As Manchester United jet off to South Africa, and Liverpool prepared to take on Toronto, Blackburn took their first steps of preparation for a promotion campaign with a double-header against Fleetwood Town and Accrington Stanley at the Crown Ground.
Starting with the football the two games where like chalk and cheese – the first against Fleetwood was more of a chess match with tactics and slow build up dictating the pace of the game – the second against Accrington was played at a much higher tempo from the start with the team who made the most out of their few chances likely to take the win. Blackburn won one and lost one. Interestingly it was the marathon match which Blackburn won, and the sprint which they lost, albeit due to the slippery hands of Paul Robinson.
Robinson was definitely the villain as a simple header slipped through his hands and left im diving across his goal line in true Rob Green fashion. This came, however, after the second half was late kicking off due to Robinson signing autographs for both sets of fans behind the goal. He followed this with playful banter with the crowd, and a display of affection for the club and its supporters, which will most likely mean his mistake will quickly be forgotten if stays true to his actions of pointing to the badge indicating he will go nowhere this summer.
Of the two games, the first won by goals from Formica and Nuno Gomes, two players stood out as definite prospects for the future. In the first game, Paulo Jorge, a Portuguese midfielder on trial from Porto, looked calm and unphased on the ball, and looked to want it at all times possible – something Blackburn lacked towards the end of last season. In the second game, young Anthony O’Connor showed signs of a composed centre back who was good in the air, read the game and looked composed on the ball. Also worth a mention is new old boy Danny Murphy – for his entire time on the pitch he didn’t often leave the middle third – taking the ball from the goalkeeper and defence and linking this with the midfield and the attack – it would be interesting to see how he would have fit in to an Allardyce team. These ball composed ball players will be key for Blackburn this year as there is no big traditional centre forward to win the long balls, as evidenced by Goodwillie, who will be a fine goalscorer when accompanied by a mate but is relatively impotent up front on his own.
To the hostilities – with new signings, trialists and youngsters on the pitch, the crowd continued its tirade against Kean. From nearly the first minute of the first game the chanting for Steve Kean to be axed started. It was interesting that in the second game, the crowd seemed for interesting in cheering for the team and in particular Robinson, until the goal went in, and almost instantly the chanting turned to Kean on the bench. It is almost a convenient excuse now for some fans – it was a poor game, but a goal which came from a mistake by the former national keeper was seemingly all Steve Kean’s fault. What is even more interesting is how the team will play next year – the above scenario indicates that the fans believe the blame all lies at Kean’s feet no matter how the team plays – surely this means the team can play without fear? There are rumours that many supporters will stay away from Ewood next year and only go to the away games in protest – this could mean that the ‘boo-boys’ will not be present at Ewood, and their will be less pressure on the manager and team. But then how will the atmosphere be at away games? Will they put their love of the team/club ahead of their hate for Kean and Venkys and get behind the team? Or will they use it as a further opportunity to voice the opinion of the manager, the owners and the running of the club?
I don’t agree with Kean still being at the helm, and I can’t say I am overly optimistic about the owners and the running of the club. However, to be so volatile towards a manager in a pre-season is out-of-order (after the final whistle in the second game, the team were booed off) – particularly with so many trialists, youngsters and new signings – how does that portray the club and atmosphere they will have to play if they decide to sign? These are the players we are looking to to get us get promotion – lets not scare them off before they get here.
It appears that once again Mr Kean and the Venkys are going nowhere, no matter what hatred and protesting is deployed. From my view, there is no way that Kean can turn the supporters around, I don’t believe even promotion will change people’s views. But in saying this, history tells you that a team who is being booed and their manager jeered is not going to mount any form of promotion attempt let alone achieve promotion. I don’t know what the solution is other than Kean to be removed from his position, but it doesn’t look as though that is going to happen. In the meantime, while we hope and pray, the supporters need to get behind the team, forget there is a clown at the helm, and cheer the team, which will consist of a number of youngsters, on in the direction of promotion.