Writer: Mikey Delap
Date:Monday December 29 2008
Good morning everyone. I think we all agree it was absolutely heartbreaking yesterday but 3 games have been and gone since the big man took over and we can all have a lot more positive out look on the future of our beloved club.
There are several things that Sam has instantly transformed. Whilst there is certainly a long way to go and there are still improvements to be made, we can look back on a good start.
First off, Sam has got our players playing the way we want them to. Tough, hard in the tackle and willing to use the width on offer. The energy he has put back into our play after the Ince days has been a joy to watch.
At the back Robinson has made a solid start, he has two clean sheets to his name and looks more confident than he did when Ince was at the helm. He has obviously been given a little boost by a stronger defence.
Whilst, we are talking of a stronger defence, first off, the back 4 have looked a lot more orgainsed. Questions are still being asked by yours truly about the suitability of Andre Ooijer at right back, he does the work in my eyes but he looks like a centre back playng right back.
The reason I feel Allardyce keeps playing him there is his determination to play a settled back four. The rest have upped their game tremendously - Ryan Nelsen has organised things back there and the others have pulled rank. Samba has been up for a battle and Warnock is back to his old 'Mark Hughes' best.
The media based notion that we badly need whole sale reinforcements at the back is rubbish - a new right back I agree with (if we are not going to utilise Danny Simpson) but the other three are just fine - given the right leadership and coaching, which I believe Sam has been giving them.
The new manager has made his immediate priority shoring up the defence - which is 100% the way to go. Howeverm the midfield has been successfully used to keep the boat steady at the back as much as the defence has.
Midfield wise we have been suffering through injuries. David Dunn and Vince Grella are the first choice pair but neither can stay fit, if they could we wouldn't be in the position we currently occupy. Allardyce should be given credit for making the best of a bad situation and using the players to the best of their abilites.
Big Sam has found out how to use Keith Andrews to the best of abilites straight away. Sam has deployed him as the no nonsense midfielder whilst using the more refined Tugay as the attacking influence. This gets the best out of both - kudos to Sam for using them correctly, something I believe Paul Ince didnt.
On the wings, Big Sam is using the same players as Ince did but to much better effect. He has got Emo and Morten to stick to their wings but has forced them to take thei defensive duties more seriously. tracking back has been a must for both as the emphasis has been on clean sheets and solid defence.
Up front, much has been made of Santa Cruz and his desire to leave - I say if he does go, Big Sam needs to get the right amount for him and then send him on his way.
It is quite obvious that the McCarthy/Roberts combination works. Allardyce has shown faith in both of them and for the early part of his reign its worked a treat. Roberts has his faults for sure but the understanding between the two is something you can't put a price on. McCarthy will get 3/4 of the goals that the pair score but he wouldn't get them without his best mate next to him.
Big Sam again, must be given credit for recognising the footballing relationship the two have and using it to benefit Rovers. McCarthy has been underused under Ince and the latter days of Hughes' reign. Roberts is simply underrated.
In conclusion, Big Sam has got the best out of what we have more or less straight away. His job will be to maintain that over a longer haul but the early signs are encouraging. We could, and really should of had 3 wins from 3. But under Ince, sadly we wouldn't of been anywhere near saying that last sentence.
The managers' personality has rubbed off on the players and they have responded. Sam always says in interviews 'I pay attention to the detail' and I hope he does - because that is exactly what we need.
Date:Monday December 29 2008
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