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Found 200 results

  1. IrelandsRover

    Opinions on Mike Newell

    I was reading an excerpt from Graeme Le Sauxs autobiography and he is quite critical of Mike Newell among others for during the 95/96 season. it made me wonder what are people’s opinions of Mike Newell? Thanks
  2. Bohinen 22

    Worst Rovers 11

    Following on from the joy of thinking of some our best players in our best PL 11, thoughts turned to some of our worst. I wasn't really focussing on the imposter mercenaries like Best, Murphy, Etuhu. They clearly had talent underneath their money grabbing, lazy personas. Or even the Portuguese pub players we were landed with to make some agents very rich, around the same time. I was just thinking of those players we've had that have been useless. Steele Orr Peacock Greer Berner Goulon Lowe Williamson Ward Brown Modeste Subs Fettis Dailly Greer Akpan Koita Treacy Stokes
  3. IrelandsRover

    Republic of Ireland 11

    Out of boredom I’m looking to put together Rovers best Republic of Ireland 11. Here’s a quick try below. Am I forgetting any notable players? 🇮🇪 Keeper: Shay Given Defence: Jeff Kenna, Kevin Moran, Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams Midfield: Damien Duff, Jason McAteer, Keith Andrews, Alan Mahon Strikers: Frank Stapleton, Leon Best
  4. WIR Second Coming

    Top Keepers!

    In the same vein as current threads around best / worst to have played in Blue & White halves (plus keeper colours!), I was thinking about the keepers I've had the pleasure of watching over the years. Started with Roger Jones in the 70s (lived just round the corner from us in a modest house) Since then my favourites have been: Terry Genoe Bobby Mimms Tim Flowers John Filan but the best of all, in my humble opinion, was HellBoy himself Biggus Braddus!
  5. This must be an April Fool's Day prank. No Brad in the top 10. But Dracula David James and Jens Lehman. Are they capable of looking beyond the traditional top 6. How can you complain or criticise their stupidity?
  6. Bohinen 22

    Unpopular Rovers 11

    Apologies; last one I promise. Keeping my mind on lighter things in these rubbish times. Kean (garbage) Orr (Kean's cheerleader) Duffy (two own goals) Dann ( smaller when jumping) Neill (money grabber) Ferguson (homesick for Glasgow) Lowe ( no need to explain) Murphy (lazy mercenary) Etuhu (as above) Best (as above) Yorke (as above)
  7. Who would be in your starting 11 from players who played for Rovers during the Premier League days? Gk - Friedel RB - Neill CB - Samba CB - Hendry LB - Le Saux RW - Ripley CM - Tugay CM - Sherwood LW - Duff ST - Sutton ST - Shearer
  8. Bored and can't be arsed atm but I'll start with big Col and Speedie. Feel free to add yours 😁
  9. I was talking about this at the game yesterday and how concerning it is. Due to the utter mismanagement of our first team squad, it will look like this at the end of the season unless any of our lads out of contract sign new deals before then. I'm taking into consideration players who have played first team games or have squad numbers... GK - Fisher Defence - Nyambe, Lenihan, Mulgrew, Wharton, Magloire, Williams Midfield - Bennett, Chapman, Travis, Evans, Johnson, Davenport, Rankin-Costello, Buckley, Rothwell, Holtby, Dack (probably not available until Christmas) Strikers - Armstrong, Gallagher, Brereton, Butterworth Now, I suspect Bell and Downing might get offered new deals, so we could probably add those back to the list. I personally think we will need 6 players of good quality just to stay as a plodding mid table side let alone a non existent push for the top 6. A GK, two centre halves, a left back, a wide player and a Striker. What's the betting Mowbrays first signing of the summer is an attacking midfielder?
  10. This week's "Accrington Observer" column... You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone I’m not entirely sure if Joni Mitchell is a massive fan of English football, but the portentous lyrics to “Big Yellow Taxi” certainly ring true in these potentially apocalyptic times. Events move quickly around these parts and last week, the Premier League and the EFL each demonstrated the sort of flexibility usually associated only with an experienced yoga class. From robustly insisting that the weekend’s football would proceed unimpeded, the realpolitik of the situation soon demanded a pragmatic response and following a u-turn, football eventually was stopped. Just like that. Faced with an exponentially-growing, global pandemic, it was testimony to the prevailing power of modern-day sport that postponement was held at bay way longer than seemed sensible. The commercial ramifications seeming to hold primacy for an indecent period of time, the health of the sport’s audience and practitioners evidently some way down the pecking order. The presence of around 3,000 Atletico Madrid fans in Liverpool last Wednesday already looks like crass complacency of the highest order. Football’s lack of joined up thinking at the highest levels it seems is rivalled only by that of our most senior politicians. Against the backdrop of the biggest public health challenge of, at the very least, a generation there are no complaints from this quarter regarding the cancellation of a mere sport. But, I do miss it, already, after just a single blank weekend. It’s the routine, the camaraderie, the tribalism, the sense of community provided by football that is so very difficult to replace. How long will we be without our drug of choice though is the question? At this juncture, it seems that it will be months, rather than weeks, at the very least. Whilst there is even the slightest risk that the virus could spread amongst fans travelling to a game, drinking in the pubs before and after or cheering on their favourites during it; then football must stop. A quote circulating once more in the press over the weekend and curiously, attributed to both Arrigo Sacchi and Carlo Ancelotti proclaims football to be, “the most important of the unimportant things in life”. A more accurate representation of the current state of affairs than the famous Bill Shankly quote, which was delivered, I strongly suspect, with his tongue firmly in his cheek. The single biggest revelation of last weekend was just how much time I typically spend watching, reading about, thinking about, Tweeting about and thanks largely to this very column, writing about football. I had so much spare time that at one point I found myself tidying the loft and sorting out my vinyl LP collection, which had lain untouched for some fifteen years. As it turns out, my wife is actually quite pleasant company but she no longer works at Woolworth’s apparently. The old ones are the best as they say. Football is likely to be off the agenda for quite some time. There are of course many other pressing priorities to address. Once those are under some semblance of control, then and only then should the resumption of sport return even to the conversation. When it does, there is a whole host of issues to be resolved. The prospect of the season being voided looms large. The 2020 Euros have just been postponed. The pre-Qatar World Cup football calendar could end up looking radically different. As for our very own Rovers, what prospects lie in wait? The cashflow impacts of no football for several months will take their toll; hopefully Venky’s will continue to fund the wage bill but they too, in their core business, will not be immune from the worldwide impacts of a recession or worse. Contracts will expire at the end of June, loanees will return to parent clubs, but what will happen to the unresolved fixtures? Many of the remaining 71 EFL clubs will be in far worse a state of jeopardy than Rovers but you do sense that Bury FC will not be season’s only casualty if this crisis continues as expected. How many of these footballing paradises will be paved and replaced with parking lots before the next football season kicks-off? How many seats in grounds nationwide will be tragically and unexpectedly empty? Stay safe people, look after your families, friends and neighbours and let us hope we can all reconvene here soon, fit and raring to go.
  11. Just wondering if Alan played any pre season games with us before the 96/97 season or went straight to Newcastle after the Euros?
  12. Walton - loan finishes end of May. A one month extension possible if we are playing virus catch up but what next....? Leutwiller - end of contract. Surely he will be gone. 2 new keepers ? Tosin - loan finishes end of May. As per Walton. Estimated to be £18 million (Mowbray) to £20 million (press). Mowbray wants another rolling 6 month loan but is it likely and how does it help us build a back 4 ? Williams & Mulgrew - both 1 year left but surely we need to get shut of both ? Both are internationals but is there any interest? Bell - out of contract... surely has to go but will Mowbray hand him a charity contract ? 1 year extension available which I am sure will be triggered. Nyambe - 1 year left. Surely he needs a new contract ASAP to protect us for a future transfer fee. We are left with Lenihan & Nyambe so how is that going to work out? In terms of building a strong back 4 this season was wasted? Smallwood - out of contract and surely off. Evans - 1 year left but is he likely to play again ? Bennett - out of contract. The one to watch. Surely Mowbray won't cut him loose even though he should. Downing - out of contract but presuming he will be player of the season surely will get another year. Dack - who knows what will happen. We still have plenty of midfielders but how many are good enough to get us to the Prem? Pretty sure that with the experience of Johnson, Evans and Downing helping the youngsters we will be fine here ? Travis, Buckley, JRC will be regulars. Chapman - will he be sold off ? Armstrong - off to the Prem for a fee ? Graham - out of contract but what is going to happen ? Dom Sam - out of contract or new contract ? Fairly certain Gally and Ben are untouchable or what was the point? Then we have the financial impact of the virus and FFP. Europe is our new hope for cheap talent but is on lockdown. Phew...it's going to be a busy summer... or is it ?
  13. This week's slightly extended "Accrington Observer" column... Derby’s Ram Raid Exposes Rovers There are any number of sports psychology books professing that pressure is a positive force, "diamonds from coal" and so on; whereas stress is corrosive and undermines performance. Sports stars are routinely exposed to both scenarios throughout their careers. The very best learn to avoid, eliminate or at least reduce stress to manageable proportions. Pressure on the other hand occurs when the participants have “skin in the game”, the result is important and the outcome is at least in part dependent upon the performance of the individual. It is this jeopardy and the fear of failure that drives on the very best to perform at their very best, repeatedly and consistently when it matters. Clive Woodward when managing the 2003 England Rugby World Cup winners referenced T-CUP – “thinking correctly (or clearly) under pressure”, the ability clearly, coolly and clinically to make the right choice at the right time. Think Johnny Wilkinson, deep into extra time, off his weaker foot, “he drops for World Cup glory” as enshrined in Ian Robertson’s memorable commentary. At various times in this topsy-turvy season, Rovers have threatened to spark into life and gate-crash the top six party, only to fail to rise to the occasion, the pressure of expectation proving to be too much to handle. Sunday afternoon was the latest instance and once again, the promise that had been steadily accumulating was swiftly surrendered. Derby County are far from the side they were last season when they emphatically and vibrantly pinned Rovers back for what seemed to be roughly 88 of the 90 minutes but somehow failed to score. This iteration under Cocu however, is still finding its feet and is learning how to accommodate the eclectic talents of one Wayne Rooney. Mr Rooney however was absent from the squad, as was former Rovers loanee Tom Lawrence. There are times when the “diem” has to be “carpe’d” as it were, Sunday was one of them. Victory would capitalise on the failings of rivals the previous day and the oh-so-elusive top six would be breached for the first time since the beginning of September 2018. The opening fifteen minutes suggested Rovers were indeed up for it. Derby looked languid, Rovers looked calm and composed and far from stressed, nor particularly under pressure. Gradually though, Derby grew into the match and seemed to realise that the simple expedient of running purposefully and directly at the Rovers defence and/or slipping a through ball for a teammate to run onto was a revolutionary tactic that Rovers simply could not handle. The Derby opener was, it has to be said, an absolute cracker, Louie Sibley scoring his first senior goal with what could conceivably turn out to be the best of his fledgling career. A rasping drive from 25 yards curling away from Walton into the top corner. Out of nothing, Derby had the lead and they never truly looked like losing it thereafter. The second followed an ineffective parry by Walton from another long-range shot, the ball falling kindly to Chris Martin to finish, paradise for the Rams. Derby were building the pressure now, Rovers by comparison were moving from being under pressure to looking distinctly stressed. It could and should have been three just before half time, Waghorn rounded Walton but from a narrowing angle, could only contrive to hit the inside of the post, the ball rebounding to a grateful and relieved keeper. After such a lacklustre opening half, there was a sense that things could only get better but any dreams of parity disappeared after the opening third of the second half. Rovers had the lion’s share of possession but didn’t really create a clear-cut chance of note. As in the first half, Derby then slowly eased themselves back into control and any thoughts of a comeback could be placed on the back burner. The third Derby goal summed up the afternoon, a clumsy, poorly executed and largely unnecessary challenge by Bennett felled Jason Knight and the ensuing spot kick was coolly converted by Chris Martin, leaving Rovers very definitely in trouble. Still time however, for one more example of the inability to T-CUP was to follow, with the hapless John Buckley rightly red carded, for an “over-exuberant” let’s say, challenge on Curtis Davies. A truly dispiriting afternoon all round. It reminded me of a young(er) Lewis Travis getting sent off away at Portsmouth in the promotion season. Coming on as sub, desperately keen to make an impression and so doing, but for all the wrong reasons. Travis learned from it, Buckley will too. Where to next for Rovers? Astoundingly, despite a run of form yielding a paltry three points out of the last twelve, Rovers still are adrift of sixth by only three points, albeit with just nine games remaining. The crucial difference now though, is that from tenth position, Rovers have to somehow close that points gap and simultaneously perform better than at least four other teams currently above them. On the "last six games" current form table, Rovers are just outside the top six. Millwall seem to be the dark horses who are timing their run but keep half an eye on QPR and Reading. With a number of European matches now being played behind closed doors thanks to coronavirus and rising concerns as to the public health implications, the outcome of any football match needs as always to be kept in perspective; notwithstanding Bill Shankly. Rovers best performance of the season is quite possibly the impressive away win at Ashton Gate last December. Failure to complete the double over the Robins on Saturday will surely consign the lingering top six dreams to the dustbin. Curiously, that might just relieve the pressure and help eliminate the “top six stress” apparently burdening the side. Might that in turn allow greater freedom of expression and potentially improve results? Maybe this is all part of a cunning plan? If it comes off it’s genius, “thinking creatively under pressure” perhaps? Forget T-CUP, Sunday was more akin to a mug’s game. Rovers now need to find a special brew to restore all the feelings that we get from you.
  14. With another International week killing our domestic football and Rovers in particular I noticed the board was eerily quiet. I decided to start a thread about things you dislike in football so no falling out, it's just anything that annoys you. No accusations of being miserable please. 😁 Mine is the bloody Mexican Waves that we see from time to time usually I have always thought borne out of boredom. Although they do seem to be on the wane in football I noticed them at Old Trafford yesterday and saw adults doing it and it riled me. I'm not sure why they are called Mexican as they originated, surprise surprise in America.
  15. This week's slightly extended "Accrington Observer" column... Draw, Draw, Quick, Quick, Draw "Money can't buy me love..." as a popular beat combo once proclaimed but there are those who suggest it can buy promotion. Rovers opponents last Wednesday, Stoke City, are owned by the Coates family, who also own Bet365. Peter Coates is in many respects, Stoke City’s equivalent of Jack Walker and has backed the club substantially at various points over the last thirty years. With the club having largely squandered their parachute payments and now falling under the auspices of FFP, the wealth of the Coates family has not insulated Stoke from their on-field problems. Bet365's CEO is Denise Coates, daughter of Peter and has a net worth apparently in excess of £10bn, earning £323m in 2018 alone, making her the highest paid executive of any UK company. Gambling only pays when you're winning...or when you're the bookmaker. I’ll nail my colours to the mast early on here. I’m not massively keen on the normalisation of gambling in football. I believe we will look back at some point in the near future with incredulity at the proliferation of gambling adverts in a similar way that 1980’s F1 cars festooned with tobacco ads look so incongruous to us now. But that said, the Coates family have been model owners and unlike some owners, pay their taxes. I’m equally sure the Coates family would willingly have parted with a few bob more to persuade the referee to blow up early last week had they been able. On a cold evening that demanded some spicy fare to warm the heart of your cockle, both sides conspired to offer up the footballing equivalent of a limp, service station salad that has sat on a plate next to the oven for a week. Armstrong once more started brightly and Rovers had the ball in the net when Joe Rothwell pounced on a Butland spill from an Armstrong shot, but Rothwell was clearly offside. Stoke were less than wholeheartedly adventurous but when they did attack, they looked dangerous. Had they truly gone for the win, Stoke might just have secured a couple more points towards their race for safety. Gallagher had a one on one but was foiled by Butland, Armstrong cut in and tried his luck but the shot was easily smothered by Butland once more and that was about it. It’s entirely possible that had a coronavirus scare caused it to be played behind closed doors, few would have quibbled come 10pm, such was the dearth of a spectacle. Off the back of the draw at Brentford, hopes were high that the two subsequent home games would provide the fillip for a play-off push. Swansea at Ewood in the second of the back to back fixtures offered a different sort of challenge to the relegation-threatened Potters. One of those peer-group sides that Rovers have to overcome if top six is even remotely to be a prospect, Swansea clearly had a game plan that involved slowing down proceedings and frustrating their opponents – a Lewis Travis tribute some would argue. A reorganised defence seemed to have removed the prospect of Nyambe attacking down the right but the opening goal came from just this source with a delicious, curling cross worthy of Trent Alexander-Arnold, finding Sam Gallagher – in a central role note – able to flick it home from close range. The first assist of the season from either full back. Danny Graham on the bench doubtless immediately posting congratulations to Gallagher via the medium of his Instagram account. Rovers settled down and for all the world looked like they would reach half-time a goal to the good. Not so fast, spiky Liverpool loanee Rhian Brewster showed his class taking a pass on the turn and firing a shot hard and low into the bottom corner beyond Walton. All square and a growing sense of frustration at the lapse. Soon after the restart, Tosin Adarabioyo highlighted perhaps his main weakness; namely dealing with tricky forwards with fast feet in the box. Not for the first time this season, it cost a penalty when Jordan Garrick was fouled in the area and astonishingly, Rovers were now behind. Swansea managing two goals from two shots on target, efficient certainly. What really stuck in the craw was the fact that Garrick could easily have seen red for a late and high challenge on Walton in the first half. The game then followed what seemed to be an inevitable script of Rovers battling but struggling to gain a foothold in a brave defeat. Tony Mowbray went full “Football Manager”, throwing on Graham and Brereton to partner Armstrong and Gallagher in what initially looked like a throwback 4-2-4 from the 1960’s. This seemed to unsettle Rovers more than Swansea though, as Gallagher is still nowhere near as effective out wide and Armstrong is on a hot streak playing through the middle. That it worked despite this probably explains why Mowbray sits in the dugout whilst I’m typing this column! Brereton let us say “won” a penalty following a direct run into the box, which cleverly cut across a Swansea defender; Brereton’s left leg sprung out, made contact, down he went. Danny Graham took the kick rather than Armstrong, but Gareth Southgate’s Godson in the Swansea goal saved it. Graham also managed to hit the post, it all pointed to “one of those afternoons”. Deep in injury time, a tired Bennett cross ended at the feet of Adarabioyo and the big man spotted Johnson just outside the box with a neat, stabbed pass. Johnson looked up took aim and quite brilliantly found just the right deflection off the head of Swansea’s Kabango, totally wrong-footing Woodman. All square, and in fairness the least Rovers deserved on the balance of play over the ninety minutes. Three points from nine has to be considered to be a disappointing return; especially from two-nil up at Brentford with two home games to follow. But astonishingly, the gap to the play-offs at 5pm on Saturday night was just three tantalising points. Ten games left, but Rovers really need to string wins together now, not draws if the season is to have a chance to end gloriously. Frankly, still to be in the conversation at this point with the injuries that have blighted the squad is testimony to the team spirit and determination. There can be no doubt though, that a lack of guile or unpredictability has made it so much more difficult to unpick packed and disciplined defences and has cost points. Dack might just have been able to offer something different, or Holtby, once the promise of Harry Chapman would have excited the home crowd, but the reality is, we will never know. Our next opponents have of course recently changed their name and so it's Wayne Rooney’s Derby County lining up on Sunday. Rooney's salary being largely picked up by a betting company, this time it's the Gibraltar-based 32Red, who also sponsor four other league sides including Preston North End. WRDC have just won their first game in five and probably still believe that they could yet close the eight-point gap to sixth with a run of wins. All things are possible in this crazy division, would you bet against it ? There's plenty willing to take your money either way.
  16. Riverside under the drip

    Credit where credit's due

    This is the kind of thing people have been asking for. Get them young and all that... https://www.rovers.co.uk/news/2020/march/ewood-express-a-great-success/ I taught near Chatburn and that side of Clitheroe still has a sizeable Rovers contingent in my experience. Without attention though, plenty could be attracted to Burnley.
  17. Armstrong has thrived on taking on Dack’s position more centrally. Rothwell would surely be better in the number 10 role and can frighten defenders with his dribbling forward. He can drop into midfield and carry the ball 20 yards on his own. Gallagher has to play as a centre forward to be effective, and for 5 million other reasons, but continues to be played out wide. Samuel has looked a handful when he has played recently and needs a run of games. Or needs to be moved on. Brereton also has to go to centre forward but he will never play alongside Gally in a 4-4-2. (Why buy both). Still feel the “hasn’t settled” excuse to move on and try to recover some of the outlay back is the best option. Buckley is emerging as an option in the middle just ahead of holding midfielders. Holtby seemed to be hot and cold but also needs a settled run of matches. I don’t expect Downing to stick around but he could I guess. It’s looking more and more obvious that Dack was on his way in January but, as he’s going nowhere any time soon and to get a fee he needs to play, when comes back, how do we accommodate him? Discuss.
  18. Looking at what we have to work with in our attempts to push on for play offs. I like Walton he is solid without being particulary spectacular but has improved this season (We would concede more if Jason was there) The way I see it we can cope with 1 injury at centre back or left back but would leave us with them playing every game with no suitable replacements. If Nyambe gets injured and with his record will probably happen at some point. Whilst I know it is not his best postion I would prefer to try Costello there if there is an Injury bur we all know Tony will put Bennett there who is no longer good enough for championship football. Why is he still captain? Darrah should be captain. If Downing gets injured or needs to be rested we have no suitbale replacement on the left wing other than Armstrong and he has proved in recent weeks he is more valuable up front. Chapman is an option but is unproven and I am sure rather than give him a chance will play someone else out of postion! Any injuries in centre midfield before Rothwell comes back and we are screwed! We have costello who is invaluable at the moment as he can cover several postions but still unproven at this level Davenport but can he hit the ground running ? Other possible option is Mulgrew although his legs have gone his distribution and set pieces have always been great but would be worried about players bursting past him. If we lose Armstrong for more than a game or two that is the end of any small chance of playoffs. Unless some Miracle happens and Sam starts scoring and or Breaton finds his confidence! My biggest worry is I have no faith in Tony using youth and potential if they are injuries and instead calling on the likes of Bennett, Smallwood etc. Walton (Leutwiller) Nyambe (Costello) Tosin, Lenihan (Williams) Bell (WIlliams) Gallagher (Chapman) Downing Travis (Davenport) Johnson Holtby (Buckley) Armstrong (Graham, Breaton) Not included Rothwell as looks like he is out to March and Corey as we dont know when he will be back. Not including Bennett,Smallwood or Samuel as they are not good enough for this divison. What are your thoughts?
  19. IrelandsRover

    When Nike Switched the Halves

    Just something I was thinking about, what did supporters think when Nike switched the blue and white (picture attached)? Was it a big deal. I know up at Celtic for example fans went mad when Nike broke up the hoops if I remember correctly
  20. This week's slightly extended "Accrington Observer" column... Bees Strikes Sting Rovers It was quite the weekend for armchair referees. In the VAR-equipped Premier League, numerous TV replays of events at Stamford Bridge, reviewed by the experts at Stockley Park, revealed absolutely no problem with an horrendous challenge by Lo Celso on Azpilicueta. Then they apologised and admitted they'd got it wrong. Then they said no further retrospective sanction against Lo Celso was possible because it had been seen by the referee real-time and reviewed by Stockley Park. Glorious. Meanwhile at Griffin Park, there were two distinct schools of thought regarding the crucial award of a no-VAR assisted penalty to Brentford; it was either a poor decision, or a very poor decision, depending upon your perspective. From the comfort of a sofa with the ability to rewind & replay with impunity, it soon became apparent that Brentford’s Mads Roerslev had “gone to ground” as they say; following a deadly combination of reckless heavy breathing from Bradley Johnson and a Paddington Bear-style hard stare from Amari’i Bell. This manoeuvre owed more to Tom Daley, with a theatrical flourish worthy of a BAFTA or Olivier Award winning actor. It fooled the referee and the scoreline was ultimately tied. The bitterest pill, was ours to take, if we took it for a hundred years, we couldn't feel more ill... Notwithstanding the fact that Rovers had been on the back foot for large parts of the game, to have the mental and intestinal fortitude to hang on, in a game where the opposition is dominating proceedings was laudable. A victory here could have been a real watershed moment, a draw would have to suffice. This fixture had a lot riding on it for both sides. For Rovers it was all about spending at least part of Saturday afternoon in those elusive play-off places, the Holy Grail that seems to be perpetually just out of reach. For Brentford, their goal is promotion and with it, the prospect of spending the first season in their spanking new stadium as a Premier League team. Unsurprisingly, Brentford started the game with high intensity, moving the ball quickly, accurately and dangerously. Rovers, much like an opening batsman facing hostile, short of a length, fast bowling, spent large parts of the game on the back foot, nervously watching the ball move. The opening ten minutes saw Rovers’ right-hand side being given a thorough chasing, the sort of robust, forensic examination normally only carried out by a qualified medical practitioner with the aid of rubber gloves and a comforting bedside manner. Rico Henry was a constant thorn in the side, combining at various points with Benrahma, Mbuemo and Watkins – Brentford’s BMW – to keep Ryan Nyambe, Dominic Samuel and John Buckley fully occupied. It seemed only a matter of time before the defence would be breached and so it proved; astonishingly though, it was Brentford's defence. Walton was quick to spot Armstrong pulling away from his marker and with a wind-assisted kick, launched the ball deep into Brentford territory. Pinnock misjudged the flight in the swirl, Armstrong controlled delightfully and lobbed the advancing David Raya with a deft touch worthy of Rory McIlroy flighting one out of a green-side bunker straight into the hole. One shot on target, one goal, one Angel of the North celebration, game most definitely on. The remainder of the first-half was conducted in a similar vein, Brentford largely controlling possession, moving the ball with precision from side to side, probing the Rovers back-line, creating several shooting opportunities. When a shot found its way towards goal, thankfully the ball seemed magnetically drawn towards the once-again impressive Walton. The half-time whistle brought with it some blessed relief but also growing optimism that the afternoon could yet prove to be fruitful for the visitors. The second half commenced with Rovers trying their best to impose themselves on proceedings. A swift break saw a long ball reach Samuel who evaded a challenge, nudged the ball through to Armstrong but his shot was blocked by Raya. The ball looped up around the penalty spot and the onrushing John Buckley was comprehensively cleaned out by Raya, who seemed unsure whether to try and punch or catch the bouncing ball. The Sky commentators considered it soft, keen to imply that as Raya had parried the ball, he was exempt from any sanction from the referee. However, Law 12 seems explicit on the topic; "holding or impeding an opponent with contact" is an offence punishable with a direct free-kick. Armstrong placed the ball on the spot, then sent Raya the wrong way, two-nil up at Griffin Park once again. Brentford may well have a BMW, Rovers have the AA. A chastened Brentford now really needed to step up to the challenge and unfortunately, they did. Their first goal was an absolute peach. Ollie Watkins latched on to a lovely long ball and controlled and shot in one smooth movement. The shot fairly rocketed right into the top corner with Walton absolutely helpless. Given the circumstances of the Rovers penalty, a cynical observer might suggest that the referee might just be susceptible to an opportunity to even things up. Time and time again as a supporter you believe you see this sort of behaviour from referees; time and time again officials proclaim that such an opinion is nonsense and referees judge each instance on its merits. How many times do you see a dodgy corner so often followed immediately by a free-kick awarded against the attacking side? A glance at the key stats and the evidence of your own eyes suggests that this was a hard-earned point against the odds and so it was, but when a couple of goals up with twenty minutes to go, thoughts inevitably drift to the points dropped rather than the one won. There were a number of bright spots emerging from this encounter. Walton, Nyambe, Travis and Armstrong were all on top of their game once again. Young Buckley in the centre displayed some lovely link play, receiving on the half-turn, laying it off just before a challenge and moving into space. Reminiscent in some respects of Duncan McKenzie for those old enough and lucky enough to have seen him in a Rovers shirt. Rovers are now back in the territory they found themselves in December – close to the play-offs, playing well, a couple of winnable homes coming up in the next week. If this season is to continue beyond the regulation forty-six matches, then realistically, six points has to be the target. The margin of error now is minute. If Rovers are to gatecrash the top six, an average of two points per game from hereon in may still not prove sufficient. By the way, I still don’t want VAR in the Championship, despite Saturday’s shenanigans. Everyone on the field is human, players and officials alike, it’s a sport not a video game. A few post-print deadline observations of the Stoke City game :- That was dreary. As entertaining as root canal work. Once more Rovers demonstrate why we are amongst the best of the rest, not the best of the best. The absence of a catalyst to make something happen, a creative spark, a maverick if you will costs Rovers heavily in games like this. It was crying out for some ingenuity from the likes of Dack or a Holtby but nobody selected in their stead could fill the void. Maybe Stead could have filled the void...? The substitutes could arguably have been used earlier but you got the sense that it was one of those games where had we played all night, we wouldn’t have scored. The mantle of favourites clearly does not rest easily on Rovers' shoulders. A replay of the Wigan game. Even Rich Sharpe Tweeted out "Rovers 0 Wigan 0" at full time. Chalk it down to experience and move on. Disappointing. Frustrating. Sadly, all too predictable.
  21. This week's slightly extended "Accrington Observer" column... Rehabilitated Rovers' Rapid Rise Cast your mind back to the opening day of the season, newly-promoted Charlton visited Ewood as one of the pre-season favourites for relegation and Rovers were expected, unusually, to record an opening day win. It didn’t happen as we know of course. The first instance, but certainly not the last this season, of a poor result leading to expectations being lowered and the manager’s ability and acumen questioned. The atmosphere leading up to the return fixture on Saturday was heavily influenced by the respective run of results of the two teams. Charlton arrived on the back of a topsy-turvy sequence of form DLDWLW; that last W impressively coming away at Forest in midweek, whilst Rovers’ run of just one defeat in the last six seemed to indicate that this would be a tough encounter for each team. Charlton to their credit experimented with an innovative pricing experiment of £5 admission and were rewarded with an attendance of more than 25,000 (including more than 2,000 visiting fans), an increase of more than 25% on the previous home fixture. The opening exchanges pointed to the home team being inspired by the swelled ranks of their support. Their passing was sharper and more incisive than Rovers and the visitors had to work hard to establish a foothold in the opening quarter. Slowly but surely however, Rovers started to take greater control of possession and moved the ball around with increasing confidence and accuracy. The ever-lengthening injury toll has to an extent forced Tony Mowbray’s hand when selecting the team, reducing his options and preventing Bristol City (a) style reorganisation. One can only imagine that the WhatsApp group messages owe more to a Sunday league pub team than a professional football club:- Big T: “Who can make it Saturday then lads?” Dacky: “I’ll be there..but only to cheer you on...” JoRo: “Hammy still a bit tight boss...count me out” Bucko: *waving emoji, smiley face* Cornelius: “No boss...just no...*attached photo of Quasimodo*” DomSam: *waving emoji with clasped hands in prayer emoji* Mowbray’s shrewd signing of Stewart Downing allied to the youthful exuberance of Lewis Travis has certainly reinvented the midfield, Travis in particular has blossomed this season, whilst Saturday pleasingly saw the successful rehabilitation of Johnson and Buckley as his midfield compadrés. Johnson and Travis prowled and snarled, hunting like a pair of starving dogs to close down, win the ball and move it quickly to exploit space. Downing though continues to defy the ageing process, much like a footballing Dorian Gray. Somewhere in an album, there is a Panini sticker of a visibly grey, wrinkled and weary former Middlesbrough winger. It was great to see Buckley back in the team and looking lively, skipping around challenges, threading passes and doing his share of tracking and tackling.The Huddersfield tribulations seemingly a distant, if painful memory. His run and shot to open the scoring was due reward for his endeavours, albeit it took a fairly heavy deflection to wrong-foot Charlton keeper Philips. It reminded me a little of Scott Sellars, another lightweight but skilful player capable of teasing, evading then punishing the opponent. Another returnee to the starting XI after a long injury rehabilitation was Dominic Samuel. His pace and strength proved problematic for Charlton throughout. One run in particular led to strong calls for a penalty as Pearce was outmuscled and out sprinted and brought down Samuel with a combination of arms round the waist combined with falling on Samuel’s ankle that would have been rightly praised by Eddie Jones, but the referee had seen a foul by Samuel earlier in the move as the two were jostling for supremacy. Let’s be charitable and say it’s one of those that if you get away with it as a defender, you are mighty relieved. Rovers felt like they were very much the wronged party. At the back, Tosin Adarabioyo and Darragh Lenihan seem to have gelled, the City man demonstrating an eye for a pass that betrays his Guardiola heritage although his tendency to try an elaborate flick or to dwell under pressure causes the occasional palpitation. Sadly, any lingering hopes of keeping him beyond this season seem now to have worsened following Uefa's punishment, City now significantly less likely to be able to buy expensive alternatives may need to blood a few more of their academy graduates. Adarabioyo's threat from attacking positions though is constant and it was his thigh that brought the second from a free kick swung in by Downing. “To err is human, Tosin is divine” you might say. The foul leading up to the Rovers free kick was at best marginal; but as is often said – these things even themselves out, but rarely in the same game. Two-nil up away from home and of course the words “Brentford” and “Preston” were mentioned in despatches but Rovers were to prove themselves up to the task this time around. That’s not to say that there weren’t any scares, Christian Walton had made a couple of decent saves early on in the game whilst Charlton were in the ascendency but he saved the best till last with a fabulous stretching, finger-tip save that required all his height to reach. Walton also falls into the category of rehabilitated Rovers players. His form in recent weeks you hope, is the benchmark for the remainder of the season. Another tidy away win, another clean sheet, a six-point week and once more, those pesky play-offs hove into view. At 5pm, it became apparent that only Rovers and Leeds in the top ten had won and the gap to sixth was now back to a tantalising three points. Rovers seem to be following the plot of a Warner Bros cartoon, the Wile E Coyote to the Road Runner's Top Six finish if you like. Shirt sponsorship from Acme can only be a matter of time. In order to climb into those places, cement the position and send a warning message to their rivals, Rovers will have to start beating the teams above and around them. Of the current top six teams, Rovers have so far only managed to beat one of them – Brentford, at Ewood, back in November. Who’s next up? That’s right, Brentford; though this time, away from home, in a farewell to Griffin Park. If Rovers truly believe and want to establish credibility as genuine play-off candidates, winning a difficult lunchtime fixture on Saturday would be a terrific place to start.
  22. tomphil

    Stanley House

    Another ex Walker business being closed down.
  23. joey_big_nose

    John Buckley

    Thought he deserved his own thread. Based on the rave reviews he's getting seems like this guy is the most promising youth player to come through since Phil Jones. I can't think of anyone there has been such universal praise for. Got a bit of game time end of last season, and has played a lot in pre season. LET suggested he may go on loan, but I guess he may actually make the season squad given the quality he's show. In our preferred 4231 he seems most comfortable across the attacking 3 mids, but there might be a significant role for him to play in the deeper 2 mids if we want someone in off the bench to improve our passing game when we're chasing a match. We havent had that since Cairney left. Excited to see him, Davenport, Nyambe, Chapman and maybe even Hart and Rankin-Costello play a significant role next year. Plus Travis, Armstrong, Lenihan, Dack, Gallagher and Rothwell who are all established but still young and improving. Also I'm not a Brereton fan at all, but have to admit he's moved on a bit from an abject start to his Rovers career. I think how well we do is largely going to be determined by how these young players step up as while a bit of experience from Johnson and Downing will maybe help shore things up they are unlikely to substantially move the needle from last season. Would love to see a midfield of Buckley, Travis, Rothwell, Dack powering us up the table!
  24. This week's slightly extended "Accrington Observer" column... Injury-Ravaged Rovers Bounce Back Just one season in the Premier League, even finishing bottom, is the footballing equivalent of scooping the lottery jackpot. Rovers’ opponents last Saturday for example, were relegated after a single season and earned; if earned is the correct term, just shy of £100m for their efforts. To cushion the blow still further, Fulham will receive at least a further £75m or so over the next two seasons in the form of parachute payments to reward their failure. To say this gives them a head start on the majority of their divisional rivals is something of an understatement. Such an abundance of riches enabled Fulham to spend approximately £25m of the total of £33m spent by all of the Championship clubs in January window just gone. Eighteen Championship clubs kept the club cheque book locked firmly in the safe, untouched, unwanted and unnecessary. As we now know, Rovers were a member of that parsimonious group. Taking on one of the pre-season favourites for promotion is inevitably a challenge but when your squad has been ravaged by injuries and reinforcements have been as difficult to locate as a Rovers shirt in the home section of Turf Moor, you travel in hope rather than expectation. When your opponent has as its midfield fulcrum, a former Rovers Player of the Year and a man that former Rovers left-back Tommy Spurr described on our latest BRFCS podcast (out this week folks – go to www.brfcs.com/mb/index.php?/podcasts/ to hear in full !) as “absolutely, unbelievably talented...”; then it’s likely to be a long afternoon. The afternoon started emotionally, with Tony Parkes being presented to the Ewood faithful before kick-off, amidst resounding applause and one or two tears I fancy. The injury-influenced selection headache manifested itself in Rovers demonstrating a cautious approach. Much like a health & safety conference - safety-first seemed to be the maxim. The game seemed to have all the hallmarks of a cup-tie, with Rovers playing the part of the lower-league hosts, aiming to keep it tight, hoping for a breakaway or set-piece opportunity to nick a result. Fulham also seemed keen to keep it tight but you sensed that they believed they had the cutting-edge needed to score; though Fulham intriguingly haven’t won a game by more than a single goal margin since November. Fulham moved the ball faster, with more precision and posing greater danger. The probing usually started at the feet of Tom Cairney, the afore-mentioned former Rovers POTY. Watching Rovers fans could only dream of a midfield combining the talents of Cairney and Lewis Travis and wonder as to what that would do for promotion prospects. Sadly, if incongruously, it was a mistake from Travis, the Man of the Match, that set up Bryan to find Mitrovic who relished the opportunity to swivel and fire a shot past Walton. Rovers still had some chances, Gallagher tested Rodak and in fairness, Rovers did have the ball in the net only for it to be ruled out; questionably as it transpired, for offside. To the naked eye from a vantage point in the Riverside, it looked like the cross had been flicked onto Lenihan, who it should be noted, finished with aplomb. The assistant referee certainly thought there was a flick, as his flag was raised immediately and interestingly, with little in the way of protest from Rovers. However, with the benefit of TV replays, it was hard to discern whether there was a flick from a Rovers player or indeed whether Lenihan had even strayed offside. The referee’s decision is of course final – well, it is in a division that has no VAR and in fairness, justice was probably done. Rovers managed just a single shot on target in 90 minutes and that, despite at various points using Armstrong, Gallagher, Graham, Samuel and Brereton in various permutations. Rovers operating a “Bring A Striker To Work Day” it seemed. Possible redemption was at hand with a further Ewood fixture on Tuesday evening. Despite Storm Ciara’s weekend battering, the game went ahead. Tony Mowbray had lost yet another midfielder to injury, this time Joe Rankin-Costello. On a bitterly cold evening that had brass monkeys seeking refuge from the cold, Rovers recalled the talismanic Danny Graham and the stalwart Elliott Bennett for the injured Gallagher and Rankin-Costello. Interestingly, neither would last an hour. Rovers once again were out of the traps quickly with Adam Armstrong presented with a glorious opportunity to score virtually from the kick off. His finish lacked conviction but he was to have Rovers’ next two shots, seemingly keen to make amends. Most of what was good from Rovers usually involved Armstrong but lacked the required finesse in front of goal to make it really count. Hull’s most potent threat came from set pieces, most notably a corner leading to a six-yard box skirmish before the referee’s intervention awarded Rovers a free-kick for an infringement to ease fears. Former Accrington Stanley loanee Mallik Wilks ballooned a chance high, wide and handsome into the Blackburn End summing up their first half efforts. The second half started with Hull hitting the Rovers bar following a poor Lenihan clearance but it was to be a double-substitution from Tony Mowbray that was to prove to be a catalyst. Rovers seemed to blossom and a goalmouth scramble from a corner saw Lenihan stab home from close range. Many would have wagered that a single goal would prove sufficient to win this fixture, but all of a sudden, the team was inspired. Armstrong perked up and picked up the ball, drifted to the right, looked up and aimed a beauty into the top left corner, a definite goal of the season contender, bettering his own previous goal of the season contenders. "Armstrong Of The Season" ? Almost from the kick off, Hull tied themselves in defensive knots and the keeper mishit his clearance to Samuel who struck it straight back into the bottom left corner this time. From nowhere, Rovers were now in their comfort zone and the crowd could relax and enjoy the remainder of the match with no concerns, other than how to fight off hypothermia. Rovers moved up to eighth, at least temporarily and once more fuelled dreams of the play offs. However, the last two games have illustrated the gap between the very top sides in this division and the mid-table ones. Rovers are presently quite correctly positioned somewhere between the two. “The best of the rest”, just outside the play-offs feels like a more realistic stretch target – especially given a treatment room with more croc(k)s than Chester Zoo. Charlton up next, football for a fiver – what a tremendous initiative from the home side - Rovers go into the Valley and will hope that they can put the home side on the skids.
  25. Alejandro Tapia

    A rare opportunity

    well what can I say that you doesen't know already cockers? things are bad for our team Holtby out for the rest of season what a luck we have!!!... know I'm divided about that cause i trust Tony and actually he's a top manager without any doubt he has being taking some important points with a very depleted roster against the one that he had at the begging of season... Buuut it is true aswell that something wrong has to be happenig with part of staff I mean players are not straight enough to face a complete season is true we are not very deep roster and i know it's hard to try to maintain fresh or recover quick to our players if we need almoust all of them weekly but since this year started and since the last part of 2019 actually injuries is such a common thing nowadays in Blackburn.... Now we are in a very hard fight to finish on top 10 maybe a little higher than that but with the current players without a natural "brain" in the middle of park could be even harder I trust in our young lads specially Costello and Buckley but even Chapman could be the answer ...they will have to do their best to grab this golden but sad oportunity...but even if they have some mistakes let's support them cause is not easy to play when every body is waiting for you to be a heroe or something like that Dack and Holtby are great players with top quality at least Dack could be playing on premier (before his injury) and to try to cover they won't be easy for our young players... difficult times got to say but I'm sure that we can turn this into an oportunity I trust in young Rovers blood. #ImRoversTillIDie #COYB #TheMexicanRover #Top10season

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