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Ince by Inch: The BomBom Perspective (Part 2)

So the League season for Ince and Rovers started with a bang, an away win at Everton, the team that finished 5th last season and looked the "best of the rest". A draw to newly promoted Hull dampened spirits but only slightly before the Carling Cup game against potential banana skin, Grimsby Town.

This game saw the start of future superstar (in Rovers fans eyes anyhow) Carlos "Charlie Newhouse" Villanueva and boy did he not disappoint! 4-1 to the Rovers, 2 for Derbs, in his first start, up front too along with a bit of a special goal from Carlos but it was his all around work and creativity that made you believe that we had something a little bit special on our hands. The Rovers fans seemingly wanted to love him but needed more against a more substantial test to prove he was the real deal as, no disrespect to Grimsby, Manchester United-esque they are not.

Unfortunately, the Rover fans would have to wait….and wait….and wait for Villanueva`s next start.

In the mean time however, a thumping at West Ham and a footballing lesson at Ewood from Arsenal put a little bit of pressure on Ince and with the next Carling cup game against Everton due, a result was needed and, to be fair, duly delivered. Then a decent Fulham side came to Ewood, only to be sent back to the Big Smoke with tails between their legs. It was a sweet result also as former Blackburn Charge; Roy Hodgson was in charge of the Londoners.

So, it seemed that Blackburn were to be a team in flux; in transition where one game, such as the West Ham game, we would play well but get nothing but in others play averagely only to see us pick up a result of some sort.

From the Everton Cup game until today however, Rovers have won 1 league game, and collected an additional 6 league points, to put us on 13 points. We did not seem to have a problem performing in the cup games however, as Sunderland were beaten to see Rovers move into the quarter finals and a date with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

There were many questions being asked by the Rovers faithful, mostly out of frustration to see Blackburn struggle as they were.

Rovers were on a run of poor form going into the United game and with injuries and suspensions biting hard, meant that Johan Vogel got a place on the bench. Surprising when you consider that the Swiss international had not featured whatsoever all season. The cup result? Blackburn Rovers 3- Carlos Tevez 4 (plus Nani) 5.

It was a shocking performance against United`s reserve side. The fans were beginning to crack, chants for "Ince out" and for former managers Graeme Souness and Tony Parkes were heard that night,

This pretty much brings us to where we are at this moment. There are some issues I have deliberately held off touching on until now. Such idiosyncrasies as

1. How are we 19th in the league with a squad minus ONE player that finished 7th last season?

2. Why are we suddenly in the middle of an injury crisis?

3. Where is the backroom staff that made Ince the manager he was at MK Dons?

4. What does Nigel Winterburn actually do?

5. Does Ince have a preferred formation?

6. Why do we play a left back in central midfield, another left back on the left wing, a left winger at left back and a striker on the right wing?

7. Why hasn`t Samba or Nelsen been rested or dropped?

8. Why isn`t Villanueva being given a run in the side with such an injury crisis?

9. Why is Robbie Fowler still at Ewood Park?

10. What has Johan Vogel done to Paul Ince?

11. Where has the influx of youngsters gone?

12. Is Keith Andrews really that bad? Or that good?

What follows are my own views and not necessarily shared or agreed with by other Vital Rovers members.

1. How are we 19th in the league with a squad minus ONE player that finished 7th last season?

his, I believe, is the crux of the problem. A question that all Rovers fans have asked themselves. There is no obvious answer, only to suggest that Hughes, Bowen, Niedzwiecki, Hodges and Hitchcock were doing something vastly different and I may suggest superior than the current regime are doing.

2. Why are we suddenly in the middle of an injury crisis?

Again, this comes down to training methods rather than the ability of the club medical staff. As a team, Rovers do not look as fit as they did last season, or to be fair, any season under Hughes.

3. Where is the backroom staff that made Ince the manager he was at MK Dons?

Although Mathias was at MK Dons with Ince, the majority of the backroom team was not. Knox, Mimms and Winterburn were not part of the team that brought good football and relative success to MK Dons. So then, why were they not brought with? Surely they were one of the main reasons for their success, along with Ince and Mathias.

4. What does Nigel Winterburn actually do?

ANSWERS ON A POSTCARD PLEASE. Robinson aside, the defence has looked very leaky and as someone retorted, you could drive a bus between Nelsen and Olsson. The way we are defending, we need a full time specialist coach, not a part timer.

5. Does Ince have a preferred formation?

If he does, you wouldn`t believe him! Yes we might be playing 4-4-2 but it seems to get tinkered with and adjusted constantly. He needs to settle on a formation, even if he has one for home and one for away but settle on one and stick to it to let the players used to the bloody thing, If Ince doesn`t know what his preference is, how in the blue hell are the players meant to?

6. Why do we play a left back in central midfield, another left back on the left wing, a left winger at left back and a striker on the right wing?

In other words, PLAY PLAYERS IN THEIR POSITIONS!!! OK, so Warnock had one decent game in the middle of the park but when you have other players, be it reserves or youth players sat on the bench, it kind of makes them wonder what they have to do to get in the team when a left back is playing in the first team in their position! Also, it is worth noting that just because Matt Derbyshire is pacey IT DOES NOT MAKE HIM A RIGHT WINGER! If you feel a player is ready for the first team then great give him a go but if they struggle, do not put him up against Lennon or Ronaldo for the following games.

7. Why hasn`t Samba or Nelsen been rested or dropped?

Not really a criticism of either but neither of them has reached the heights (no pun intended) of last season or indeed the season prior. Nelsen does not look like the player of 2 years ago, injuries seem to be taking their toll on him but even then, he looks more assured and composed than Samba does. Ooijer and Khizanishvili deserve a chance in the middle, if for no other reason than to give them a rest. That might even spark a response from one or both of them.

8. Why isn`t Villanueva being given a run in the side with such an injury crisis?

We all had high expectations of Villanueva but so far he has failed to live up to the hype. Granted it takes time to acclimatise and integrate into the country and league but it doesn`t help that he isn`t getting a regular game. Whilst I understood Ince wanting to bring him in gently, the injury situation has or at least should have forced his hand, yet we have hardly seen what he is fully capable of. This is all the more worrying when you consider that by the end of the month we have to make a decision whether to make his loan stay permanent, at the princely cost of £5 million. I don`t think we have seen enough of him to warrant the money being spent which means that the purchase decision will be made based on training, something most fans are not privy to, and hence it could be a very contentions decision with a fair chunk of our transfer kitty potentially being spent.

9. Why is Robbie Fowler still at Ewood Park?

Ok, fair enough it was a gamble, a relatively cheap gamble at that but from the outset there were nagging doubts regarding his ability to stay fit and his actual contribution. The only issue I had was that Fowler would take the place of either the 4th striker, most likely Derbyshire or hinder the progress of a youth player, such as Marcus Marshall. Since Joining however Fowler`s contributions, in the cold light of day, have amounted to zero, therefore, as he was on a pay as you play deal, I question why he is still at Rovers. Personally, I would rather see Marshall on the bench rather than Fowler.

10. What has Johan Vogel done to Paul Ince?

I am sure most of us are wondering the same question. For my sins, most players signed by Hughes were decent players at worst (Berner excepted) Therefore, I do rate Johan Vogel and, to be fair, he is a Swiss international with clubs such as AC Milan in his career so you have to be a half decent player to play for a team of that ilk. What we saw from Vogel at the back end of last season was a player who was technically very talented but suffering from lack of football games. Overall, it was a promising start for a player who plays in a position we were weak in. Fast forward to August and Mr. Vogel was nowhere to be seen. Even more so was that Ince splashed out a cool £4 million on Grella, a player who plays in the same position as Vogel. What prompted this fall from a promising start? No one really knows, except the coaching staff. Only when the suspensions and injuries were at their worst was Vogel included in the matchday squad, against Manchester United in the Carling cup. It was reassuring to know that at least Johan had not shuffled off this mortal coil. Is there a future for Vogel at Rovers? I seriously doubt it but I would live to see him get a few games as he is a quality midfielder and would certainly add something to the Rovers midfield at present. He has more ability in his left foot than Mokoena has in total and therefore should b getting a look in, but he probably won`t. Anyone know how old Ince`s daughter is? ;)

11. Where has the influx of youngsters gone?

Considering they were a big part of the pre season build up, Judge, Treacy and Olsson especially, the contributions of the younger players has been largely disappointing. It may be unfair to judge them with so little premiership experience behind them, but here goes.

Treacy - Looks a decent left winger. Is not the 2nd coming of Damien Duff, nor is he, in my opinion, a threat for Pedersen`s place but a serviceable backup.

Olsson - Like this lad a lot and has moments where he shines but has been seriously over matched against pace. Lennon made him look a little foolish and was not much better against Ronaldo. Is that an unfair assessment? Maybe as even rated full backs get made to look silly by these types of players but even so, again looks servable but not a threat for the first team spot.

Judge - I was waxing lyrical about this lad in the pre season, he had some good games in the Portugal games and then POOF, before you could say Abracadabra, he disappeared from the first team picture. He did pick up an injury early on in the season but again, another who has fallen from grace. Why? Good question.

12. Is Keith Andrews really that bad? Or that good?

THE most contentious purchase EVER as far as I am concerned. Most fans berated Ince for pursuing him, one of our own forum members, god bless him, hammered the point home of jobs for the boys, the friends club etc. Now the dust is settling on it and we have seen Andrews play, is he really as bad as we thought? I would venture that, No, he isn`t. Is he better than what we had at Rovers? Only if Mokoena was our star midfielder. He is very Robbie Savage like, insomuch that he does work hard but doesn`t seem to actually do much creatively. So then, is he any good? Again, he`s not a bad player but the type of player that is littered about in the Championship, Peter Whittingham at Cardiff for example. For the money we cannot argue with what we bought. Then again, if you buy a Ford Fiesta, you shouldn`t expect it to compete with an Aston Martin or a Pagani Zonda so maybe we shouldn`t expect Andrews to shine in a league full of Ferrari`s and Lamborghini`s Should Rovers be buying aforementioned Fiesta`s however? The Jury is still out on that one but I would suggest that the Rovers faithful would say no.

Final Thoughts

I know I have gone on a bit, and I apologise but you cannot get your 10 minutes of life lost back. Ultimately, we are in this position because of two men. Paul Ince and John Williams.

John Williams isn`t at fault for how the team is playing but he was the one who backed the call for Ince to be appointed so should be apportioned a part of the blame also.

The main protagonist in all this however is Paul Ince. Yes he is a nice guy, he may even be a decent manager but clearly he was not ready for the step to the Premiership. Even from the throw away joke comment that we weren`t in the bottom 3…yet, to the comments about that there were people in the game not wanting former Ferguson charges to succeed in management, it shows that it just was the right person, wrong time maybe. Couple that with the erratic team selection and confusing formations has left our beloved club 19th in the league. Some are saying that a result against Wigan will show we are turning it around but for me, that time has gone. One result does not hide the flaws of 3 months. 3 points at Wigan does not guarantee better training, better man management, a decision on playing players in positions and a settled formation and team. This is something basic, which should`ve been instilled into the team in preseason in anticipation of the forthcoming season, yet here we are, 2 weeks from Christmas and we are staring relegation in the face.

I hope Ince proves me wrong and makes me eat my words but I believe we need to replace him with someone experienced to keep us in the league and consolidate,

Finally, Mr. Williams and the board. Back Ince and let him spend in January or sack him and replace him as our window of opportunity to stave off relegation is week by week getting smaller. Decisive action one way or other please!!!






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The Journalist

Writer: BomBom Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday December 10 2008

Time: 2:33PM

Your Comments

There you go lads, hope you enjoy, Comments and criticism welcomed.
BomBom
Very good mate. Enjoyed that. I agree with most things. Couple of things - we are the same squad minus TWO players buddy. And the fit a bus comment was between Samba and right back not the other way around. I also feel Nelsen has been our best defender by a mile this season. Apart from that cant fault it. Excellent stuff fella.
Mikey D
Read every word bom and it certainly is a good article and IMO hits the nail on the head. For me the reason he needs to go is that he has created so many of the problems that we face, things such as crazy team selections, and these problems are so obvious to every single rovers fan that its almost unbelievable that the manager is unable to see them or if he does see it that he persists in doing it. For me unless we thump Wigan four five nil (which wont happen) then I will remain unconvinced and part of the Ince out group. Good luck to the fella all the same.
durks de rover
I will be happy with the 3 points...
Mikey D
Another superb article dude, well thought out and well written. I've backed Incey (and of course will carry on doing so) but I've got to admit that I'm now VERY concerned about the direction we are taking under him and fear the cheap option was taken, and not in the clubs best interests, however I hope I'm wrong!!! Totally agree though the board MUST back him fully with some money in January or we may as well get shot of him now and at least bring someone experienced in that can get us out of the mire we're in. Defeat against Wigan this weekend WILL be the final nail I feel for Incey but we WON'T lose..................will we?!?!
Walker
Excellent article Bom, questions had me laughing and crying at the same time. Agree with you on almost everything - apart from blaming Ince for the injuries, Reid and Dunny getting injured is hardly the shock of the century, they both have form in that department. The grella injury must just be unlucky too. I just don't know what to think right now... Saturday is like waiting for your test results. You want to know, but the feeling is tinged with dread. "What if we fail?" or more accurately "What if we keep losing?". Still, Ince has messed around with formation all season, finally on saturday he played the obvious team and the one most fans want to see (as he did on the first day of the season, though with dunny obviously taking part). p.s. here's to more of Vogel off the bench on saturday!
Money4midfield
Mikey, yes I realised that it was 2 but realistically, it was only one that was not replaced, that being Little Davey Bentley. Like it or not, Brad was adequately replaced. As regard the injuries, yes Dunn and Reid have loyalty cards for the treatment room but that aside, this season has seen the most injuries since Souness was in charge. Was Hughes merely lucky with injuries for 3 and a half years? i seriously doubt that hence why the comment was suggested that it has to come down to HOW the players are training and their general fitness levels IMO
BomBom
Great piece bommy, well thought out, and points for each argument. We just need to get behind Ince for now, even if we dont want him there. The main goal is to climb out of the bottom 3, Im sure we can do it
sasman
Again... lets get down to wigan....
Mikey D
 

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