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  1. renrag

    4th ROUND DAY

    Both Rovers and Wigan will now have a free date on January 25th. I wonder if they will show a bit of initiative and rearrange the Wednesday night fixture to that day
  2. This week - a double feature - a slightly extended "Accrington Observer" column...followed by the pre-match preview from @LoftForWords A Kick Up the R’s Following Rovers rather ignominious exit at the hands of Birmingham City in the Third Round of the FA Cup, their reward was a weekend off. In fact, their reward was a warm-weather training break in warmer climes in Lagos – Portugal that is, NOT Nigeria, I won't ever make THAT mistake at the airport again. No such luxury for the supporters of course, robbed of our live football fix, we had to go shopping, walk the dog or rely on TV to watch Shrewsbury Town try their utmost to re-kindle the flames of “the magic of the cup”. Is it really just over a month or so that Rovers were riding the crest of a wave and speculation was rife that the January transfer window could be used to strengthen the squad? Talk was of a push for the play-offs, just a couple of prudent signings and bingo...roll out the red carpet! Since then, on-field, Bradley Dack was ruled out for the season and results seriously wavered; off-field, Venky’s accounts revealed a continuing financial tale of woe, FFP warnings openly discussed and the squad remains resolutely un-strengthened. Heading into Tuesday night’s encounter with QPR, Rovers found themselves firmly in mid-table but in this crazy division, still only six points off sixth-placed Preston and with a game in hand. You could conceivably make a case for a late rush for the play-offs for any team down to sixteenth-placed Derby County. All that is needed is a bit of luck and a run where a club won say five wins out of six games to close the gap. But what sort of lower-ranking Championship side could possibly string together such a run? Rovers kicked off with an unchanged side from the fabulous away win at Hillsborough. For the kit nerds out there, QPR were resplendent in a jade green outfit enhanced by almost unintelligible gold lettering and numbers, that on a warmer evening might have made me fancy a mint Cornetto. It was the Angel of the North celebration that was on display early on for Rovers as Joe Rothwell sprayed a lovely diagonal ball to Armstrong. He controlled in impressive if unorthodox fashion, enabling him to cut inside and look up, calibrate his shooting boot and curl a lovely shot inside the far post. This mirror-image Arjen Robben routine seems to be one of Armstrong’s most effective party pieces. Rovers continued to have the upper hand, moving the ball around impressively through a midfield axis of Rothwell, Holtby and Downing with Travis acting as minder. It was Travis who next came close, pressurising the keeper into a mistake but the attempt rolled along the line rather than over it and it was gratefully hoofed clear by Rangers. Downing continued his modus operandi, operating in midfield like a one-man DHL service; dropping deep, collecting as required, distributing effectively, delivering the ball as if it was a precious Ming vase to be protected at all costs. All that is missing is a card behind the front door when his colleagues aren't on the same wavelength. Nyambe too picked up where he left off at Hillsborough, rampaging down the right at every opportunity. Rovers were defying the chills and warming to their task, forcing Chair to sit back and provide a defensive cushion to cover the dangerous and energetic Rothwell. A poignant moment then followed in the twentieth minute with a round of applause to mark the recent, untimely passing of a young Rovers fan, Tiana Thompson. Shortly afterwards, Rangers had their first real attack of the game, a long ball finding Hugill who frankly beasted Lenihan, knocking it down to Chair who returned the favour and Hugill needed no second bidding to chip over the onrushing Christian Walton. All square, out of nothing, thanks to one lapse of concentration. Unsurprisingly, this encouraged Rangers to be more progressive and raised anxiety in the home defence and home fans alike. Rovers were now having to work a lot harder to retain possession. Rovers regained the lead from a corner, even though Rothwell placed the ball conspicuously outside the quadrant (VAR? What is it good for?), then crossed for Darragh Lenihan to power home a header across the keeper to make it 2-1. How nice to report on an unmarked header in the penalty area being for Rovers benefit rather than against. One little cameo worthy of note towards the end of the first half had Rothwell and Armstrong combining outside their own penalty area to snuff out a QPR attack. Tenacious, determined and effective, it was lovely to see the unglamorous work being relished with such enthusiasm. The last few minutes were a tad torrid, Todd Kane (yes, him) crossed dangerously but Rovers hung on for the half-time whistle with their advantage intact. The second half started with Rovers bringing on Bennett for Rothwell who had not recovered from the knock sustained right at the end of the first half. It was clear early on that Rangers were determined to impose themselves on proceedings and this they did. The influential Eze started to dominate the midfield, probing and pressing, bringing his teammates into the game. Rovers struggled to hold the ball and when Travis did, in his fiftieth Rovers start, he was fouled roughly, three times in quick succession, drawing the first three yellow cards of the game. Travis seems to be becoming a marked man amongst Rovers opponents these days, presumably they recognise the danger he presents? Chances however, were few and far between, the best being a free-kick from Downing, but not having the necessary whip nor dip to trouble the Rangers keeper and later, a header from Gallagher failed to hit the target. Darragh Lenihan imposed himself on the game once more, this time defensively, proving that Rangers most certainly had a collapsible Chair in midfield, as Darragh absolutely scythed him down and rightly earned himself a yellow card. Rovers it seemed had now settled for the 2-1. Pressure built, but Rangers couldn’t create a clear-cut chance, the final whistle blew and the sense of relief was palpable. A modest attendance of 11,505 (excepting the 292 from QPR) went home happy. Next up for Rovers, is a trip to the Mowbray/Downing heartlands of Teesside. Rovers find themselves in tenth but astonishingly, only four points outside the play-offs. It will probably need more “arte” than was on display tonight to close that gap, but the “labore” is not an issue based on this evidence. Preview From Loft For Words https://www.fansnetwork.co.uk/football/queensparkrangers/news/51832/from-a-home-defeat-by-luton-to-a-5-0-away-win--interview From a home defeat by Luton to a 5-0 away win - Interview Tuesday, 28th Jan 2020 03:32 by Clive Whittingham Blackburn Rovers are a team almost as ludicrous as QPR, with defeats to Luton, Charlton and frequently Birmingham set against big wins at Sheff Wed and elsewhere. Ian Herbert tried to make sense of it all for us. How would you assess the season so far? Largely underwhelming. Much like a DVD box set where the script writers like to keep the plot twists and cliff-hangers flowing to maintain interest, the performances and results so far have ebbed and flowed from the ridiculous to the sublime to keep us on tenterhooks. Lose at home to Luton, demolish Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, standard Rovers fare really. Our current league position of mid-table is probably a fair reflection of the totality of our efforts thus far. On our day, we can play some decent stuff, but much like England at a tournament, as soon as we come up against anyone good, we tend to lose. That said we have also conjured up home defeats to Charlton and Luton plus away defeats to Birmingham (twice...once in the cup...against ten men) and Huddersfield along the way, so losing to mediocrity is now a core competency. Rovers are an equal-opportunity opponent. League Results So Far: Blackburn 1-2 Charlton (Phillips og 54 – Purrington 43, Taylor 77) Fulham 2-0 Blackburn (Cairney 34, Mitrovic 81) Blackburn 1-0 Middlesbrough (Graham pen 25) Hull 0-1 Blackburn (Williams 62) Blackburn 0-0 Cardiff West Brom 3-2 Blackburn (Phillips 22, Livermore 31, Diangana 40 – Dack 1, Johnson 45) Blackburn 2-0 Millwall (Williams 18, Dack 74) Reading 1-2 Blackburn (Swift b57 – Armstrong 8, Dack 48) Blackburn 1-2 Luton (Travis 37 – Collins 17, Pearson 57) Blackburn 1-1 Forest (Armstrong 63 – Lolley 65) QPR 4-2 Blackburn (Wells 30, Eze 48, Osayi-Samuel 60, Hugill 77 – Dack pen 57, Armstong 88) Blackburn 2-2 Huddersfield (Holtby 20, Dack 33 – Grant pen 13, Bacuna 63) Birmingham 1-0 Blackburn (Colin 31) Preston 3-2 Blackburn (Barkhuizen 53, 82, Johnson pen 65 – Rudd og 1, Gallagher 11) Blackburn 2-1 Sheff Wed (Adarabioyo 88, Buckley 90 – Murphy 83) Leeds 2-1 Blackburn (Bamford pen 30, Harrison 35 – Williams 40) Blackburn 3-2 Barnsley (Dack 24, 86, Downing 69 – Chaplin 48, Woodrow 82) Blackburn 1-0 Brentford (Dack 11) Stoke 1-2 Blackburn (Evans og 80 – Dack 13, Gallagher 84) Blackburn 1-0 Derby (Armstrong 54) Swansea 1-1 Blackburn (Ayew 10 – Graham 4) Bristol City 0-2 Blackburn (Johnson 2, Armstrong 77) Blackburn 0-0 Wigan Blackburn 1-1 Birmingham (Armstrong pen 55 – Mrabti pen 63) Huddersfield 2-1 Blackburn (Stankovic 25, Mounie 71 – Graham 7) Forest 3-2 Blackburn (Lolley 22, Grabban pen 25, 55 – Downing 39, Worral og 71) Blackburn 1-1 Preston (Armstong 3 – Harrup 17) Sheff Wed 0-5 Blackburn (Holtby 19, 45, Dawson og 36, Lenihan 48, Gallagher 90) Much like us it’s a 5-0 win one week and a disaster the next, why so inconsistent? If we could solve that mystery we could take on all-comers. We haven’t been helped by injuries but that excuse could be proffered by virtually every team in the league in reality. Tony Mowbray has developed a resolute habit of tinkering with his line-ups, formation and tactics - often within the same half - but ultimately, we lack a bit of real quality and the injury to Bradley Dack hasn’t helped that. Unforced individual errors creep in, morale slumps, effort falls away, results go awry...the players then seem to buck their ideas up...rinse & repeat. Fine margins in the Championship this season, sometimes we have been on the right side, sometimes not. It’s astonishing that we are still in with a chance of the play-offs having lost more than a third of our games. Crazy division. Where is the team strong and weak? Best players/weak links? Midfield is probably our strength simply because we have stockpiled midfielders much like Sainsbury do Creme Eggs come January 1. Notwithstanding injuries and illness a plenty, we can currently boast one of the Championship’s brightest young things & one of its most accomplished veterans. Lewis Travis is the BYT and seems recently to be adding an element of “shithousery” to his range of many talents. He has taken to winding up the opposition and their fans at will these days and is eminently capable of adding a cherry on top by then setting up or scoring a goal. A terrific prospect with a great future if he continues to develop. The gnarled veteran is Stewart Downing. Our best thirty-something signing since Mark Hughes (was Danny Graham 30 when we first signed him ? - subs please check). Downing treats possession with the utmost respect and has a passing range that is the envy of his teammates. He’s certainly shown the cynics (me...) that he still has value to add. Our defence has been brittle most of the season. Loan keeper Walton has dropped a few clangers but of late seems finally to be settling in, another loanee Cunningham had his season cut short by a cruciate injury, the third defensive loanee Adarabioyo has provided height, strength and culture to the back four; but he can’t do it all on his own. Fans attitude towards Mowbray? Seems to be polarising. One camp “the hawks”, are convinced that Mowbray is not the man to lead the club back to the Premier League and that every match he remains in charge is an opportunity wasted. They point to his spending, reluctance to blood youngsters and constantly playing players out of position. The other, “the doves” argue that he has brought us back from League One at the first time of asking, is a thoroughly decent chap, has stabilised a footballing madhouse and so deserves patience and time. The main problem with Mowbray is that he has been significantly backed in the transfer market but his record is poor. The signings of Brereton (1 in 13) and Gallagher (4 in 27) for c.£12m have potentially brought us once more to the brink of FFP trauma and now of course, we can’t even sell Dack to balance the books. Mowbray’s best signings (Dack apart) have probably been the loanees he has brought in; Reed last season, Adarabioyo and Cunningham this. Venky’s though seem to be generally satisfied with the stability he has brought and I can’t see any imminent change on the horizon. Of course were they to decide to make a change, the chances of them actually competently hiring someone better are at best uncertain and perhaps this concern stops any sustained and vocal anti-Mowbray sentiment from taking hold. As long as we are improving our league position year on year whilst not threatening our financial future, I’d take that. Hopefully Mowbray can deliver but at the moment he’s drawing down on the reserves of goodwill. Any January business? To keep the fans happy (Cynical? Me?) there seem to have been a few rumours in the local press of “bids being prepared” for Polish wingers and goalkeepers but nothing tangible nor in reality, hugely credible. Expectations are rock bottom, but on the plus side, they are being fully met. The club’s cheque book remains firmly under lock and key. Sightings of it in action next week seem less likely than Bradley Dack starting on Tuesday night. Perhaps we could try to sell Ewood Park for say £250m to the company that bought Pride Park off Derby County ? Ins: Sam Gallagher, 23, CF, Southampton, £5m >>> Stewart Downing, 34, LM, Free >>> Bradley Johnson, 32, CM, Derby, Free >>> Tom White, 22, CM, Gateshead, Undisclosed >>> Lewis Holtby, 29, AM, Unattached, Free >>> Christian Walton, 23, GK, Brighton, Loan >>> Greg Cunningham, 28, LB, Cardiff, Loan >>> Tosin Adarabioyo, 21, CB, Man City, Loan Outs: David Raya, 23, GK, Brentford, £3m >>> Paul Downing, 27, CB, Portsmouth, Free >>> Charlie Albinson, 22, GK, Southport, Free >>> Jack Rodwell, 28, DM, Released >>> Craig Conway, 34, LW, Released >>> Ben Gladwin, 27, CM, Released >>> Scott Wharton, 21, CB, Northampton, Loan >>> Charlie Mulgrew, 33, LB, Wigan, Loan POTY candidates? The aforementioned Travis and Downing are amongst the front-runners. Adam Armstrong is trying to fill the Dack-shaped goal scoring hole of late and if he keeps it up, will be in the conversation certainly. If I had to award it right now, Downing just shades it for me based on his all-round contributions thus far. Expectations for the rest of the season? After Dack was ruled out for the season we went on a wretched run that suggested relegation might rear its ugly head but things have since stabilised thankfully. I predicted 12th in your pre-season preview and I still expect to be within one place either side of that come season’s end. Play-off talk is fanciful but we should have enough to steer clear of any trouble. Famous last words...*gulp*. Links >>> Official website >>> Lancashire Telegraph – Local Paper >>> BRFCS message board and podcast >>> Rovers Chat – Blog >>> Our reciprocal interview with Rovers Chat The Twitter @ianherbert, @loftforwords Pictures – Action Images
  3. This week's "Accrington Observer" column...with a few added extras... Five Star Rovers Offer Owls No Sanctuary Thanks to the city planners of Sheffield over many iterations, the streets around Hillsborough are a warren of one-way systems, traffic lights, tram-only streets and on match-days; coned-off carriageways designed to allow the departing spectators a sporting chance of getting at least half a mile away from the ground without being run over. Experience therefore dictated that last Saturday I would park a little further away from the ground and ensure that I would not get caught up badly in post-match gridlock. I need not have worried. Football supporters the world over travel to games with no certainty of the outcome. That is of course, the joy of sport; on the day, almost anything can and does happen. This isn’t cinema, theatre, ballet or opera – nothing is scripted. choreographed or is “in the can”; here, the actors make it up as they go along. Sport is competitive improvisation. Sometimes, let’s be frank, it’s pretty mundane, but equally, every now and then, you are fortunate enough to be present at one of those “I was there...” moments, memories of which you will carry with you for the rest of your life. Saturday was one of those for sure. Going into the game on the back of a winless run stretching to six games in all competitions, the pre-match mood was subdued, expectations structured, enthusiasm in check. Hillsborough is one of those traditional football grounds, a massive Kop behind one goal, stanchions obscuring your view, four completely different stands (though how the Leppings Lane stand has never been demolished and replaced remains an open wound in English football history). Rovers had a modest, but noisy and exuberant following, little did we know what was about to unfold. A bright start saw Rovers in a kit mash-up resembling a Dundee tribute act, dictating the speed and the pattern of the game. However, an early corner somehow found its way back to Walton in three passes leaving Lenihan, Adarabioyo and Gallagher marooned upfield, believing themselves victims of a practical joke. Rovers soon got into gear though, sharp inter-passing, movement off the ball, pace and no little invention followed. Who are you and what have you done with my Rovers? The opener came from Holtby but was a result of some persistence and invention from Armstrong who was causing mayhem, repeatedly cutting in at pace from the inside-left channel. An early goal up, we’ve been here before of course. Sam Gallagher in his now accustomed wide-right role looked a handful, cutting inside his marker, using his physique but invariably fifteen to twenty yards wide of goal. If only he could have the opportunity to run onto a pass through the middle eh? Nyambe too was immense, a warhorse on the right hand side, playing full-back, midfield and wing simultaneously. The next significant moment came when midfield powerhouse Lewis Travis won a 60/40 midfield challenge that drew a foul from Wednesday’s Massimo Luongo, interpreted by the referee as a red card offence. To the naked eye it was definitely a foul, certainly a yellow, but the red card was a surprise. We have been and will be on the receiving end of some dodgy refereeing decisions, that’s football, so when one goes your way, the imperative is to capitalise and for once, Rovers did just that. “It’s more difficult to play against ten men...” is one of the great football clichés and let’s be honest, Rovers have not always been arch exponents of despatching weakened opposition, so there was some trepidation at this point. Travis picked up the ball outside the area and shaped a lovely shot arcing towards the bottom left-hand corner only for it to hit the inside of the post, rebound off the back of Wednesday keeper Dawson’s head and dribble into the goal. At this point, Rovers felt that the tide was inexorably moving in their direction, but memories of Preston away are not yet expunged. Another football cliché is muttered in the away end; “next goal is going to be important...” Well so it proved, Armstrong and Holtby linking up menacingly once again ensured that the half-time pies, pints and coffees could be enjoyed in a more relaxed frame of mind, wrapped in the comfort of three-nil security blanket. The home fans vocalised their disappointment and large swathes voted with their feet, not returning for the second half. Social media chat then informed us that Rovers had once lost a game at Hillsborough in 1960...by five goals to four; surely not? Garry Monk threw the last remaining dice at half-time making his final two substitutions but the second half continued much where the first had left off. Downing conducting the orchestra, Armstrong and Nyambe troubling the full backs and centre backs with direct running and the defence resolutely solid, albeit under minimal threat from the featherweight Owls’ attack. A corner early on was volleyed home, side-footed by Darragh Lenihan with some aplomb and there we were; over forty minutes to go but no jeopardy at all. What fresh madness is this? Holtby went into full show-boating mode, Rothwell picked up a ridiculously unnecessary yellow and was rightly substituted to prevent the referee having the chance to even up the numbers. By now, the home fans that had remained in the ground were demanding red cards for Rovers players merely for breathing noisily in the general direction of their heroes. The steady trickle for the exits continued and it was at that point even the most jaundiced Rovers fan could start to relax and really enjoy the remaining half-hour, secure in the knowledge that there was no heart for the fight remaining in the opposition. The only remaining unresolved questions; how many more, could Gallagher score from the wing, would Brereton be introduced, is this the time for a Rankin-Costello debut? The answers; one, no – he moved inside to a central role to score...I know, yes and yes. The weight of pass from Rankin-Costello to Gallagher for the fifth was worthy of Stewart Downing himself, there can be no higher praise. Gallagher, made a robust case for being played through the middle by smashing it home with his left foot and that was that. Scoring five goals in a victory doesn’t come around too often, especially away from home. I’m lucky enough to have witnessed two such trips now, albeit more than twenty-three years apart; on an actuarial basis, I might just, possibly, see one more, I really hope so ! *Thanks to Andy Currie @andy_brfc for the "before & after" photos of an emptying Hillsborough
  4. https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F402044024668 Adult Medium Shirt 3rd Kit Brand new with tags
  5. This week's "Accrington Observer" column...with a few added extras... Black(burn)adder Goes Forth Rovers fans: “But it’s the same plan that we used last time...and the seventeen times before that...” Gen. Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Mowbray: “EXACTLY...& that is what is so brilliant about it. It will catch the watchful opposition totally off guard. Doing precisely what we've done eighteen times before is exactly the last thing they'll expect us to do this time!" (with humble apologies to Richard Curtis & Ben Elton) For quite some time now, Rovers have been struggling to find a solution to the “Danny Graham Question”. Graham has proved to be one of the best value for money signings made in the Venky’s-era and perhaps even further back. The unique skills, experience and characteristics he provides sadly do not as yet include eternal youth and are proving very difficult to replace. Of course, that was before the untimely and unfortunate injury to Bradley Dack which has served to bring the problem into even sharper focus. Dack and Graham have proved to be quite the double-act for Rovers, instrumental in both the promotion success from League One and in establishing the newly-promoted side in the Championship. But now Tony Mowbray faces the task of replacing the both of them at the same time and it’s proving to be quite the conundrum. Mowbray seems to have been a proponent of the wide-striker concept for some time. Back in 2017, he signed Marcus Antonsson on loan from Leeds to play wide-left and in January 2018, added his former Coventry City confidant Adam Armstrong on loan from Newcastle to play wide-right. Armstrong’s pace lends itself to taking on and outpacing a full-back but despite this, "#minishearer" seems still to have a hankering to play through the middle. This approach has continued in the Championship albeit with a changing cast list. First Ben Brereton was brought in late in the summer 2018 transfer window. Sam Gallagher, a former Rovers loanee that had worked under Mowbray at the end of the fateful relegation season returned on a permanent deal last summer. Each has been played in the wide-right role but with little tangible success thus far. Last Saturday, against PNE, once again we enjoyed/endured the spectacle of a 6 feet, 4 inches tall striker labouring down the right flank, trying to link up with an overlapping right-back in Ryan Nyambe, all with the intention, it seems, of providing crosses for the diminutive Adam Armstrong (5 feet, 8 inches tall). I have noted in previous columns that this is a tactic that was used by Mark Hughes; but once, in specific circumstances, aimed at allowing Roque Santa Cruz to exploit Patrice Evra’s stature. It was not the default setting. Armstrong of late, thankfully, seems to have revelled in the opportunity to fill the goal-scoring vacuum created by Dack’s absence, but the bizarre spectacle of Rovers continually launching long, high balls down the middle and Gallagher trying to provide crosses from the flanks to him remains mystifying. Armstrong is clearly most potent when receiving the ball to feet, running directly at retreating defenders, unsettling them with his pace and so it proved early on against Preston. Once more against North End, Rovers hit the ground running and took an early lead. However, there were a number of Rovers fans who insisted that tactically, the worst thing Rovers could then do on Saturday was to make that a two-nil lead; dark humour indeed. As it transpired, there was no need for concern. Following a lengthy hold up which saw the unfortunate Corry Evans stretchered off following a painful and probably season-ending encounter with head-high boot of Clarke, Paul Gallagher played a delightful free-kick into the Rovers box. Despite the close attention of Johnson and Lenihan, perhaps inspired by Harry & Meghan, they chose that moment to step back from actual front-line defending. The knock down fell to Harrop who smashed the ball into the top right-hand corner leaving Walton helpless. The lead had lasted less than a quarter of an hour. Steve Waggott may well have attributed this goal to the presence of Preston fans in the lower tier of the Darwen End. What then transpired, was either a competitive local derby with neither side able to establish superiority or frankly, a dull match in which two out of form, but evenly-matched sides struggled to find any real fluency to their play – depending upon your perspective. Once more Rovers failed to better their Lancashire rivals – seven games now since a Jordan Rhodes inspired Rovers came out on top. As the poet John Hegley once quipped, "The main difference between Blackburn and Preston, is that Preston is more western...". There was little to choose between the two sides here. The highlight possibly came even before kick off, when Morten Gamst Pedersen emerged from the tunnel looking as sprightly as many of the current first-team squad and resplendent in a current Rovers shirt bearing his name and the number 12. The outstanding contributor on the field was also a veteran left-winger, the doughty Stewart Downing, another with a trusty left foot and a few years MGP’s junior; his every touch silky and considered. For those of sufficient vintage, his range of passing and ability to find a yard to cross are reminiscent of David Wagstaffe. Though Downing’s fitness levels are possibly a tad higher, Waggy’s left foot could land the ball pretty much on a given blade of grass so arguably he didn’t need to run. Rovers haven’t had much success in signing veterans in recent years but Downing thankfully has certainly halted that trend. For Tony Mowbray, the search for a Baldrick-style cunning plan goes on. Brereton wasn’t even in the squad on Saturday, rumours suggest a loan move to the Netherlands to join ADO Den Haag is in the offing and that might be best for all parties. Alan Pardew may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if he can rekindle some form in Brereton then his Wembley cup final dance deserves a reprise. Gallagher continues his struggle for form from out on the right-hand touchline and Danny Graham looks a little like Ernie Wise did after Eric Morecambe’s passing, lost without his partner in crime and contemplating a life in retirement. The January transfer window is still open but the overwhelming message coming out of Ewood is seemingly one of austerity, expectations are low, but for Mowbray, the problems grow. Charlie Mulgrew has seemingly opted to return to Rovers from Wigan rather than continuing his loan...perhaps he can play outside-right ? Mulgrew's 27 goals from 99 appearances is a strike rate that seems unlikely to be matched any time soon by Gallagher or Brereton. Next up a trip to Hillsborough and for me, a local match that offers the prospect of being back home before even 606 starts. Whether General Mowbray tries something different is open to question; after all, doing what we’ve done on nineteen previous occasions is the very LAST thing that the Owls will expect.
  6. This week's "Accrington Observer" column...with a few added extras... Lack of Dack Sets Rovers Back They say you don’t choose your football team, rather it chooses you by dint of circumstances. Call it fate or luck if you will. Just imagine the alternative. A sort of due-diligence process, whereby you scored your potential team on various characteristics and arrived at a “suitability ranking”. Many modern-day supporters happened at their favourites by simply looking at the league table or if more cosmopolitan, the Champions League winners’ roster. Had I been able to decide on the criteria to be used in such a scorecard, the prospects of my potential club to reach the FA Cup final would have been one of the key factors. I loved the FA Cup. (My choice of tense there is a conscious decision). I am of a generation that remembers FA Cup final day as being one of those rare occasions when you could watch a live game on TV (not even the League Cup final was broadcast live back then). The week after, you then had England v Scotland live in the Home Internationals, truly saturation coverage. I loved the whole FA Cup final day; much like an over-indulgent wedding, paid for by a proud father of an only daughter; no expense spared, nothing too good for his pride and joy. All that pomp, circumstance and sense of occasion rolled into an easy to consume televisual feast. The build-up, long before the days of reality TV let’s not forget, had cameras at the team hotels, on the coaches, circling helicopters following their route, pre-game interviews on the pitch; I couldn't get enough of this heady mix. Add an FA Cup final edition of “It’s A Knockout” and “Question of Sport” to the mix and that was your day pretty much sorted. I was insanely jealous of fans of lower level teams who reached Wembley – Sunderland, Fulham, Southampton, West Ham and QPR all had their moment of glory. Two semi-finals being the best we could muster; Cardiff and Old Trafford each great days out, but victory eluding us on each occasion. Morten, oh Morten, I still cannot believe you missed THAT header... We should really have won it during the Dalglish years. Victory in 1993 or 1994 would have made the perfect appetiser to the entrée of 1995’s league triumph. That Boxing Day knee injury to Alan Shearer possibly the significant contributory factor. Despite Steve Livingstone’s best efforts, the 1993 quarter final against Sheffield Utd will be remembered for a heart-breaking penalty kick defeat. Anyhow, enough whimsy, coming back to modern times – we now enjoy kick-off times all over the shop, half-empty, no three-quarters empty stadiums, VAR in some but not all games, replays in some rounds but not all, weakened teams being selected by clubs all over the country, TV coverage largely behind paywalls...what on earth has happened to this famous old competition? How did we, the supporters, ever allow it? Let’s be honest, the FA Cup is finished isn’t it? Well it most certainly is for Blackburn Rovers, for this season, before even the 3pm Saturday games kicked off. Saturday’s lunchtime encounter with Birmingham City was entirely in keeping with the current malaise surrounding the team. A number of chances created, falling to misfiring strikers, contriving on one spectacular occasion to block a goal bound shot of their own, with the Birmingham keeper and defence AWOL. Scant consolation is that Danny Baker no longer produces his famous "Own Goals and Gaffes" videos, for this particular clip would have been a shoo-in. Since that excellent win at Bristol City, the high point of an unbeaten run which raised hopes of January fuelling a promotion push, the talk has instead moved to noting that it’s now five games without a win in all competitions. Rovers seem to have discovered and mined a rich seam of inconsistency over the last 12 months or so with an efficiency that would have put the most productive members of the NUM to shame. This latest sequence though has caused more than a little concern, coming as it does after the serious injury recently sustained by Bradley Dack. There were plenty of unsubstantiated rumours doing the rounds that the current transfer window would see Rovers cashing in on their prime asset, a potential sale to West Bromwich Albion being the most vaunted destination. The recent publication of Venky’s London Ltd accounts (Rovers’ parent company) indicate that losses continue to grow despite promotion. If sufficient income can neither be generated on matchdays, nor via commercial activities, then logically, player sales is the only way to go. Of the current squad, Dack is very much the crown jewel, his injury may well have upset his fellow players, supporters and finance director equally, but for fundamentally different reasons. On the field, the Forest league game and Birmingham cup game highlighted that without Dack, Mowbray remains unsure which formation is the best alternative. Quite often, playing several different ones within the ninety minutes. Versatility is a much-prized asset but players like Stewart Downing have played at least four positions, Gallagher and Brereton continue to be used in wide positions and Armstrong has played wide left, right and centrally, often in the same game. The search for a “Dack-less formation” goes on, but this constant tinkering has been occurring for over a year; the inconsistencies in form likewise. The expectations of supporters for the window are now being managed by Mowbray with talk of there being “no treasure chest”. At best it seems, a loan or two, perhaps not even that. The “need to sell first” chat is gathering momentum, but with Dack injured, who else could raise the necessary finance? More to the point, cash in the bank doesn't score goals nor make saves or tackles, so it would have to be spent wisely – and how confident would any fan be in that regard currently? Sadly, the two substantial fees spent by Rovers in the last year have resulted in under-achievement and deep disappointment. Sam Gallagher and the increasingly forlorn Ben Brereton, seem unable to live up to the promise ignited by the size of their fees. Of course, the fees aren’t set by the players but they seem to be having a similar effect on them as a sizeable fee once did on Kevin Davies. The impact on Brereton especially is heart-wrenching. Many Rovers fans will have read Matt Jansen's excellent book over the Christmas holidays and will have learned of the fragile nature of confidence and how difficult it is, once lost, to restore in an elite athlete. At this point, one has to wonder whether Rovers should engage the services of a sports psychologist like Prof Steve Peters to work with Ben to rebuild his confidence. If you spent £7m on a supercar, you would in all likelihood ensure it was regularly serviced and maintained. Rovers cannot afford to write this fee off, they surely must consider all options to recover this situation and help the player. Ultimately as we know, Davies had to leave, start again and reinvent himself (very successfully) at a local rival under the tutelage of a manager once described by David Dunn the best man manager he ever played for, yes, Sam Allardyce of course. Right now, given the pressure that is starting to build and the recent caustic press comments of the manager, the chances of Brereton, Gallagher and Mowbray all being at Ewood in January 2021 seem slim. Curiously though, at that point, by dint of circumstances, we will almost certainly still have Bradley Dack.
  7. Never going to happen (so don't come at me saying "Player X broke his leg last year and can't walk so this is a ridiculous thing to suggest") etc.. But fun to fantasy book a Blackburn all stars game. I went with a 2003-7 vs 2007-12 kind of vibe myself... Q1: Who wins? Q2: How many fans turn up if they do an MGP testimonial? Q3: Who would you LOVE to see play one more time in a charity game at Ewood Park?
  8. Bigdoggsteel

    Player of the year (so far)

    So, not that easy I don't think. Lets be having your votes so! Funnily Walton could be a contender for this and worst player so inconsistent has he been. Inconsistent being the key word for the entire team. Have to probably give it to Armstrong as things stand.
  9. Worst goals-to-minute ratios for strikers in the Championship this season: 1) Sam Gallagher - a goal every 727 minutes 2) Kieffer Moore - 618 3) David Nugent - 611 4) Jack Marriott - 465 5) Atdhe Nuhiu - 406 THIS is the truth. He isn't good enough. https://twitter.com/TheSecondTier/status/1213019919324983296 - Source
  10. chaddyrovers

    Walton stats

    Christian Walton, Darren Randolph, Kiko Casilla, Freddie Woodman and David Raya's 2019/20 stats compared and ranked. Goalkeeping is a very subjective position so take from it what you will. Great for Blackburn fans to compare Raya and Walton! https://t.co/RY0Sq49RFB
  11. Doogs

    Too many changes

    What are you thoughts on the number of changes from game to game. Rotation as Tony calls it. 28 changes in last 5 games...I notice Liverpool played last night with one change. I feel the constant swopping and changing has cost us points.
  12. This week's "Accrington Observer" column...with a few added extras... That Was Then, This Is Now Way back in January 2010, the fresh, new decade was ushered in with the New Year’s Day Premier League table showing Blackburn Rovers in a respectable thirteenth; a place and a point above the Owen Coyle-led Burnley. Just one week later, Coyle was to de-camp to the side eighteenth in that table, Bolton Wanderers; continuing his grand management tour of Lancashire, but condemned never again to hit the high watermark of his time at Burnley. If only that was the last we were to hear of Mr Coyle... That season would end with Rovers in tenth and seemingly established as a Premier league club. Our nearest and dearest would suffer relegation in May 2010, whilst Rovers and Bolton would survive the drop until 2012. It’s fair to say that the last decade has been tumultuous for Rovers. The Walker Trust eventually sold the club late in 2010 to the now infamous Indian chicken conglomerate, Venky’s. The logic of that purchase evaded many at the time and little has emerged subsequently to explain the rationale. What is beyond doubt is that in terms of expensive hobbies, the purchase of Rovers is perhaps second only to Elon Musk’s fixation with outer space. Though in his defence, Musk’s venture can at least boast a record of a successful lift off and delivery of stratospheric expectations;and in his case, lack of atmosphere is a pre-requisite for normal working conditions. Rovers began the decade led by a rugged former centre-back turned manager, ably assisted by a former full-back, sitting thirteenth in the league. Post-Venky’s, well...there are parallels but clearly, the 2019 vintage doesn’t boast a squad with more than twenty internationals competing effectively in the top division. The question as to when Rovers might again share such an exalted status is one that has vexed supporters now since 2012. The last twelve months has served to demonstrate that with a solid, dependable and capable squad, a challenge for the play-offs seems tantalisingly to be within reach but that same squad, on its day, is more than capable of turning in some truly woeful displays. Throughout 2019, form has arrived and departed with all the predictability and reliability of a Northern Rail train. The end of December offered up a glorious opportunity to raise the benchmark of expectations with a chance to capitalise on a very tidy unbeaten run with two eminently winnable home fixtures against Wigan and Birmingham, followed by an away trip to struggling Huddersfield. If ever a sequence of results was to capture the year’s frustrations in a microcosm, this was it. In a really decent gesture to the wider football family, Rovers donated some complimentary tickets for the Birmingham game to Bury FC fans who have been without a team to support this season thanks to the unseemly demise of their club. After watching the spectacle served up, one can only imagine if some of those supporters re-evaluated their lack of live football and concluded that it was not perhaps as bad a fate as first feared. The Birmingham game will not go down in the annals of history as one of the great Boxing Day encounters. That it took penalty kicks for each side to score summed up the levels of creativity and attacking verve on display. That penalty kicks were so softly conceded also demonstrated the defensive naivety on display. A poll on the BRFCS Twitter feed before Christmas voted that the best performance of 2019 was the 2-0 victory away at Bristol City, just twelve days earlier. A side that contained six changes had adapted swiftly to record a notable and stylish victory. Here, a side that also contained six changes struggled for fluency. That same poll on BRFCS voted Bradley Dack as player of 2019, there was no doubt that his guile, cunning and trickery was missed here and will be missed for the most part of 2020 for that matter. The year and the decade were incomplete however without a visit to Huddersfield. Once more, Mowbray was to ring the changes – five this time - albeit three enforced by injuries. Desperately seeking a formation and tactics to fill a Bradley Dack shaped hole, Graham and Gallagher were selected but it wasn’t easy to discern the formation. It looked like young John Buckley was to take on the mantle of the right-winger in waiting in a 4-4-2. It was not to be a successful experiment and the key feature of this game was the constant tinkering with formations and tactics. Rovers started brightly, scored early but handed the initiative back to Huddersfield almost immediately. Rovers passing accuracy was appalling. Nobody emerged with credit on this score. Substitutes were thrown on in an attempt to change the game but the month was to end with a whimper; toothless, disorganised and shambolic. In a delightful display of gallows humour, a Rovers fan on Twitter announced that he had won two tickets to the upcoming Preston game. Quick as a flash the replies rolled in “second prize three tickets...”, “third prize a half season-ticket...”. Glorious! 2019 has at various times threatened a play-off push and then almost immediately, a pivot to relegation form. With the loss of the talismanic Dack, Mowbray’s penchant for playing strikers out wide, Danny Graham’s age catching up with him, the defence struggling with the loss of Cunningham and the potential loss of Adarabioyo; Tony Mowbray currently has more on his plate than Homer Simpson at an “all you can eat buffet”. The decade therefore ends with Rovers a division lower, crowds down and massive losses being racked up year upon year. What will happen in the next ten weeks frankly is impossible to predict, where the end of 2029 will find Blackburn Rovers is anybody’s guess...but we can (and will) continue to hope...and dream. Footnote :- just as I was finishing this column, the Venky's London accounts were published and have been analysed on their own thread on here but it brings into sharp focus the extent of the dilemma facing the owners of Championship clubs confronted with FFP regulations but a desire to chase the dream of Premier League football. Rovers are entirely in hock to Venky's. They pay the bills, they cover our losses and without them, to stay solvent, we would have to hack our wage bill so dramatically that we would be looking at Accrington Stanley as our natural local rivals. With crowd numbers largely stagnant, TV money helpful but nowhere near PL levels, the only other realistic source of income for Rovers is the sale of players. We are back to the pre-Jack model for the club. The strong rumour circulating is that Dack was likely to be sold in January for a tidy sum, but we all know why that is off the table, so the club now has to plug a further income hole off the pitch and more importantly, on the pitch. It could get a bit rocky over the next 3/4 months as there seems to be little headroom for spending in January based on these latest numbers. Those promising academy prospects like Buckley, Rankin-Costello, Magloire and Wharton are the future - whether as on-field contributors, or a means of bringing in transfer fees...ideally of course, both. Hold on to your hats folks... Happy New Year everyone !
  13. Firstly I'd like to wish all Rovers' fans a happy Christmas and a fantastic 2020. What's your best remembered Rovers Christmas fixture? After 55 years of watching Rovers, mine is 26th December 1977: nothing since has come remotely close... It's hard to smile when you're 3 nil down, The Rovers giving you the run around.....
  14. So as we approach the January window, I figured it was time for a look back at our summer transfer dealings. I've done it the last few seasons now, and it's been fair to say that our transfer policy up till now has been a mixed bag. Below are my thoughts on how we did this summer and am interested in the opinions of others. Please note, this is an evaluation based on our half season so far, not just our current great run, nor our 6 game winless run, but hopefully a balanced look at the 5 months. Also factored in to my thinking is cost and squad balance and needs. Walton - 3 A poor signing as the clangers remain prevalent without the extraordinary saves of Raya to help him out. Poor distribution too. What makes this signing worse is that Walton is only on loan, meaning that even if he does eventually develop (doubtful imo) we won't be the ones who benefit. Add in he can be recalled, albeit that is only a drawback because of the incompetence of our understudy, and the fact it's not really building forward and progressing (new keeper next year) and you really question the sense of this signing. Tosin - 8 A few bits hit and miss but we are much more defensively solid with him in the side. Still think we needed a hard nut centre back of our own, but he's the next best thing. Quality distribution is a real plus, and is a big improvement defensively on Mulgrew and Rodwell. We don't have enough centre backs to take advantage of his versatility, and he is only on loan, but despite these minor gripes Tosin has been a great addition to the team. Cunningham - N/A He looked like he would be a good signing and boost the team but an injury early on means its unfair to rate him one way or another. Shame, as I suspect he would have made a big difference, but don't want to criticise or praise TM on an unknown. Johnson - 4 Started brightly but quickly fades. Seems to be the story of his season and every time he plays (bar the last game). A really promising start but attitude and lack of fitness have meant he's now below Evans, and I'm not sure he's much better in Bennett in that role too. Given his age means he's not a long term signing who will improve, and his overall lack of impact on the first team, this seems like a real waste of a wage. He's ok but given we had a couple of other players who can do a job as well if not better there, it doesn't seem like a step up improving the team. Funds would have been much better used supporting the defence then adding another ageing average centre mid in. Holtby - 8 Not fully hit the ground running due to fitness issues, but then if he didn't have said issues he wouldn't be at Rovers. A quality player on the ball, and fits well into our system. Think as his fitness improves we'll see more from him and a bargain on a free. A very clever signing. Downing - 9 A very clever signing. Not had a bad game yet, and done well in a couple of positions. He gives us balance and width on the left and a good supply of crosses for our strikers. He's also proved a reliable left back which is something we haven't had in the squad of late bar a brief dalliance with Cunningham. All in all, performing above and beyond expectations. Shame he is 35 and won't be around for that long. Had we got the rest of our transfer business right I feel that Downing would have been the final piece of the jigsaw that would push us towards promotion. Chapman - 2 Not sure whether it's attitude or fitness but given TM has worked with him before, this can't have come as a surprise. So just a waste of a wage, which was entirely avoidable. Gallagher - 4 Yes, there have been an improvement of late, and yes there are signs of hope. But we needed a replacement ready to take Graham's place and Gally isn't that (yet). Additionally only 3 goals isn't a great return for half a season. Not that TM helped by putting him on the wing on numerous occasions. There's been a fair number of indifferent and poor performances up front and on the wing and given we spent most our budget on him, this really isn't the sort of return that you need. The money could have been spent better - especially on the defence and keeper position, and he hasn't performed like what we should get for a £5 million striker. That said given we own him and his age, the promising signs mean that he could develop and become a good player. The problem is that wasn't what we wanted/needed this season. Overall imo another season of boom and bust. There are issues of the transfers we didn't do - namely a few more defenders and a back up keeper. It only took the Cunningham injury for us to look very thin on the ground, whilst our current keeper is safe as houses regardless of how he plays as he has no competition/competent back up. The positive is that the successes have been very successful, and there haven't been any absolute expensive flops such as Whittingham and Bereton. Some may think I've been overly harsh on Gally and Johnson but I think when fees are considered and what was needed, then they haven't matched up to what is required. That said neither is the utter flop of previous expensive failures, and aren't liabilities, so perhaps that is a step in the right direction. Overall though another season of 50:50 in the transfer window from TM.
  15. This week's "Accrington Observer" column takes a poetic turn.... ‘Twas the Night Before, the Night Before Christmas (with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore ) ‘Twas the night before, the night before Christmas and all round the ground, No home fans were singing, not even a sound, The passing was poor, not with enough care, Hoof it into the area, or somewhere near there. The fans were all settled, all snug in their seats, With visons of a home win as their Christmas treat, Mum in a bobble hat, dad in a cap, Well it was so dull, you had time for a nap. When a cross came in, Danny Graham was clattered, The referee saw nothing wrong with the matter, Fans stood up to shout, frustration to the fore, We could play here all night and still never score. Floodlights shining down on the well-tended grass, Wigan attacker falling down on his...behind, When, what to my wondering eyes should appear A shot hit on target, a goal seemed so near. With Holtby now on, so lively and quick, His passing composed and with time for a flick, No difference it made, the goal never came, Mowbray whistled and shouted and called them by name; "Now Darragh! Now Ryan! Now, Arma and Dacky! On, Danny! On, Stewart! Don't keep passing backy...” To the edge of the box, Put it over the wall, Now dash away Arma, dash away all! The passing remained poor though, all through the game, No matter which player, the end result the same, The ref whistled loud, again and again, The home crowd did groan, a familiar refrain. Bradders went down, clutching his knee, A sight no Rovers fan wanted to see, It didn't look good, he went down in great pain, He’ll receive our best wishes again and again. Wigan grew stronger, starting to feel bold, Cook on the touchline, no longer cold, Walton the hero, not once but twice, Frustrating old teammates must have felt nice. A goalless draw and a pretty poor game, Not what was ordered, a performance so lame, Seven changes it seems unsettled the team, But promotion or play-offs remain in our dreams. Mowbray sprang to his feet on the ref’s final whistle, All off down the tunnel and no doubt this’ll, Be what he said as he disappeared out of sight, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!" We’ll all be back again on Boxing Day, “Big Club” from Brum the team that we’ll play, Let’s hope for three points and a well-deserved win, A late Christmas present to make the fans grin. Now it seems that all that is left to say, Is hope you enjoyed your Christmas Day, May the wins keep on coming, bringing great cheer, And make 2020 a very good year! Thanks for reading my various musings so far this season, hope you have enjoyed them and that you’ll continue to do so into the New Year. Have a very Merry Christmas from me & everyone at www.BRFCS.com. @ianherbert (Old Blackburnian) * special thanks to @St_Jimmy_77 for the photos...
  16. Bohinen 22

    Pie eaters

    What a classless bunch they are. Singing derogatory songs about a player as they're getting stretchered off. Cook swearing and arguing every decision. Morsy wandering around acting like the thug he is. I could go on. On the other hand, as much as I dislike Cook, he got his tactics spot on. Slowed down our transitions and passed it well and got stuck in. They'll be too good to go down.
  17. A slightly longer version of this week's "Accrington Observer" column... Everybody Look What’s Going Down At the end of a tortuous and hard-fought campaign, the candidates had put their records out there to be evaluated, making strong claims, though each arriving at this judgement day from fundamentally different positions. Irrespective of your personal opinions and preferences, the winner had to be respected, whilst all that was left for the loser was simply to learn from the experience and try harder next time. Marcelo Bielsa may have won the November Manager of the Month, but Tony Mowbray has perhaps won the intellectual argument. Mowbray remains in charge to oversee a period of mature reflection over his personal contribution, no doubt relieved that the curse of the award would be a burden for Bielsa to carry. The results from last Saturday certainly backed up that presumption. Rovers recent form has served to demonstrate that the Championship this season is far from cut and dried. The top two may have opened up a gap, but it is far from irretrievable; especially if the curse of the Manager of the Month continues to work its magic. Simply string a couple of wins together and a rise up the table is assured. Win five out of six and Robert may well be your mother's brother. At the time of writing, the points spread from third to thirteenth is six points – merely a couple of wins..! In hindsight, the Preston game might well prove to be a watershed moment in the season. All of Rovers’ foibles laid bare in one handy ninety-minute package. Vibrant, penetrative attacking, leading to fragile confidence and shambolic defending; would the real Blackburn Rovers please stand up ? Since then, something has definitely changed. In the words of the old Buffalo Springfield song;(this'll bring the teenagers flocking - ed) “There’s something happening here, What it is ain’t exactly clear...” First up, another resilient midweek performance, away to a sprightly Swansea City, one of the early favourites for promotion, who themselves had hit a rocky patch of form in November. Would Rovers provide their by now, surely patented, opposition rehabilitation service? Well no, not this time. In fact, had Bradley Dack not demonstrated a serious inability to calculate, (with the precision usually associated with his finishing); just when and how to secure a red card in order to ensure Christmas off, (it needed to be violent conduct Bradders, or wait until the Bristol City game); then all three points really ought to have been travelling north after the game. The opening goal from Graham, against one of his many former employers was a delight. A fluent move, slick inter-passing, prompted once again by the reborn Evans, to Dack and then Armstrong and a clinical finish from DG. Swansea responded quickly though; a corner led to Ayew being allowed a virtually free header at the edge of the six-yard box. Gallagher created a great chance for himself towards the end but was foiled by the keeper. With Dack’s foolish dismissal evening things up, Rovers were unable to capitalise fully on a man advantage, a draw was probably a fair result. Last season, the trip to Ashton Gate proved to be one of the horror show away performances that have punctuated the last year or so. It was in fairness a horrible performance and I suspect that many travelling fans heading south this time around, did so in hope rather than expectation. Once the team-sheet was published, showing six changes, then it seemed that “Tony’s Tombola” was in full use. “Courageous”, “foolhardy”, “reckless”, “ballsy”; you pays your money you takes your choice as to how to describe the selection. From my perspective, it was brave, but it served to reduce my expectations of a decent result come 5pm. Mowbray called it spot on though. He sees the players day in day out, he knows who is in or is approaching the "red zone", his decision is final. In what was proving to be a great week for Johnsons, Bradley of the Ewood parish seized the opportunity provided, by scoring a belter early on from a smart corner routine from Holtby. How nice it was to see Rovers score a training ground move rather than concede one. Through some robust midfield tackling on his part, Johnson capped off a fine performance by setting up the second for substitute Armstrong to finish coolly, late in the second half. His early celebration of the impending goal, captured on the camera behind the goal was a delightful cameo. City had two glorious gilt-edged chances, one in each half and taking just one of them clearly would have potentially changed the outcome of this encounter. But Rovers capitalised on these errors and with a clean sheet to boot, this was a very different outcome than 2018’s vintage. It was pleasing to see a side accommodate six changes yet still play with cohesion, confidence and no little style. No problems with impending cabinet reshuffles here. Each player knew his portfolio and much like an underwear model, had been well briefed. Special mention to Christian Walton who seems a lot happier playing behind this new-look defence. The return of Lenihan and Nyambe has certainly provided solidity, but one of the most pleasing features has been the performances of Amari’i Bell – much maligned and in fairness, not entirely without justification, he has blossomed in recent weeks when called into action. Long may his performances chime with the Rovers fans. Since the Deepdale disaster, it’s six wins, one draw and one defeat. That’s promotion form...if it sustains over the second half of the season of course and that is the key question. I’m not sure who the real Blackburn Rovers are, but I do rather like this incarnation and there is certainly something happening here. The song continues : “A thousand people in the street Singing songs and carrying signs Mostly say, hooray for our side...” The Christmas and New Year programme is renowned for its unlikely scorelines. It seems just the whiff of basting turkey or mince pies causes football teams to do crazy things, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but that said, we should not fear any of our upcoming opponents. It just remains to wish you, our lovely readers, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year; may 2020 bring you and your's health and happiness (and may Mrs Old Blackburnian’s recovering broken ankle soon have her back in first-team contention!).
  18. As the decade draws to a close which has been a very turbulent time to be a rovers supporter but thankfully there does seem to be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Granted we have spent a significant amount of time outside the premier league. What’s everyone’s team of the decade.. thoughts? Robinson Salgado Samba Nelsen Olson Phil Jones Jermaine Jones Dunn Pedersen Yakubu Rhodes
  19. Think that picking a player of the Decade is quite hard. Mainly because you have to plough thru the period from 2010 to 16 at least....and wince. SO what is the worst team of the decade? The one with all the wastrels in. The one that cost all the money or the players who were always injured. Captain : Danny Murphy Dickson Etuhu (wince) Bradley Orr Vince Grella (sicknote) Maybe Jason Steele (never saved anything) That Centre Forward that came on at Watford Away in the 85th minute and got sent off Jordan Slew Maybe: Ben Goodwin (saw him at Morecambe and looked good) Numerous Portuguese players who never played Manager: Steve K***** (undisputed) What do you think? I suppose if we put them in formation they would not stick to it.
  20. We've had Team Of The Decade... We've had Player Of The Decade... and seeing as we all agree on both so clearly (not ) I thought why not throw a spanner in the works with GOAL Of The Decade. Very tough because there's so many to remember and so many easily forgotten. Anybody have any suggestions or favourites? To Help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twWxBlCxViQ [2018/19] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F38Lhk0lNg&t=29s [2017/18] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeIeXZ8yH88 [2016/17] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXmsEbDYSIw [2015/16] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzNchl3PKQM [2014/15] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlD0xN0Ox5s [2013/14] Nothing further back than 2013 in terms of a Blackburn produced video that I can find, so for those three years "2010-13" you're on your own!
  21. Make no mistake, it's not been the best decade for Rovers. In the 90s there'd have obviously been plenty of candidates for this. 2000s likewise - Friedel and Tugay both had pretty much the whole decade with us, while we had good, solid PL players like Nelsen, Emerton, Pedersen, Dunn etc with us for years. Bit trickier between 2010 and now. Dunn was with us for half of it but probably also spent half that time unavailable, Rhodes was here for three and half years and more than did his bit. Conway will go down as a decent player for us, Hanley was a decent regular for years but meh....I guess Dack's had an excellent couple of years so far......what are we saying?
  22. Thanks to Mrs Old Blackburnian "doing an Andre Gomes" to her right ankle last Friday night, there isn't an Old Blackburnian column as such this week as I've been otherwise engaged. Instead, here is a piece from the latest @4000Holes magazine to fill the gap. Hopefully back to normal next week...the column, not Mrs OB's ankle...oh, go buy 4000 Holes, it's terrific..! Saturday Kitchen with Tony Mowbray (as watched by BRFCS.com’s @IanHerbert) Saturday Kitchen: Tony welcome to the show, great pleasure to have you on the programme...are you a dab hand in the kitchen then? Tony Mowbray (for it is he): Aye...well I’m partial to a chicken parmo as a rule and they do a lovely “croque monsieur” in the Costa in Yarm...one of Danny’s favourites that, so I like to think my tastes are cosmopolitan...Normally wor lass does the cooking but I like to help out every now and then... SK: and I understand that you have a signature dish that you are going to show us today? TM: That’s right...it’s my own, unique take on the staaaple dish of students the world over...Spaghetti Bolognese... SK: I see, but with a twist Tony? TM: Aye...nothing frustraaates me more than seeing good food and spices going to waste, especially if they’re my old favourites....so I like to add them to the mix so they feel part of the recipe. They rarely let me down and I feel that you’ve got to trust them to do their job you know...when to sit back in the flavour...when to combine with the vegetables...when to pep up the stock...that kind of thing... SK: Well Tony, I am intrigued so let’s get you over here to the hob and get yourself started... TM: First thing is to choose your pan...now most people use a heavy bottomed frying pan to fry but for me; your milk pans, your saucepans, your casseroles...they deserve respect and I often brown off my mince in a milk pan like this... SK: Tony, that is unusual to say the least... TM: It's the versatility I admire...your milk pan here can warm up milk for sure but it can slot into the back, the middle or the front of the hob here and be equally effective in any position... SK: But Tony...most people use a frying pan or even a wok are you sure that... TM: (interrupts) Now I have been in this game for many years and I have cooked faggots and peas in the Black Country, haggis in Glasgow and of course a chicken parmo back in my beloved Teesside so I think I can knock up a solid Bolognese here... SK: Well if you are sure Tony... TM: So we’ll start by chopping some onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and celery to make a solid back four to build on. Except we don’t seem to have any onions or celery...I had borrowed some from celery from my mate Colin in Cardiff but if you ask me it looked more like leeks but anyhow...I can make do and mend here with some baked beans, tomato ketchup and maybe a bit of black pepper... SK: You value versatility Tony clearly...when you’re cooking wouldn't you find it to be a better idea to have a fully stocked store cupboard with all the necessary ingredients? TM: You’d think so wouldn't you? But what I like is start a recipe without truly being fully certain of how it’s going to turn out. For instance, I started making a cracking Lancashire HotPot a few weeks back and as I was slowly braising some lamb I’d borrowed and slicing the potatoes it all looked fabulous and smelt terrific...I’m not sure what went wrong...my sous chef dropped the casserole dish, another 45 minutes in the oven and it all seemed to dry up and lose its flavour proving to be an utter disappointment. The family weren’t keen on it so I ended up giving it to the dogs. It was a proper dog’s breakfast you might say... SK: You don’t follow a recipe book then Tony? TM: Well I have some standard approaches to the kitchen and some “go to” recipes that I can feel I can rely upon in difficult circumstances...but as I say, I do like to throw in a curve ball every now and then... SK: Well I can see that Tony...you’re now adding...is that corned beef? To the baked beans and you’re smothering it in strawberry jam... TM: The jam has really impressed me at breakfast...performing exceptionally on toast...white at home and seeded brown away... but it’s time to see if it can step up to the challenge of contributing to a Bolognese...Many chefs wouldn’t do it this way but I think the jam can learn from the experience and become a better preserve... SK: Tony...where’s your pasta ? TM: Aye...well Steve says that our European supermarket scouting network is still being set up and so I prefer to use more traditional domestic produce...I mean post-Brexit that might be all we can use you know, so growing our own carbohydrate is crucial just in case the fancy foreign ingredients prove to be too expensive... SK: So you’re not actually using pasta Tony ? TM: No. *pauses* Potatoes. Very versatile your spud, it can make your mash, your roasties, your new potatoes...chips of course...what’s not to like ? I think potatoes need to be included in every menu personally...they’re definitely a favourite of mine... SK: Now it’s all coming together there Tony...you have baked beans, corned beef, strawberry jam and...a jacket potato...what are you doing now Tony? TM: Well thinking about it...the strawberry jam doesn't really go does it? SK: Well I didn't like to say to be honest... TM: No...it’s lonely, isolated and struggling to integrate....so what I’ll do is put some mustard alongside it, take off the potato and ask the corned beef to play dessert...so there you have it... “Mowbray Spaghetti Bolognese” SK: Well Tony...I can safely say that’s the most unusual Spaghetti Bolognese I think I’ve ever seen...do you get asked back to cook often? TM: Not really, no. SK: Thanks Tony.
  23. Nelsonthedog


    Does anyone else miss this formation? 2 CF gives a better chance of scoring goals imo. Why has it been abandoned in the modern game?
  24. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column Who is Rovers Greatest Manager (...of the last 50 years) ? On an international weekend without club football, thank goodness for Twitter. Last week a Tweet asked “Who is your club’s greatest-ever manager?”. My first reaction ? Bingo, this week’s column sorted..! My Rovers viewing started in 1969, therefore I’m going to restrict consideration here to the last fifty years so that my first-hand experience of watching Rovers can inform the commentary. The downside of this approach means that Bob Crompton’s FA Cup winning reign from 1926-1931, Johnny Carey’s first spell in charge from 1953-1958 which saw Rovers return to the top-flight and Dally Duncan leading Rovers to the 1960 FA cup final are all ineligible, though worthy achievements. This will be of course, entirely a matter of subjective opinion and heavily influenced by personal biases as you shall see. Any comparison of achievements must also consider the context of those achievements; notably the resources available, how they were used and the personal impact of the manager in question. In true “Top Of The Pops” style, let’s count down from five to one...if at this point you are hearing Alan Freeman’s dulcet tones over the legendary theme, “At The Sign Of The Swinging Cymbal”; then my friend, we are on the same page... 5. Mark Hughes Hughes joined Rovers as a player in October 2000 on a free transfer from Everton, one of many Rovers signings over the years that I have vocally questioned, only to have the evidence of my poor (and premature) judgement rammed down my throat. Two goals on his debut against Tranmere indicating that perhaps Souness knew what he could add. However, it is his managerial record we are considering and Hughes returned to Ewood in 2004 to take over a side bereft of confidence and potentially on the road to relegation. Hughes subsequently led Rovers to two FA Cup semi-finals, UEFA cup qualifications and fashioned a side of skill allied to strength, leading the Guardian to christen us “Blackeye Rovers” in their “The Fiver” column, following the clash between Andy Todd and Robin van Persie in the Cardiff FA Cup semi final. A team that contained the likes of Robbie Savage, Roque Santa Cruz and David Bentley gave Rovers fans some great moments. Arguably, his reign at Rovers was to prove to be the high-water mark of Hughes as a manager, as despite his promising start, subsequent appointments failed to live up to the hype. High Point: 4-3 win at Ewood over Manchester United in 2006 4. Graeme Souness Souness, initially at least, was exactly the right man, at the right club at the right time. Rovers were in danger of being cast adrift in the second tier, or perhaps even worse and the whole club seemed to need a shake-up. The iron-man image of Souness was just what was required to reinvigorate an ailing set-up on and off the pitch. Souness built on the young talent at his disposal, namely the exciting triumvirate of Duff, Dunn and Jansen and added to it some quality and experience with the likes of Berg, Hughes and of course, the inimitable Tugay. For signing Tugay alone, Souness could be regarded as something of a messiah. Promotion was soon followed by a triumph in the League Cup, ensuring Rovers joined the pantheon of clubs to have won all three main domestic trophies. The signings of Andy Cole and then Dwight Yorke creating a buzz, the future seemed bright. However, slowly and surely, the abrasive side of Souness seemed to alienate some of his key players - most memorably Yorke in a 5 a-side match. When Newcastle came calling, many suspected that the timing salvaged his reputation and prevented Rovers having to dismiss him following a poor start to the season. The signing of Javier de Pedro summing up latter-days Souness. High Point: Cardiff, 2002 3. Howard Kendall Kendall joined Rovers as player-manager from Stoke City, on the back of a recommendation from Jimmy Armfield, after the Rovers board had tried to secure Armfield’s services. He took over a disjointed, dispirited team that had just suffered relegation and re-shaped them in his mould; hard-working, industrious, tenacious, organised but with flair and ingenuity when required. Securing promotion from the third division back to the second in his first season; incredibly, he almost made it back to back promotions the following year. Rovers capacity to avoid defeat resulting in a number of drawn games that ultimately would cause heartbreak as victories were required. That he managed all of this at a time when Rovers financial peril meant that (allegedly) nothing brighter than a 40w bulb flickered in the offices, tea bags were dried out and used twice and Kendall himself it is said, used to buy the milk for the staff tea, is little short of astonishing. His influence as a player should also not be under-estimated, but as he later went on to prove with Everton, he was indeed also a great manager. Had he stayed at Ewood longer than two seasons, perhaps he would have been indisputably Rovers’ best ever, but it was Everton that were to reap the benefits of his Rovers apprenticeship. High point: Gigg Lane, April 1980 2. Kenny Dalglish Dalglish is one of the legendary figures in British football and that he ever managed Rovers at all is still a source of astonishment. For younger readers, imagine Pep Guardiola quitting Man City next February and by October, being installed as the new Rovers manager...yes, it was THAT big at the time. Dalglish brought gravitas and instant credibility to the role, able to attract players to Rovers that wouldn’t have given (and in some instances didn't give) us a second glance previously, he was serious about his work and what he was expected to deliver. His signings were astute, his team building relentless and the results inexorably rolled in. Promotion via the play offs and of course the small matter of the league title means he must be right up there, but adjusting for the resources at his disposal, means that in my view, he falls just short of the number one spot in this chart. High Point: May, 1995 naturally... 1. Don Mackay I did say at the outset that personal biases would come into play and Don Mackay made me fall in love with Rovers all over again after the relatively sterile years of the early/mid 1980’s, where my Rovers habit had been broken by attending university. I followed from a distance of course, but preferred playing to watching. However, once Don was in situ, The natural enthusiasm of the man was infectious. His belief spread throughout the club and in time, the town. There was something uniquely appealing about Don and the teams he assembled that won me over. Bargain signings seemed to gel almost immediately. Gradually, Rovers became attractive to watch and competitive. Glamour signings like Steve Archibald and Ossie Ardiles demonstrated the newly-found ambition. Much like Howard Kendall a decade earlier, the handicap of a shoe-string budget (initially) was overcome and resulted in successive appearances in the play-offs, albeit leading to annual heartbreak of course. But, THAT day out at Wembley in the Full Members’ Cup means that the Don just edges it for me. A day I never thought I’d see, Rovers lifting a trophy and at Wembley...little did we know what was to come. Don Mackay was a guest on the BRFCS podcast and still speaks fondly of his time at the club, but his memories are tinged with sadness that he couldn't utilise the Walker finance in the way that his successor was able to. On this list, you're number one though Don. High Point: FMC, Wembley You may well have your own view on this topic, but one topic we presumably can all agree on... “Who is Rovers’ Greatest-Ever Caretaker Manager ?”.
  25. Birdy's kit promo Paul Ince's first press conference Steve Kean unironically talking about us signing Ronaldinho and Beckham

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