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Found 67 results

  1. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column Feelgood Factor Soon Fades Away Well that didn’t last long did it? Any residual goodwill after the late, late show at Ewood last week soon dissipated and you might say “normal service” was resumed at Elland Road. This was always going to be a tough fixture but the reality of Saturday’s display demonstrated that whilst Leeds Utd are technically, extremely competent and well-drilled they are by no means unassailable, it's just that Rovers failed to prove the point. I first set foot in Elland Road as a small boy when, on the way home after a Sunday afternoon trip out to Knaresborough, York or somewhere roundabouts, we stopped off at the ground on the off chance that we might possibly be able to go in and take a peek. It was a fetish of mine back then and in truth still is; I love looking at empty football grounds. Even more so if you can sneak in to look behind the scenes. I once had the great fortune to work in an office block overlooking Benfica’s Estadio da Luz and struggled to concentrate if I sat next to the window. Holidays with me are also an absolute blast when I see a floodlight pylon or a cantilevered stand in the distance. Unimaginable today, but a gate was open, some routine maintenance was taking place and I could wander onto the actual turf that saw the likes of Bremner, Giles, Lorimer, Gray and Charlton J. perform every fortnight on their way to Championship and FA Cup successes. From that moment on, I took close interest in the fortunes of Leeds United, lured in further by that glorious Admiral away strip which launched the modern era of replica kit manufacture and marketing. All yellow with white & blue stripes and the infamous “smiley” badge. I loved it, but despite repeatedly dropping hints, it was never to be mine. I would steam up the windows of Gibsons, David Lloyd Sports and EJ Riley each in turn when out and about in Accrington, pointing and insisting on its suitability as a Christmas or birthday present. As an aside, there were three (count ‘em..!) mainstream sports shops in Accrington in those days; all selling actual sports equipment and kit; bats, rackets, spare studs even jockstraps - not knock off jeans, tea mugs and enormous “bags for life”. That’s possibly worthy of a column in its own right. Leave that thought with me... Back to Saturday, Rovers started reasonably brightly in fairness. They looked comfortable but the passing accuracy was awry all too often and the speed at which the ball was shifted from back to front was too slow even to threaten to cause Leeds any real damage. Lots of froth and bubble but little substance nor cutting edge. Leeds by contrast were the epitome of ruthless efficiency, the first two shots on target that Rovers allowed, delivered their opponents a two-nil lead. One characteristic that we have in common with Manchester City this past weekend. The opener coming from the penalty spot was certainly “soft” but despite many protestations on the terraces and social media, by the letter of the laws, it was awarded correctly. My benchmark for these sorts of decisions is; “Would I expect it to be awarded to us if the roles were reversed?” and had it been Gallagher blocked off in that manner by a Leeds defender, then yes, I would have expected to receive a penalty kick. Adarabioyo's challenge was clumsy, though undertaken with no malice intended, he looked rather like a man trying to shoo away a wasp at a picnic with his foot in order to protect his sandwiches. With Adarabioyo missing the ball completely, Ayling took advantage of the situation, emphasising the contact and falling dramatically in instalments to ensure that the referee had spotted the infringement. In fairness, the second Leeds goal was a thing of beauty and demonstrated the influence of Bielsa on this side. Rovers lose possession from their own throw-in near the half way line, Leeds sweep the ball back to their keeper, from left to right and back again. Phillips emerges centrally just outside his own penalty area and strides forward, unchallenged for the length of half the pitch. A long ball into the area is controlled with balletic grace by Bamford and laid on a plate for Harrison to curl one into the bottom corner. Eleven passes with nothing approximating pressure on the ball from Rovers until Bamford became involved. Had Rovers scored it, the away fans would possibly still be celebrating now. Two nil and fears of an impending mauling rise. Rovers raced into a two-goal lead at Deepdale of course only to see it drift away like the scent of a Hollands Pie in the breeze; would Leeds fall victim similarly? A corner saw Derek Williams meet the cross with a bullet header and so just before half-time, Rovers were very much back in the game. The second half sadly just seemed to peter out. The anxiety felt by Leeds players and their fans grew as the clock ticked but frankly, it’s hard to recall anything remotely resembling a clear-cut chance for Rovers in that 2nd half. Tony Mowbray once more threw on Danny Graham to try and make the ball stick up top. A few minutes later, John Buckley entered the fray as his wild card to try and make something unpredictable happen. “It worked against Wednesday, why not here?” seemed to be the logic. With his final substitution, rather than the erratic but often impactful Rothwell, Mowbray deployed Evans. A puzzling choice at the time. A baffling one with the benefit of mature reflection. In the aftermath, Mowbray chose to focus his ire (in public at least) on the award of the soft penalty. This was not entirely surprising although somewhat dispiriting, predictable and already this season, tediously repetitive. A solitary attempt on target across 90 minutes, all that Rovers were able to create is most definitely not the fault of the match officials. The failings of this squad are starting to accumulate. Talk of the play-offs has moved from being optimistic/ambitious to fanciful/ludicrous and in reality, the league table these days is studied from the bottom up. There’s a long way to go, but moving into another international break on the back of another defeat was the last thing this increasingly beleaguered team needed. Anyhow, back to those old sports shops in Accrington...
  2. No lessons learned. No possession football. No plan B. No Joe Rothwell. No defence. No defenders signed. No method. No Ryan Nyambe. No positivity. No progress. No idea. You're a nice bloke, you've done a good job but this is as far you will take us. Don't ruin your legacy, do the right thing and step aside. Charlton are relegation fodder so what does that make us? Go.
  3. philipl

    Lancashire Telegraph

    https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/sport/football/rovers/news/17664143.what-we-can-learn-from-the-stats-around-rovers-right-back/ The discussion about the right back position is on the appropriate thread but just a shout out for Rich Sharpe and the LT. This sort of analysis article is exactly the sort of quality journalism that keeps local papers alive. I find myself clicking onto the LT for news and views about Rovers increasingly. Great stuff- long may it continue.
  4. Birdy's kit promo Paul Ince's first press conference Steve Kean unironically talking about us signing Ronaldinho and Beckham
  5. Alejandro Tapia

    144 Years

    144 years a go the most beautiful football team...as a forgein supporter has to be impossible to say something that you doesn't know yet about our team but let me try... 144 years of a team that always has the special task to not only plays football but do it well thinking on people ho pays the ticket 144 years representing full of proud one of the most beautifull, traditional, and important countys...Lancashire...a place that has been forgotten like almoust the north a place that has much more to offer that people even imagine and Rovers always will represent the North. A team that changed my life in any aspects... thru football I knew and fell in love of England and your culture and values... a contry that now i respect and love just like mine. 144 years of glory and a present that yes wpuld be a shadow on our history but pals Blackburn Rovers has survived it doesen't matter why...since I'm a Rovers l hear a lot people sayung that we are lost that we are doomed etc...the only true is that we still here Why? Because of you and me becausewe know that to be a supporter it's not about trophys is not about economic success...Blackburn Rovers is about to pasion is about to love and defend your ground... 144 and I don't have nothing more to say but cheers to everybody ho supports my Blackburn it doesen't matter where. #Rovers #ImRoversTillIDie #Roversince2001 #TheMexicanRover
  6. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column Adarabioyo Rises To The Challenge The fireworks were scheduled for 5:10pm but in reality, they started closer to 4:50pm when Wednesday substitute Jacob Murphy nodded home from close range and set off delirious celebrations in the upper tier of the Darwen End, just the upper tier note. I struggle to think of any circumstances under which asking £40 plus to watch a Championship fixture is justifiable, clearly several thousand Wednesday fans thought similarly. It was set up by former Claret Steven Fletcher, a nuisance for Rovers all afternoon, beating Walton to a near-post cross but only able to deflect it onto the bar, Murphy finished the job from a metre out. At that precise moment, any hopes that Rovers had for resurrection of their season seemed fit only to top one of the bonfires planned for later on Saturday night. It had been a dispiriting week, the Preston result forcing even Tony Mowbray’s staunchest admirers to reassess just what the future might hold. Another relegation would surely be cataclysmic for a club still coming to terms with its post-Premier League fate. Twenty years ago, almost to the day, Jack Walker lost patience with Brian Kidd following a seven-game winless run and the speculation was mounting that Mowbray might soon meet a similar fate. However, structures seem more stable around Ewood Park these days, with knee-jerk reactions much less likely; but for all that, a win would help to dowse the bonfire of criticism aimed at Mowbray. Pre-season expectations varied significantly across the fanbase, some expecting play-off contention, some content with modest improvement but hardly anyone predicted a relegation battle. In a week where Netflix announced that they had been trialling software to allow viewers to watch films at 1.5x speed, the first half at Ewood had you longing for such a gadget for use in real-life. Reducing the “spectacle” to 30 minutes would have been a popular option such was the paucity of entertainment. The atmosphere in the ground was in parts of that first half, quieter than during the pre-match period of remembrance, sullied as it was by some unseemly noise emanating from the Darwen End. Charging those particular loons £40 for their tickets didn’t seem such bad idea at that point. Much like a jigsaw puzzle afficionado, Wednesday collected a series of corners but they failed to convert their pressure into clear chances and so praise must be handed out to Rovers latest defensive formation. Initially, it seemed to be a three when attacking, four when defending, but it soon settled down as a flat four with Williams wide left and the inexorable Bennett slotting in at right back. The stand-out performer in that first-half was the on-loan youngster Tosin Adarabioyo. His calmness in possession, desire to play it on the grass, to split the opponent’s lines with his passes and to treat possession of the football with the highest of respect marks him out as a player who has evidently received coaching of the highest quality. The half-time whistle was something of a relief, a chance to re-group and re-think and start anew in the second; for the fans as well for that matter. It was Garry Monk who blinked first, introducing Forestieri. Soon afterwards, the predictable reply from Rovers was to turn to Danny Graham, a man whose lustrous, bushy beard appears to signify a dearth of offers for razor sponsorship deals. Sam Gallagher suffered a knock but it might have been the preferred tactical change in any event. A Rovers attack with Graham at its fulcrum still looks the best option for Tony Mowbray; unless and until Sam Gallagher can reproduce that opening 25 minutes at Deepdale across 90 minutes and on a regular basis. With Joe Rothwell joining Graham a few minutes later and disrupting the midfield with his high intensity running and dribbling, the game finally sparked into life. Keiren Westwood in the Wednesday goal, himself no ally of Gillette it seems, demonstrated that goalkeepers mature with age like a fine port and two impressive saves from Travis and Rothwell in short order seemed to suggest that a goalless draw was to be the height of Rovers aspirations. The intervention of Fletcher & Murphy, sounding for all the world like the names of a brace of springer spaniel pups, seemed to have marked Rovers cards and the ground braced itself. Which is when Tony Mowbray threw on young John Buckley for the veteran Downing, presumably in the hope that his youthful endeavour could contrive a chance where Downing’s experience had been unable. Buckley entered the fray carrying a note which was passed to Adarabioyo. Much speculation ensued on social media as to the contents but frankly, even if it did say “Score two lads” as one wag on Twitter suggested, it did the trick. With just two minutes of regulation time remaining, Bennett flighted a delightful free kick into the box, Adarabioyo used his physical presence once more, this time as an attacking force and looped a lovely header over the previously invincible Westwood, ostensibly it appeared to save a point. Well surely that’s what most of us thought? Except for John Buckley... Three minutes later, more Rovers pressure resulted in Dack & Graham reforming their tried and tested partnership, a horrible slice by Börner left Danny Graham with time and space in the box to set up Rothwell. He wanted a touch too many and Börner seemed to have atoned by sliding in to clear the ball, but only to the feet of Buckley, who needed no second bidding to shoot and via a kindly deflection off the left leg of the hapless...yup, Börner again, wrong footed Westwood, to make it 2-1 and initiate delirious celebrations. Much has been made of Rovers recent inability to retrieve lost causes and/or score late goals; all too often being on the wrong end of astonishing comebacks (just last week for instance) but this was as welcoming as a potato pie supper, followed by parkin and treacle toffee; nourishing, warming, then ultimately sweet. Naturally, the remainder of stoppage time was still sufficient for the Owls to hit the post following a deflection from that man Adarabioyo again and Rovers needed a fine save from Walton to keep out the follow up. The impromptu on-field firework display was over, just the off-field ones to enjoy now. Crisis averted, at least temporarily; zero without a win. Leeds Utd away up next, if ever there was a place to stage another comeback in stoppage time...
  7. This might be an over reaction but we were so abysmal today it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility we’ll end up in a relegation fight. I was shocked how bad we were. It’s been said many times but the defence is so soft it makes blancmange look like a lump of concrete. Bennett Williams Bell and yes lenighan looked what they are which is league one defenders QPR are very average but we gifted them all 4 goals with defending straight out of Sunday league football. Their supporters who were expecting another defeat - they haven’t beaten us in any competition for 20 years - were actually laughing at us. It was that embarrassing We actually played well in patches in the 2nd half despite conceding 3 goals mainly because the statue that is Danny Graham had been withdrawn at half time. The team looked more fluid and Dack came into the game more. I like Danny but on that display he’s not worth a place As for Mowbray time is surely running out. The team looked demotivated and disinterested in the 1st half when QPR were surely there for the taking. And did my eyes deceive me but did Mowbray have Evans at centre half and Tosin at right back after Lenighan went off? What sort of muddled thinking is going on there? Sorry for the rant but the prospect of a 5 hour journey home and having spent the best part if £200 I’m sure not the only fan who feels severely cheesed off to put it politely. Well done to all those who made the trip. We deserve an apology from Mowbray
  8. smudgetones

    Thanks for the love!

    I’m so glad that I have been able to keep you in a state of apoplexy for a while. I admit that some weeks I use the old William Burroughs/David Bowie cut-up technique instead of purposely trying to annoy you. I was hopeful that by now you would realise that I don’t write for you. Obviously Ian runs this site and so he speaks for you. Delap writes for his demographic. I write for me. My opinion is not supposed to lay easy with you. I am not spoon feeding you what you want to read. No point. You know what YOU think. You then float it on here. i did not win a competition to write a column. I have done this for 20 years. I don’t share my column on Twitter or in the Rovers groups because I am not in this for likes and love. I change my mind just like everyone does and that is an asset I find. Please carry on the hate. It clearly makes you feel better and, since I have only just been nudged to this forum, it has had no impact on my world.
  9. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column Is This Is A Crisis...a Large Crisis ? It’s the crushing inevitability. The sense of foreboding that comes from fearing something going so well can’t possibly continue. The growing fear that fate is conspiring to snatch glory away from you in the cruellest possible way. However, England responded to the pressure, dug in at 13-7 and eventually added a further 6 points to record a handsome victory and book a place in the Rugby World Cup final, against the odds. A fast start, early scores, discipline, tenacity and team spirit all combining to make light of the fact that New Zealand had won 15 of the previous 16 encounters. Now, let’s do that “A Level” arts staple of the compare and contrast exercise shall we ? Deepdale, Saturday afternoon and a chastened Blackburn Rovers team facing a Preston team that they have failed to beat in any of the previous five meetings, comes out of the traps very much on the front foot, looking for all the world like a side re-born. Sam Gallagher is straining at the leash like an excitable Golden Retriever keen to chase squirrels in the park. Amari’i Bell is prowling down the left flank, probing for weaknesses, daring Preston players to even try and stop him. Adam Armstrong is the coiled spring, his raw pace a weapon to be unleashed on a Preston defence seemingly wearing leaden boots. Just a minute in, Gallagher scores or if you are a killjoy of epic proportions, Gallagher powers a header off the inside of the post, the diving Declan Rudd flails and the ball touches his shoulder on the way into the goal and it’s apparently therefore an own goal (it really isn’t...). Roughly four & a half thousand Rovers fans housed behind the goal at the opposite end celebrate wildly, irrespective of the designated scorer. The game continues in the same vein. Rovers are irresistible, attack after attack, Preston are much like the Led Zep classic, “Dazed and Confused”. Just ten minutes later, Gallagher strikes again, this time shaping a lovely left-footed curler inside the far post and on this occasion, he definitely has his first league goal of the season. Rovers are two ahead after just eleven minutes, on the “Stairway To Heaven” ? How do Rovers fans react ? Well, jubilation obviously, but thoughts drift, memories of Brentford in February seep into the conscience. It’s the crushing inevitability. After thirty minutes, Preston boss Alex Neil decides that enough is enough and he turns to his bench and deploys a six-foot, two-inch battering ram by the name of Jayden Stockley. A man with nine appearances and three goals on his CV whilst on loan at Accrington Stanley in 2011. The sacrificial lamb is former Rover and playmaker Paul Gallagher. The “Gallagher of the Match” award is to be Sam’s, not Paul’s. For the rest of the half, Rovers try to work out how to handle Stockley and Preston work out how best to use him. Rovers reach half-time largely unscathed with the two-goal lead intact. But Rovers fans just know. Nothing in life is achieved without a struggle, there has to be labore as well as arte. "Just keep it tight for 10-15 minutes at the start of the second half, put Adarabioyo on Stockley, sit a bit deeper, use Armstrong’s pace and Gallagher’s strength and a third breakaway goal seals the deal. Ten minutes, just keep it tight, because if we concede one, well that changes the dynamic". That’s the crushing inevitability, right there. Rovers managed just eight minutes before Christian Walton decided to perform the goalkeeping equivalent of an opening batsman; not sure where his stumps begin and end, shouldering arms, only to see the ball nip back late and hit off stump three quarters of the way up. As a pretty harmless and aimless cross drifted over to the back post, Walton allowed it to pass clean over his head to where Sean Maguire was standing. Maguire who probably couldn’t believe his luck, nodded it back to Barkhuizen, one down. “Good Times, Bad Times” is added to the "PNE Led Zep" playlist. At that moment, Rovers on-field presence seemed to evaporate. All the first half energy evidently dissipated as a result of just one fatal error by Walton. From that moment on, the momentum was flowing in one direction; away from the Rovers fans in the Shankly End towards Walton’s goal, Stockley the North End focal point. Elliott Bennett reprised his Huddersfield trick of conceding a clumsy penalty. Johnson took an eternity to take it but converted cleanly and Rovers’ lead had evaporated inside twenty minutes of the restart. From here on in, there was only one winner. Barkhuizen finally administered the mercy killing with a fine third with less than ten minutes to go and Rovers fans knew deep in their hearts that it was coming. You knew, I knew, we all knew, it’s the crushing inevitability. The pressure on Rovers boss Tony Mowbray is obviously growing with each successive slip up. That comes with the territory. But this time, this sequence feels a bit different somehow. The terrible run of February and March was eventually turned around and promises were issued that lessons had been learned and that defenders were coming. One of those mooted defenders played on Saturday, just not in a Rovers shirt. This time it has a whiff of the last days of Souness, a generally well-respected, well-liked manager in danger of tarnishing his legacy. If Middlesbrough sack Woodgate and come in for Mowbray the parallels will be adding up. That second half capitulation showed just how fragile the team’s confidence is currently. A relatively benign fixture list has yielded just two points from the last six games and now throws up matches at home against Sheffield Wednesday and away at Leeds United, two teams presently lording it in the top five. Tony Mowbray has to find a solution and quickly, or else the cries for his removal will grow yet louder. That too is a crushing inevitability. We are not yet quite at Captain Blackadder levels of crisis definition, “...a twelve-storey crisis with a magnificent entrance hall, carpeting throughout, 24-hour portage, and an enormous sign on the roof, saying 'This Is a Large Crisis'..” but that run of “winnable” games seems to be well and truly over. The key question now is "Does Tony have a Baldrick-style cunning plan ?" Six without a win.
  10. Stuart

    Mowbray Poll

    Several requests now so... based on the state of the squad, matches and overall confidence in Mowbray’s ability to take us forward.
  11. I saw Rich Sharpe point out a couple of interesting stats over the weekend, and after some digging found some of my own that show the "Character" of Rovers since Tony Mowbray took charge. Rovers haven't scored an injury time equaliser/winner in a league game since Fulham away in March 2017, the only other one in Mowbray's tenure is against Cardiff at Ewood in the same month We are yet to score an injury time winner in the league since Mowbray took charge (Last one being in February 2017, under Coyle, against QPR at Ewood) We haven't come from behind to win a game since April 2018 against Peterborough We have only come from behind to win a game in the league 3 times since Mowbray was appointed, Bristol Rovers home, Peterborough home & away in 17/18. In the 58 games since we came from behind to win a game, we have conceded the first goal 25 times, losing 19 of them. We haven't come from behind to win a game at this level since November 2016 which was under Coyle, against Brentford. The last time we conceded at Ewood park and won was New Years Day last season. Pretty damning stuff I would say, it generally means that if we go a goal behind, you might aswell go home as this lot aren't getting back into it. The signings of Cunningham, Downing and Johnson have no doubt helped the side to see games out when we are in front, but the lack of response when we go behind is really concerning and something that needs addressing if we are ever going to improve beyond a lower mid table side.
  12. MCMC1875

    Pricing at Ewood.

    Comments please
  13. Just wondered how many people actually think tomorrow might be the last day we have to put up with Tony's nonsense?
  14. Wegerleswiggle

    If Tony goes...

    Just wanted to get a general feel for people's opinions. I know there will be lots of varying answers but what do you think would be the best route for Rovers to take..
  15. Stuart

    Captain Material

    Mowbray seems to have fallen into the trap that Coyle did: making the decision to give the captaincy to the longest serving player, despite him not being first choice in his natural position. Ironically both Lowe and Bennett were centre midfielders who were turned into full backs just to keep the in the starting eleven. This meant having to drop other players or move others around, made us weaker and, in my opinion, meant having a poor player as an ever present. For me, the arm band should be given to the player who is the best for the job but also a mainstay through merit, not by default. Personally I think they should be a vocal leader but I’m not sure we have many of those. Who would your captain be?
  16. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column Rovers Struggle To Find A Winning Formula It’s somewhat disconcerting to have your Saturday timetable re-arranged at short notice, but sometimes pressing needs mean that sacrifices have to be made for the greater good. All in all, I’m sure Tim Farron would much rather have been at Ewood on Saturday lunchtime than ensconced in Westminster. What with the breakfast coverage of Rugby World Cup and Rovers lunchtime appointment on Sky, it seemed that Saturday’s sporting timetable had been designed by Jeff Stelling in a cunning ruse to boost Soccer Saturday ratings. These days, Rovers appearances on Sky are somewhat infrequent so it was perplexing to read the paradoxical quotes attributed to Rovers marketing head Greg Coar. He implied that a full ground makes for a more compelling TV attraction and went on to add “a better visual spectacle is more likely to make us chosen for television again”. Notwithstanding this, the policy of tucking away fans into the top tier of the Darwen End with its consequential impact upon atmosphere continues. The rationale apparently, being that there are marginal gains to be had from the opposition not being motivated by the close proximity of their fans, nor will the referee be influenced by claims from a vocal away support. It does however strike this correspondent as “a bit petty” to be honest and seems to discount the possibility that our own players might conceivably be motivated by a hostile away section. Imagine David Speedie and Alan Shearer being cowed by a noisy Darwen End full of away fans ? No, neither can I. Anyhow, at the end of a traumatic international week which demonstrated the ugly side of football support, it was nice to return to more familiar domestic matters and with a home fixture against struggling Huddersfield, a three-point return was a distinct possibility. Except, that really should read “formerly struggling Huddersfield” as they are currently the beneficiaries of that football staple, the new manager bounce. Since appointing the Cowleys, two defeats were swiftly followed by a draw and then reinvigorating back to back wins. Mowbray was hampered by the loss of Lenihan, Cunningham and Bell through injuries of varying severity, resulting in a back four that accommodated Elliott Bennett at left back. The opening goal was a direct result of that selection as Bennett was adjudged to have fouled the tricky Diakhaby resulting in a penalty. I use the term adjudged advisedly, as whilst there was indeed “contact”, if this degree of contact in real life resulted in regular human beings falling over, then the post office queues on pension day would resemble a battlefield. Rovers recovered well from the setback with Dack seemingly finding a kindred spirit in Lewis Holtby and their burgeoning partnership was a particularly encouraging bright spot. The equaliser coming from a sloppy Elphick mistake as the Terriers tried to play out from the back only for Rovers to pinch possession, Dack’s vision setting up Holtby in front of an open goal. Holtby then reciprocated by teeing up the ball much like a willing caddy, almost obliging Dack to shape a nine iron into the bottom corner. It was a lovely move and exemplified the passing style that Mowbray is evidently championing. The second half however, saw Danny Cowley exercise his tactical acumen, introducing the exciting Dutch midfielder Juninho Bacuna and asking questions of Rovers defence that like an ill-prepared Mastermind contestant, they increasingly struggled to answer. Rovers had lost the momentum, the draw probably reflecting the balance of play across the ninety minutes. Once again, Rovers fail to win at home, once more Rovers run out of creativity; less “Fortress Ewood” these days, more “Drive-Thru Ewood” – turn up, place your order, enjoy your happy meal, shakes all round. Four without a win. A chance for early redemption presented itself on Tuesday with a visit to St Andrews, a ground that when I lived in Birmingham didn’t even feature in my “Top Three Grounds in Birmingham Welcoming to Away Fans”. It’s not been a happy hunting ground of late; one league win in the last twelve visits suggested a downbeat evening might be on the cards, the performance on the pitch sadly rather confirmed it. Whatever “hap” Rovers might have had, it has certainly disappeared. Rovers seem to be toothless in attack away from home, bereft of confidence and poor old Sam Gallagher really does look like a striker without a league goal since January 2018. It was only the introduction of Danny Graham that briefly suggested the potential for some form of redemption but it wasn’t to be. The best chance in the last quarter falling to City’s Jutkiewicz, whose strike from distance hit the underside of the bar but was ruled not to have crossed the line. Almost inevitably, the murmurs of discontent amongst some Rovers fans are slowly gathering momentum and volume; much as they did in February and March, with regular expressions of dissatisfaction with Tony Mowbray’s tactics and formations across social media. Results of late have been at best disappointing, performances have shown only fleeting promise. There seem to be some fundamental problems right now that need to be fixed. The biggest and perhaps most justified criticism of Mowbray however, is possibly his record of spending big money on strikers. If indeed the signings of Brereton and Gallagher were at his behest, the jury is being presented with overwhelming evidence for the prosecution. At a time when the team boasts a loan keeper behind an injury-ravaged, leaky defence; if you spend £12m on two strikers, then they really need to score some goals. To top off the dispiriting run of recent results, next up is a visit to Deepdale; the scene of last season’s winner of the “Most Spineless Capitulation Away From Ewood” award (in amongst it has to be said, some stiff competition from Bristol City, Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and Sheffield Utd). What better place to return this season to the right side of the tracks? Preston enter this derby on the back of a defeat at Reading but a creditable midweek draw with Sky Sports in-house club, Leeds Utd. That Reading result serves to illustrate that on any given day, in this league, any result is eminently possible. If anything should give Rovers some encouragement, then perhaps this is it, because the same cannot currently be said for the on-pitch performances. Five without a win.
  17. Stuart

    Club Ambition

    I’m going to start by say that imo there’s no way we are getting promoted under Mowbray - someone convince me otherwise. Nothing about what he has done in the last 18 months makes me thing he will. So, what are our ambitions for this season? If it’s another season of stability then it’s a waste (including the money wasted on duds) and makes no sense against a backdrop of ever increasing debt. If it is to get into the play-offs then we are getting further away after each passing game.
  18. 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 ?”.
  19. Right so I just want to quickly talk about Damien Johnson. The most qualified (in a literal sense) member of staff at the football club. Damien Johnson created an ethos during his tenure as manager of the Under 23's, and during the rest of his work with all teams throughout his time at the club. Johnson has been pivotal in introducing the new learning culture within the first team set up, the new technological advances I would say are a direct result of his impact since stepping into the first team picture. Damien has two underlings (Data Analysts) who he works with personally on a day to day basis, which has come into major effect from this season, and it is Johnson who has been instrumental in the touch screen implementation at Brockhall, analysing games and player performance and going over it with the players. The bloke has spent most of his career dedicating his time and efforts to this club in MANY capacities and I have absolutely no doubt that one day he'll manage at a top top level. He joined this club as manager of the Under 14's, and the achievements directly caused by his impact since are astounding to me. For me, if TM really does end up going any time soon, there is no better replacement, there's nobody who's got the experience at this club, the freshness to give it a good go and most importantly the respect of the fans, players and staff already at the club. Others may disagree and that's fine, but I just wanted to lay that out there. Johnson has worked wonders with the 23's. Not just the promotion from the PL2(2) but also his amazing season with that team last year getting the lads into the Champions League of youth football. Mark Hughes, Chris Hughton, Tony Pulis... meh - tried, tested? Sure. But for me, we've got a chance to try something new. Think Eddie Howe, even in some ways Gary Bowyer (hopefully not in the mediocrity way though!).
  20. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column Rangers Revelry Means Rovers Regress At a family Christmas gathering in the early 90’s, doubtless over a mince pie, I found myself deep in conversation with my maths teacher uncle, discussing various mathematical concepts, including “regression to the mean”; doesn’t everyone after all? The context being that as a Burnley fan, he was keen to point out that Rovers were, at that point (1993/4), serially over-performing and nature being nature, eventually Rovers would drift back towards their mean performance level. In his view, charitably this was mid-table second division at best but more likely, third division and so he recommended that I enjoy the ride as it wouldn’t last – not a biased opinion, merely mathematical modelling he assured me ! As the conversation unfolded, I recall using the example of QPR as a club that could be a template for Rovers in the long term. They’d had moments of fleeting glory, winning the League Cup in 1967 as a third division team and pushing the all-conquering Liverpool side of the mid-70’s all the way to the final round of matches in the Championship race, before eventually finishing as league runners-up in 1976. An attractive blue & white kit, a neat & tidy stadium generating a lively atmosphere, a history of flair players including the likes of Rodney Marsh, Stan Bowles, Dave Thomas, Gerry Francis, Trevor Sinclair and Les Ferdinand plus of course former Rovers like Mike Ferguson and Simon Barker – there are worse role models I argued. Sadly, my uncle’s grasp on statistical outliers combined with the cyclical nature of sporting achievement meant that in the long term he was proven correct, but that said, I feel sure he would give up Dyche’s recent achievements for just one Claret league title, even if it was 25 years ago. Since the 1990’s, Rangers like Rovers, have moved between divisions, they have won the second-tier title, won a Wembley play-off final and had Mark Hughes as manager, the parallels go on. Saturday morning social media provided the kiss of death though as various Tweets highlighted that Rangers hadn’t beaten Rovers at what was then called Loftus Road since 1993. I was there that day and so was Tim Flowers as he made his debut; a scrappy Les Ferdinand goal deflected via Colin Hendry, saw Rangers win 1-0. The sense of inevitability that this run would come to an end was now palpable; possibly matched only by those Match of the Day highlights that show a player receiving an innocuous, early yellow card...you just know that red card is going to follow. That or the classic Star Trek meme when a previously unknown science officer in a red shirt is beamed down with Kirk, Spock & McCoy – inevitably doomed. Statistical probability can only be defied for so long...regression to the mean remember ? The performance on Saturday was essentially supine. A low key opening from both sides saw the ball moved slowly, inaccurately, with little purpose but Rovers initially at least were very much in it; albeit without ever giving the impression that each player had learned his lines properly and was sure of his mark. Hampered by the loss of Cunningham, substitute Bell couldn't deal with a cross and Burnley’s loanee Nakhi Wells scored for Rangers. Williams failed to clear early in the second half, two-nil and in all honesty that was that. No way back for raggedy Rovers from here. Tony Mowbray has much credit in the bank in this correspondent’s view but notwithstanding this, the evidence of recent weeks suggests that Mowbray still has not settled upon a preferred formation or a team selection. The amount of tweaking to personnel and tactics seen so far this season suggests that games are still being treated as experiments in a live environment, pre-season practice games seemingly failing to identify a definitive solution. Gallagher is in, but out of position, then in and in position, then out altogether. Ben Brereton can only watch from his convalescence and nod in acknowledgement and perhaps sympathy. We are trying to wean ourselves off our Danny Graham dependency, but like hungry schoolkids in a sweet shop, it’s far too easy to have just one more sugar rush and hang the consequences; so he’s back in after being out. Rothwell is in and out like an ill-judged hokey-cokey at a silver wedding do. The signing of Holtby means Evans, Travis, Johnson and Downing know one of them has to be out for him to be in. Now if you achieve some decent results, it’s “effective squad rotation” or “healthy competition”, but if you don’t, it’s “managerial uncertainty” or even worse incompetence. Rovers’ performance on Saturday was lame, disjointed, half-hearted and one-paced; as grey and unattractive as that away kit, despite what Jack Pitt-Brooke of “The Athletic” might have Tweeted. Fragile at the back, lacking guile and creativity in midfield and largely toothless up front. The only consolation being that QPR’s defence had its own lax moments and somehow gifted Rovers two goals, lending the final scoreline a veneer of respectability the performance scarcely deserved. Rangers main instruments of torment were the midfielders Eze and Chair; for all the pressure they were subjected to, they might as well have been dictating play from actual easy chairs; slippers on, resting on a footstool. Chair was eventually substituted after 72 minutes, perhaps he didn’t have the legs for 90 minutes? He was replaced from the bench by Pugh – the sedentary puns merely cushioning the feeling of disappointment. Just two short weeks ago, I speculated as to the possibility of back to back wins becoming four in a row, making a bold statement that would make the rest of the division sit up and take notice. Well, football has a way of making us all look daft from time to time and the last fortnight has reminded us that promotion from this most challenging of divisions requires fortitude, skill and determination on a scale that right now appears to be elusive. International weeks sometimes interrupt good runs causing momentum to be lost; this one has arrived just in time to allow a serious Rovers rethink, hopefully to avoid further regression. Let us hope this time is used wisely.
  21. Old Blackburnian is on holiday this week - normal (?) service resumes next week but here is a preview of the upcoming QPR game written for the lovely people @LoftForWords Last season looked par for the course as a newly promoted team, what did you make of it? Well initially we over-delivered, turning in some pretty good performances “early doors” as Big Ron would say and that inevitably raised expectations. A period of looking at the league table “above the fold” meant that calculations of how many more wins were needed to reach the play offs reached their apotheosis after 10 minutes away at Brentford in early February when we had raced into a two-goal lead and frankly, besting the Championship at that precise point looked a mere formality. However, eighty-odd minutes later, Brentford’s five goals without reply had given both the team and the fans a chastening dose of harsh reality and forced an urgent reappraisal. Those cancellable bookings for the play-off final hotels looked a tad optimistic. Our season then collapsed like the post-referendum pound and soon we were very much “below the fold” and wondering if the sting in the tale was to be a relegation, whence we came A late-season recovery, aided and abetted by three points at Loftus Road (thanks once again...) ended with a fifteenth place finish, which I would have happily signed up to back in August 2018. All in all, “Tony ultimately came through, but at times his concentration wandered and his performance dipped. B+, could do better”. What business was done over the summer and was the squad stronger or weaker by the end? We lost keeper David Raya to the aforementioned Brentford fairly early on in the window, defender Paul Downing had been effectively released in January, flat-track bully Jack Rodwell fell down a crack in the space/time continuum, from which he is yet to emerge, much-loved, stalwart winger and part-time barber Craig Conway was freed and Ben Gladwin...yes him...also departed Ewood; his most memorable contribution being missing a sitter at home to Plymouth in the promotion season and never being seen again. Inbound moves saw Christian Walton come in on loan from Brighton to replace Raya, Stewart Downing came in to maintain the Rovers “Downing quota” at a solid one and ensure Mowbray was surrounded by a Teesside burr as often as possible. Bradley Johnson joined from Derby on a free to increase our “Bradley” quota to two, but the big money signing of the summer brought back Sam Gallagher; a previous loanee, to add options to our attack and reduce our dependency on the ageing or is that “ageless” Danny Graham. Overall, you would have to say stronger but perhaps not in the areas most needed (the defence Tony...the bloody defence...) and not by a sufficient margin to really excite the fans. How would you assess your start to the season, results are all over the map really? Rovers are absolutely determined to be consistent in their inconsistency. We must be an archetypal Cup team as on our day, we are capable of beating anyone or being beaten by anyone. We are currently mid-table, I expect us to finish mid-table, but the route we choose to arrive at that destination will be circuitous I suspect and not without its moments of triumph and disaster, which will not be treated both the same. Tony Mowbray presumably has credit in the bank from the promotion still, but how’s he doing? In my eyes, yes. He’s a decent man doing a decent job with what he has available to him. I struggle to see him ever taking us back to the Premier League in all honesty, but equally, we are a lot more organised and competitive than under all of his predecessors back to Allardyce. Solid, unspectacular, faithful, generally likeable; much like a Teesside Labrador really. Stand out players and weak links in the side? It used to be all about Bradley Dack but he’s found it to be tougher going in recent months as opponents have latched onto his threat and largely nullified it. It used to be Danny Graham but having spent £5m on Gallagher, Mowbray has to try and find a niche for his new signing and Graham has often been sacrificed. The recent addition of Lewis Holtby is an intriguing one, he could just turn out to be a master stroke. Another Lewis, namely Travis of this parish is probably the next player to leave for a pastures new for a large fee. Liverpool let him go, they may just regret that. He oozes potential. Weak links ? The defence, especially after a couple of clean sheets when they think they’ve cracked it. Is Ben Brereton being written off despite the outlay? Precious little return so far… He’s injured. When he’s not injured he’s played out of position. When he plays out of position he looks lost. Frankly, when he plays in a Rovers shirt at all he looks lost. I feel sorry for the kid, the fee isn’t his fault but the sooner we all recognise that it’s £7m that simply needs to be written off “for tax purposes”, the better we will all feel about it and as such, we can then all move on. He seems highly unlikely to ever be a regular first teamer at Rovers let alone goal scorer and Mowbray’s use of the cheque book with Brereton and Gallagher especially may well ultimately define his reign. These two signings are presently under-performing luxuries we simply cannot afford. The ghosts of Kevin Davies and Ciccio Grabbi appear to haunt Ewood to this very day. Another big money signing this summer in Sam Gallagher, who you’ve had before of course, how’s that gone? Well as per Brereton above, when Mowbray has been given the password for the club internet banking account, it doesn’t seem to end well. Gallagher did a job for us originally, when on loan, albeit without ever ripping up any trees and frankly, doesn’t seem to have progressed all that much since we last had him. We can’t afford to splash the cash very often these days and on the two recent occasions where we have, we appear to have been scammed by the Championship equivalents of those “Nigerian princes” offering untold wealth for “a small administration fee” and access to your current account. Mowbray henceforth should only be allowed to sign players costing £750k or less based on the Dack precedent! What are the ambitions for this season and have they changed since the summer? The more realistic/pragmatic/pessimistic* delete as appropriate, Rovers supporter would say consolidate, improve a few places on last season, have a cup run perhaps...all good. The more ardent Rovers supporter, of which we have a few, proclaimed the signings of Gallagher, Downing and Johnson to be the combination to unlock promotion...not really feasible IMHO. Progress is the watchword. Finishing at least say, three places higher than last season would be a solid (if unspectacular) season. Anything more than that would be a handy bonus. Finishing lower than last season would be hugely disappointing. This squad has potential but no matter how many we sign, we always seem to be two short. Was it ever thus ?
  22. 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
  23. For me personally it's very hard to see past another Season of mid-table stability unless major additions to the squad are made.I want to see improvement on all fronts but our stock has dropped so much under the Venkys tenure that we face an up hill battle from now on. Have the impression we are just happy to bumble along and that is the vibe I'm getting from Mowbray...'middle of the food chain' in this league I feel frustrated at times that our owners don't appear to be willing to express their plans/expectations of what they require from Mowbray and the Squad....do they actually have a plan? is it more a case of Que serra serra? how do we move forward without positive direction from the very top? We are not presently equipped as a club to make the move up all Rovers fans desire,Promotion does not appear on the Radar for some reason...we are potentially looking at decades of stagnation.
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