Date:Saturday June 6 2009
What a season it was. One to forget? Or one to remember and move on from. Who really knows. End of the day, we stayed up, and live to fight another day. However, is this good enough for Blackburn? Many would say we are over achievers, we performed 'too well' under the Mark Hughes era, however, Sas disagrees.
With the abundance of talent at our disposal, Benni McCarthy, Roque Santa Cruz, Brett Emerton, Ryan Nelsen, Gamst Pedersen, plus many more international players, Rovers should be aiming for a minimum top 10 finish. Sure, we might not have squads as talented as the big 4, maybe even Man City, Villa and Everton, but surely, we are strong enough to be one of the best of the rest? With an odd upset on one of the bigger teams, allowing us to fight for a continental spot????
However, this season was not to be. Paul Ince had the unfortunate task of rebuilding a Rovers outfit which unfortunately had lost 2 of its best and consistent players, David Bentley and Brad Friedel. After the signings of Paul Robinson, Vince Grella, Carlos Villanueva, Danny Simpson (latter 2 on loans), Ince sprung the biggest surprise (or was it), signing his 'friend', Keith Andrews. Many doubted Keiths ability, and whether he would cut it in the strongest competition in the world, and boy didnt he show them all.....
With the season underway, the Ince era got of to the best possible start, a win against highly rated Everton, with Andre Oijer pouncing to collect a 92nd minute winner. However, unfortunately for Ince and Blackburn, this was the shining moment of his regime....
Loss after loss, poor performance after performance, with only 2 wins against Fulham and a hapless Newcastle outfit, a 3-0 drubbing against fierce rivals Wigan sent Ince on his way. He believed he needed more time, Rovers believed they needed to stay up. Several names were up to replace him, however, Blackburn went with the tried and trusted, Big Sam Allardyce. Trenched to the bottom of the league, Sam's primary goal was to keep Rovers up, anything else would be a bonus.....
30 minutes, thats all it took. 2 goals by Benni, a goal by Roberts, and the Ince era was all but forgotten, with Sam's first game in charge, against Stoke City, an indication of things to come...Rovers then went on a 9 game unbeaten streak, including cup ties, however, old habits returned. Rovers couldnt finish of Coventry in the cup, and losses to Villa and Man U had the fans worried. The up and down season continued, but Rovers managed to notch up vital wins against Fulham, Tottenham, Newcastle and Portsmouth, ensuring Rovers Safety....
Along the way, Sam managed to snare the loan signing of Gael Givet, and sign the Senegalese Walking Headline, El Hadji Diouf. Both players featured heavily in the run in, leaving positive impressions on the Ewood faithful.
However, for the Sas, there was one player who stood out....Vince Grella? no, Brett Emerton?, no? however, it was highly ridiculed Irishman, Keith Andrews.... We all had a laugh when he was signed, the best friend from MK Dons, but what a valuable player he turned out to be. Sure, he didnt create, he rarely scored, heck, who knows what he did, but he was there. 26 appearances for the Rovers, playing Central Midfield, Right Midfield, Holding Midfield, Right Back, whereever he was needed, and pitching in with 4 goals, scoring more goals then Gamst, Diouf, Dunn, Grella, Samba, heck, even equal with Roque Santa Cruz, making him our 3rd highest scorer of the season (geez we struggled....thank god for Benni). So Credit to the Irishman, whether he features as much next year, who knows, but Keith was a reason we stayed up, rather then a reason we struggled....
The end of an Era, Tugay, the Maestro, Our Turkish Delight, hung up the boots in front of the Ewood Faithful. Unfortunately we couldnt send him out with a win, but the Rovers fans stuck around after the game, chanting the legends name for the whole 90 minutes, and another 90 minutes. Tuggers came of with minutes to go, a monumental moment for Rovers, as one of its legends had finally called it a day. It is important not to forget that we bid farewell to 2 other ever presents, Andre Oijer and Aaron Mokoena. Ooijer, the Dutch International, decided to go back home to PSV, whilst Aaron, not everyones cup of tea, hopefully finds some regular action with Pompey. Both served the club to their absolute best, and we send them out with our best wishes.
As for next year, who knows. Many are saying we need a complete overhaul, but we need to remember we have 3 new signings already. Brett Emerton, David Dunn and hopefully Steven Reid, will all be ready for round 1. Theres 3 midfield slots as well as right back covered. Maybe it aint as bad as it looks. Derbyshire returns to the club, whether he stays or not who knows, hopefully he does, as I feel he will knotch at least 10 premiership goals next season. If he and Benni can work together, as well as Roberts, we do have enough goals in us to push forwards. Gamst and Diouf need to net a few more goals, a goal each really isnt good enough.
As for my boys, I assure you, a pre season for Grella will see him in full flight come August. His passing game will be up to scratch, and we cant doubt his tackling ability. And for the legend, Emerton, you all know what he is about, we missed him this year after a fantastic start, but he will be back....
Thats the report from the Sas, hope you enjoyed the read
Date:Saturday June 6 2009
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