Why The Ince Way Is The Way Forward
Having had a chat with numerous friends of mine who are Rovers fans, there is a feeling on the terrace that Rovers should return to the days when we were limited but so hard to beat that we got the reputation as the bully boys.
This comes in the face of numerous defensive mistakes that have cost us points over the last few weeks as we play Paul Ince's style of attacking football, with quick movement and crisp passing.
Even though it leads to more open spaces defensively, I feel returning to the tough to beat days would be a mistake.
First off, do we really want to go back to having to absorb all sorts of abuse from rival fans about being thugs and not being able to kick a ball? Those days were horrid and even though it was at times unjustified the abuse receieved, I think we can all see where it came from and why it was dished out.
Furthermore, our disciplinary record this season has got off to a much better start than in previous seasons. We may still be towards the top of the 'discipline' league but we have so far only picked up one red card - even that was stupid and undeserved. This will eventually reflect well on us if this level of improvement is sustained.
Another reason I feel Rovers don't need the 'old school' way is that we have evolved with our playing staff and now have a higher calibre of players at our disposal to play a more attacking and pleasent method of the ball game we all love. During the 'bully boy' days, we had a front line of Paul Dickov, John Stead and Egil Ostentad with a 5 man midfield held together by Aaron "The Axe" Mokoena. Now we can choose between Benni McCarthy, Roque Santa Cruz, Jason Roberts and Matt Derbyshire and "The Axe" can barely get a game in a 4 man midfield - which sounds better to you?
The up and at them style of play would not suit players in the current squad such as Santa, McCarthy and Carlos Villanueva and would take away from their key strengths such as flair and creativity. Whilst we still have players who can mix it such as Stephen Warnock, Ryan Nelsen, Vince Grella and Aaron Mokena, the style of play at Ewood has evolved and involves an extra attacking threat than that of previous seasons. Even more so than last season.
Results on the pitch have been somewhat unfortunate, yes the table never lies but if we were in the position we are now (13th) and hadn't shown some purpose and threat that has been on show then Ince's head would already have been on the chopping block.
At full strength when we get past this injury crisis we have a squad that is as good as any outside the top 4 teams. Supporters of other clubs may sit there and disagree but why do you think they are always linked to our players?
My final point is the one that hopefully will ram this point home - if anything is going to bring the crowds back to Ewood Park it will be an entertaining brand of football. The days of kicking lumps out of people are over, it's in the past where it should stay and I for one know we are headed in the right direction. It will take time for Ince to have a full effect on the team and for us to consistently gets results that match performance, but if we back Ince and give him time like John Williams says he will then we will get better as a result.
Moving back to the old style is like admiting defeat in our attempts to be in the top half of the table over a whole season, because lets face it - we adopted the bully boy tag to get out of trouble, we don't need it anymore.