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Rovers 1 Man U 1


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Just like Souness, who didn't give a post match interview, I went into retreat on Saturday night and set off into the wilderness in search of calm and solitude, away from the doom and gloom of fellow Roverites and the gloating banter of my local Man U, affiliated barman.

I'd started in fine spirits on Saturday morning, it was a bank holiday weekend and after all the recent rain storms the sun was shinning down on Ewood. Souness had selected a team, for a change, where each player was in his rightful position, Thompson was back after a lengthy injury in place of the "butterfly", we had a new signing, M.G.Pederson, making his debut and to top it all United had a number of players out injured.

Maybe, just maybe, after Wednesday's second half collapse against Arsenal, we could salvage a draw against United, when all said and done the stats were in our favour, not since 1998 had United come away from Ewood with maximum points.

Oh joy of joy, Ewood erupted as Dickov lashed his shot in to the back of the Darwen End goal, right in front of the United supporters. With the Reds silenced the Blackburn End bounced and for the first time this season we out sang the drummer.

If you're a Rovers supporter optimism is removed at birth, so the main point raised by the bloke whose sat next to me for longer than I can remember, was "It's going to be a long second half". Little did he know that those words would come back to haunt him as we ended up having to play "Fergietime" as well.

When I'd arrived at Ewood, I would have happily accepted a share of the points but on leaving Ewood I was physically and mentally exhausted, feeling cheated. The result wont change despite all the media coverage regarding extra time and the hand ball, but it is was a bitter pill to swallow following D'Urso's controversial penalty at St Mary's last week.

Having had time to reflect on the game, what was evident, was the change in attitude by both fans and players. Last season the team would have laid down and capitulated to the ever increasing United pressure and the fans would have accepted the inevitable defeat. On Saturday it was apparent that the players performed with passion, wearing the shirt with pride, recognised from all quarters of the ground by the fans as they stood singing their support until the very end.

After last season's disappointment and under achievement this crop of players gave the supporters something to cheer about, it wasn't a case of going home complaining about the Rovers, it was a feeling of sorrow for the players who had given a 110 per cent.

My man of the match was Friedel, who showed the form that won him the top keeper award two seasons ago, without his world class saves United could easily have won by four clear goals. But credit must also go to Barry Ferguson, who wears his heart on his sleeve and to Bret Emerton who on Saturday started to show why so many clubs tried to sign him prior to joining Rovers.

However for ever plus there is a minus, Amorus's blatant shoulder blocks, once was bad enough, but having been already booked the second time was just plain stupid and as for the rejuvenated Yorke, you have to be joking. How Jansen can be behind Yorke in the pecking order is beyond belief.

After this weekends performance I'm more optimistic, the team is taking shape and looking more balanced with players in their natural positions. I just hope that Souness doesn't start rearranging the team again, trying to fit square pegs into round holes.

Rovers: Friedel, Neill, Short, Amoruso, Matteo, Thompson (Emerton 17), Ferguson, Tugay, Pedersen, Stead (Yorke 64), Dickov (Johansson 71).

Subs Not Used: De Pedro, Enckelman.

Sent Off: Amoruso (71).

Booked: Stead, Amoruso, Tugay.

Goals: Dickov 17.

United: Howard, Gary Neville, O'Shea, Silvestre, Spector (Miller 75), Ronaldo, Djemba-Djemba (Bellion 80), Kleberson (Saha 45), Giggs, Scholes, Smith.

Subs Not Used: Phil Neville, Carroll.

Booked: Kleberson.

Goals: Smith 90.

Att: 26,155

Ref: A Wiley

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