-kick by Daniel Agger deflected off the wall for a corner and although the Rovers cleared the initial danger, the ball was sent back into the area, where Agger nodded it into the path of Carroll and the striker powered his header into the back of the net. The Rovers appealed that Hanley had been fouled by Skrtel in the build-up, but the officials were unmoved.

The final whistle brought more boos from a rapidly emptying Ewood Park. Whilst it is still mathematically possible for the Rovers to escape relegation, one suspects that the majority of the fans have now accepted that the Rovers' time as a top-flight club is likely to come to an end in the next few weeks. With only two home games remaining and three difficult away games still to play, it is now difficult to see how the club can get the points required to keep them in the Premier League.

When the clowns from Pune took over, they dismissed the previous manager because they wanted entertaining football at Ewood Park. Under Allardyce, fortress Ewood provided the points that took the club to a tenth-place finish. This season, under Venky's and Kean, Ewood has produced just sixteen points from a possible fifty-one and eleven home defeats thus far is surely the reason why instead of visiting Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and the rest next season we will be travelling to the likes of Barnsley, Peterborough and Watford. Only Wolves have lost as many home games as the hapless Rovers, and Desai and her brothers have shown that the Premier League is no place for incompetence and that seems to be the one commodity which this family has in abundance.


Blackburn Rovers

Paul Robinson; Bradley Orr, Scott Dann, Grant Hanley, Martin Olsson; Mauro Formica (Ruben Rochina 73), David Dunn (Jason Lowe 75), Steven Nzonzi, Marcus Olsson; David "Junior" Hoilett; Yakubu
Subs not used: Jake Kean (gk), Gael Givet, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Radosav Petrovic, David Goodwillie
Manager: Steve Kean


Alexander Doni (sent off 26); Jon Flanagan (Brad Jones 26), Sebastian Coates, Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson (Daniel Agger 53); Craig Bellamy, Jordan Henderson, Jay Spearing, Maxi Rodriguez (Sanchez Jose Enrique 78); Jonjo Shelvey; Andy Carroll
Subs not used: Jamie Carragher, Fabio Aurelio, Dirk Kuyt, Luis Suarez
Manager: Kenny Dalglish


Blackburn Rovers – Bradley Orr, Junior Hoilett, Mauro Formica, Grant Hanley

Liverpool – Jon Flanagan, Maxi Rodriguez, Brad Jones, Craig Bellamy, Jordan Henderson

Sending off

Liverpool – Alexander Doni

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