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[Archived] News Article -> 2012/13 Match Report: Rovers 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

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Blackburn Rovers (0) 0 – 1 (0) Wolverhampton Wanderers
Sako 77
Referee: N. Miller Attendance: 17,034

A second successive home defeat and a mere two points out of the last twelve have placed a huge question mark against the potential of Blackburn Rovers to regain their Premier League status at the first attempt. The previous manager's boasts that the Rovers had the strongest squad in the division are looking a little hollow right now. Indeed, for my money Eric Black hit the nail on the head when he told Radio Rovers, in his post-match interview, that the club simply hasn't got a centre-forward who is capable of leading the line in this division. Of course, there are many other problems afflicting both the team and the club at present, but Black merely confirmed what many have thought and that is that the club embarked upon the season ill-equipped and ill-prepared for the challenges ahead.

Compare the present squad with the one that Graeme Souness assembled in 2000–01 to win promotion from this division. Quite simply there is no comparison as the Souness squad was infinitely better in every department.

We need to face the fact that no new manager is going to come in and wave a magic wand and suddenly turn it all around. What was witnessed at Ewood Park in this latest debacle has been two years in the making. Two years of abysmal decision-making, of indecisive leadership from the owners and of declining quality within the playing squad. You cannot strip a squad of the likes of Phil Jones, Steven Nzonzi, Ryan Nelsen, El-Hadji Diouf, Chris Samba and Michel Salgado, etc., and expect to continue to flourish. Indeed, when you replace good players with inferior ones, as we have done, there is only likely to be one outcome and it certainly isn't promotion.

The visit of Wolves to Ewood Park saw the restoration of Colin Kazim-Richards to the starting line-up but, surprisingly, at the expense of Nuno Gomes, who was relegated to the bench. Once again Black opted to utilise a 3-5-2 formation in a bid to try to get more width into the Rovers attacking play.

As always, the Rovers were slow out of the blocks and Paul Robinson was forced to make a good save to keep out an effort from Bakary Sako in the opening five minutes. The deficiencies in the Rovers midfield were there for all to see when David Davis ran through unchallenged before he fired a long-range effort over the bar.

After 17 minutes and with one of their first meaningful attacks of the game the Rovers might well have taken the lead when Jordan Rhodes seemed to be hauled to the ground as he tried to get on the end of a cross from Kazim-Richards. Inexplicably the referee deemed that Richard Stearman's challenge had been fair and denied the vociferous penalty appeals from the Rovers players.

Just a couple of minutes later Kevin Foley was given time and space to pick out Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, who headed against the foot of the post with Robinson well beaten. Fortunately, the ball bounced out to safety, but once again the Rovers defence was conspicuous by its absence.

The rest of the half was very much tit-for-tat with neither side looking terribly convincing as potential promotion candidates. Mauro Formica reminded the watching crowd that he was actually on the pitch when he fired a decent attempt narrowly over the bar before he returned to the periphery of the game where he seems to permanently reside.

Black made a change at half-time and Formica remained in the dressing room while Fabio Nunes was introduced on the left wing. The young Portuguese winger made a couple of decent crosses, but all too often his good work on the wing was spoilt by a succession of poor crosses and the less said about his corner kicks the better. The fact that a half in which he merely flattered to deceive was sufficient to win him the Man of the Match award merely underlined how dire the Rovers were.

The Rovers offered little in the way of serious threat to the Wolves goal during the second half and a frustrated Rhodes opted to shoot from distance when the chance to play in Kazim-Richards seemed the better option.

Wolves, too, offered little going forward with a badly struck shot from Anthony Forde going well wide when he really ought to have done better.

On 77 minutes the visitors took the lead after the Rovers presented them with the opportunity. Danny Murphy was caught in possession, which resulted in Wolves gaining a corner. Not for the first time this season, a ball played into the box was not cleared properly and when Robinson punched the ball to the edge of the area, it was worked out to Sako who unleashed a fierce shot into the far corner of the net. Murphy, who was guarding the post, opted to wander away from it and create the gap that Sako needed to score. It was ironic that the normally static Murphy should choose that very moment to decide to actually move about.

The Rovers huffed and puffed but rarely looked like getting back in the game. Scott Dann was pushed up front to try to beef up Rovers' woefully weak attack but all to no avail.

The Rovers slipped down to ninth in the table and after ten games are six points off the top and five points adrift of the second automatic promotion position.

Once again the 3-5-2 formation didn't really work. Although Martin Olsson got forward a little more, he still looks a mere shadow of the player he has been in the past. Bradley Orr offers little going forward and is easily caught out for pace when having to defend. The three centre-backs still look shaky at times with Gael Givet being the standout defender at the club.

The midfield was again woeful. The combination of Danny Murphy and Jason Lowe hadn't worked at Forest in midweek and — surprise, surprise — it didn't work again. The form of Murphy is a real concern. Not only does he look physically slow, but he seems slow in thought on the pitch. Sitting on an expensive two-year contract, one really does wonder if he offers value for money. More and more supporters are beginning to voice their opinions of him during games, which, considering the silly money that the Rovers are paying for his services, is understandable.

Lowe simply doesn't have the technique to play as a creative midfield playmaker. Perhaps sitting in front of the back four as defensive cover might be a better option for the youngster.

Mauro Formica was withdrawn at half-time, not that anyone would have noticed his absence, and although Fabio Nunes made one or two decent runs, he let himself down with a succession of indifferent crosses.

In attack Colin Kazim-Richards looked the more dangerous threat, while Jordan Rhodes again struggled to make his mark on the game. The lad clearly needs service and, one suspects, needs to play alongside a target man — something the Rovers don't have with Best being injured.

The decision to keep Nuno Gomes on the bench was a mystery, but, then again, the decision to keep Danny Murphy on the pitch all season has been the biggest mystery of all. Quite how he can be selected ahead of David Dunn or Morten Gamst Pedersen I'm not sure.

The international break now provides the Rovers with the opportunity to take stock of the situation and decide the direction in which they want to go. One thing is certain and that is that things have to change if Venky's demands for an instant return to the Premier League are to be met. On the evidence of the first ten games the Rovers are a long way off being viable promotion candidates.


Blackburn Rovers

Paul Robinson; Grant Hanley, Scott Dann, Gael Givet; Bradley Orr, Jason Lowe (Dickson Etuhu 71), Mauro Formica (Fabio Nunes 46), Danny Murphy, Martin Olsson; Colin Kazim-Richards, Jordan Rhodes
Subs not used: Jake Kean (gk), David Dunn, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Nuno Gomes, Ruben Rochina
Caretaker Manager: Eric Black

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Carl Ikeme; Roger Johnson, Richard Stearman (Anthony Forde 53), Christophe Berra, Kevin Foley; Karl Henry, Stephen Ward, David Davis (Ronald Zubar 61) Tongo Hamed Doumbia, Bakary Sako; Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (Danny Batth 87)
Subs not used: Aaron McCarey (gk), Frank Nouble, Eggert Jonsson, Georg Margreitter
Manager: Stale Solbakken


Blackburn Rovers – None

Wolverhampton Wanderers – Karl Henry, Bakary Sako

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