Monthly Archives: September 2012

Rock the boat, don’t rock the boat

When I first started penning the ideas for this blog edition, I was of the thinking that: top of the league, unbeaten and free scoring – what would be the point of sacking a manager and potentially causing unrest in the camp?

My argument for keeping Steve Kean was that the signings he had brought in seemed to have worked and done the business firing us to the top of the pile. Although the performances hadn’t been great, we had got the points on the board, and more than likely, the performances would improve over time. Sacking the manager could have been the catalyst for a downturn in form. And, it looked as though bullet-proof Kean was going to make it to Shebby’s 16 point target with a point to spare.

Then came Middlesbrough at home, live on Sky. Boro, a team who had yet to pick up a point on the road, and who hadn’t been ripping up any trees.

As always happens, Blackburn got beat in front of the nation – a nation who have in recent weeks been questioning the fact that Rovers fans want the manager sacked, even though they are top of the league and unbeaten.

The performance was dyer. As has been seen at times this season, we failed to find a blue and white shirt with likely over 60% of passes – the main culprit being Danny Murphy. He has been such a disappointment since donning the blue and white halves. His passing has been clumsy, he always wants to much time on the ball, which suggests he hasn’t yet adapted to the speed of the Championship, his refusal to undertake any sort of defensive duty when we lose the ball, and his persistence at taking quick half a yard free kicks when we have a chance to get a ball in the box is just down-right  frustrating. His performances this year were summed up by his attempt to take the ball around a Boro player, only to lose the race as soon as he set off. In my opinion, the game was crying out for someone who could pick up the ball in midfield and drive with it, perhaps a David Dunn-type player. Murphy is fast becoming a new Keith Andrews figure for the fans, and his constant pointing on the field does nothing to help this – it would be difficult to see how he could avoid dropping him for the Charlton game next week – but then, as he has a habit of doing, Kean has made a rod for his own back by making him club captain, and in doing so, possibly un-droppable.

The 5-0 win by Barnsley yesterday against Birmingham could so easily have happened at Ewood last Tuesday, but luckily their strikers has left their scoring boots for yesterday. Although on the flip side, one wonders, had Barnsley beaten us 5-0 midweek, would Kean still be in the job now?

While we are still second in the league, and have by no means made a bad start, the question remains for us Blackburn fans – do we want rid of Kean more than we want the team to succeed and gain promotion? At what point do the fans say: “okay, he’s doing ok, we’re in the hunt for promotion, let’s get behind the team”, instead of hoping he and the team fail so we can get rid of him?

Many believe Kean to be unsackable, and maybe his inability to achieve the points total may be another indicator of this. But in allowing £8m to be spent on Jordan Rhodes, I think the owners, as business people, will expect a return of Promotion as a minimum – if this isn’t achieved, and Kean remains in a job, he truly is unsackable.

A true test of his and the teams character, and his ability to manage, is how he picks the team up and gets them back to winning ways – two consecutive away trips to Charlton and Nottingham Forest are not easy places to do this.

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Deadline Dealings

It is the day most managers hate, or at least those managers managing seemingly over-performing players; it is a day many in the game say should be scrapped; a day many say throws all financial sense out of the window; it is of course, Transfer Deadline Day.

Usually this day is one of my favourite of the season, trying to fathom out who is going where; what surprises are going to be sprung, and who ‘Arry is going to pull out of a hat – but these year, sat on the sofa, beers chilled in the fridge, the deadline day excitement with Jim White behind the counter and Bryan Swanson behind the giant iPad-like device just never got to the heights of previous seasons. Maybe this was because my team was not really involved (other than the snippets regarding N’Zonzi joining Stoke and David Goodwillie joining Palace – being in the Championship really is like being a second class citizen!); or maybe it was the lack of any rumours around big signings and shock signings; or maybe, and possibly more true, there was no Harry Redknapp being interviewed at the Tottenham training ground gates.

Either way, business was still done on deadline, and although the true value of this business cannot be measured until way into the season, I believe there was some very good business and some very bad business, much of which involved a small group of clubs.

Firstly, Liverpool. What a disaster. Why allow Andy Carroll to go out on loan, without the option of recalling him at anytime? Particularly when you have not yet brought another striker in. I think Rodgers put himself in a corner earlier in the window saying that he could leave, and then with many predicting that by playing Carroll the Swanselona style could not be adopted, he saw it as an opportunity to stamp his authority on the club – how wrong he may have been. Liverpool didn’t bring anybody else in – why you would not pay £6-7m for Clint Dempsey is beyond me (they paid £20m for Jordan Henderson!), leaving them stranded with Borini and Suarez up-front – and now also having missed out on Owen returning to the club and the chance of bringing Del Piero to the Premiership. Rodgers can recall Carroll in January, but the way things look, it won’t be him making the decision to recall him. I think Carroll to West Ham and Allardyce is a match made in heaven – long ball to big man who wins the flicks and knock downs – a tactic which has already paid dividends. However happy the West Ham fans may be with the start they have made, it only takes one or two defeats for Big Sam to go back to what he knows and lump the ball at every opportunity – I was a Rovers fan who denied that we were playing hoof-ball football until it was too late, and every game we were hoping for a free-kick/corner/throw-in – to this day I maintain that getting rid of Allardyce was still a good move, the football is better, and if in the long run it means we get relegated for one/two years but then come back up, it will have been worth it to improve the standard of football.

Fulham have made some changes this summer with previously key players moving on  – of them I think Dembele will be the biggest loss. I think I read a couple of years ago that during the season he had been statistically better than Messi. Dempsey was a man who obviously wanted to move on and there is no point in keeping an unhappy player, as long as he hasn’t recently signed a new contract! I don’t think Dempsey will be a success at Spurs, I think he is one of those players that does well and gets noticed as they are a big fish in a small pond. In terms of good business, I think replacing Dempsey with Berbatov is a very good move at a rumoured price of around £4-5m. Given the choice out of the two, I would have Berbatov, particularly given his desire to sign for Fulham even when within a signature from Fiorentina and Juventus.

In terms of Blackburn Rovers – the summer months have been busy months – no fewer than 12 players coming in and 10 going out (plus 4 loanees). Firstly the players that have left. Grella – no words need to be said and at least now the injured players can get near the treatment room. Yakubu – we were never going to keep him after the number of goals he scored last year although a bit of acknowledgment for reviving his career would have been nice. N’Zonzi – rumour is he fell out with Kean and was bringing a bad vibe in to the dressing room – he is a good players and has served Rovers well and I think he would be a better player at a different team to Stoke, but he is six-foot plus, so he will fit in well at the Britannia. Hoilett – not a massive miss to be honest, I think over the past two seasons he has cost us more goals than he has scored, and although he may look good for 30 seconds on Match of the Day, QPR fans will soon get frustrated – what surprises me is that Mark Hughes has worked with him before, but has still spent the money on him. Mark Bunn – a very good keeper and a good number 2 to have to call in to action, to be fair he deserve a shot in the Premiership. And finally, Radosav Petrovic – a man who never ceased to amaze when on the pitch for all the wrong reasons, I do not think he will be missed dearly, and I am shocked we got £2m for him. I am surprised and perplexed by the Goodwillie loan deal – this is a man we chased for an entire summer, spent some money on him to deny Rangers (probably for their own good financially) to then never play him. Whenever he has played, he has looked (knackered, excuse me) lively and dangerous, and has even bagged this season. I think it would have been good to see him partner Rhodes, at least as an option.

So what about the players in? It is still early days, but so far Gomes and Kazim-Richards look to have fit in well, both scoring decent goals. Dickson Etuhu puts in a shift and I think he is one of those players who has had a good game if you don’t really notice him, doing a lot of Danny Murphy’s running. On to Murphy, I think he wants too much time on the ball for the Championship to let him get away with, and a number of times he frustrates when he loses the ball and moans at the referee instead of tracking back – but this may improve with games. Jordan Rhodes is an exciting prospect, but with an £8m price tag will HAVE to find the net, my worry is that this will be difficult playing up front on his own, but with a fit Kazim-Richards next to him, this could be a relatively lethal partnership. The rest of the signings, who could be the staff of Preston Nando’s to  me I am not sure of – all I know is that it seems strange that a club would bring in so many young unknowns from a foreign country, conveniently where Mr Kean used to ply his trade (I still cannot imagine him speaking Portuguese!) – one name I have been given is Henrique Calisto – but do your own research and make your own conclusions.

Eight points from the first four games is not a bad return and I think to be second in the league and unbeaten is a good place to be, particularly when we haven’t played well at all – apart from the first 30 minutes of the Leeds game. My worry still remains that when we go one nil down the crowd will turn on Kean and the downward spiral will continue.

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