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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Rovers` Andrews - The New Atkins

Never before has there been such a universal shrug of the shoulders to greet the contract extension of a first-team Blackburn Rovers player as there was with Keith Andrews` new four year deal. However, despite the general negative consensus surrounding the Republic of Ireland international I feel he may have a more important value after all.

Alas, as I meandered home last week and waited for my evening footy match I delved into my dad`s haphazard mini library and dug out Kenny Dalglish`s autobiography and opened at the only chapters of interest - the Blackburn Rovers years.

Reading about that famous campaign persuaded me to put-off my afternoon tasks to unashamedly indulge in the full season review; on VHS!

It was whilst watching the re-run and admiring the style of football we played and never received enough praise for - incidentally, how come the likes of Tim Sherwood, Jason Wilcox and Stuart Ripley never earned more England caps - that the impact of a certain, unfashionable and slightly portly midfielder became apparent.

Towards the second half of our most famous season Mark Atkins, everyone`s favourite squad player, really rose to prominence, at times keeping Paul Warhurst - who up to that point was having a very strong season - out of the side.

His nous for timing a run into the box at the perfect moment returned a vital six goal haul during the season and his ability to link up play in a simple and understated way endeared him to the Rovers support. He stepped up and made 34 appearances in the league often filling in for the high-profile injured players that littered our treatment room.

His goal against Liverpool at Ewood Park to earn us a 3-2 win when coming from behind turned out to be vital. Watching his involvement reminded me of Keith Andrews and his first season at Blackburn.

In an almost perfect symmetry, Andrews clocked up 34 appearances last season and returned a respectable four goals; our top-scoring non-striker. Those goals proved to be as valuable to our cause last year as Atkins` were to our ambitions in 1995. His ability to arrive in the box at the key moment brought a winner against Hull and an equaliser against West Ham.

But what Andrews, like Atkins, doesn`t receive credit for is his technique striking a ball at goal from distance. Atkins popped up with a couple of screamers in the Championship winning season and Andrews demonstrated his ability with a winner against West Brom from distance.

With the likes of David Dunn, Steven Reid and Vince Grella hoping to be fully fit next season, Andrews` first-team chances will be reduced but it is testament to his hard work that Rovers fans no longer refer to him as a player out of his depth, in fact one Rovers fan wrote on the Lancashire Evening Telegraph website, "You have to hand it to Andrews…he really is our irish Mark Atkins." An apt quote with which to finish this piece.




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The Journalist

Writer: Roversman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday July 27 2009

Time: 12:11PM

Your Comments

The art of management is to spot the potential in players - take an average player and turn him into a star. BSA rates Andrews, as do Ro Ireland and if reports are to be believed, Roy Hodgson of Fulham. Is he the midfield mastermind that we need? Will he be able to secure a regular place in the team? He certainly has commitment and proved himself as a good squad player but we've only seen him in his first season, so here's hoping that he rises above squad player staus to become a star of the 09/10 campaign and prove his doubters wrong.
YORK ROVER
I like Andrews. He plays with his heart on his sleeve and works for his place in the team. He's only had a season to adapt to the Prmiership from a much lower level (3 leagues lower). If some of our other midfielders .... *cough* Pederson *ahem*... gave as much as Andrews does we would have scored a hell of a lot more goals last season!
Money4midfield
Quality as always Roversman! I always have rated Andrews as a vital squad member. Not sure how much game time he will get this season, but Im sure that whenever he gets the opportunity, he wont let us down
sasman
I had to laugh at the shrug of the shoulders remark.. because that was exactly my reaction to it.
spinaker
great read Roversman - awesome as always! Agree completely!
Mikey D
Andrews everyone's friend! I'm glad he had a fairly good season and proved a lot of critics wrong. I welcomed him and thought the stick he was getting was unfair - although I didn't think he'd be as good as he was. I also think that it's refreshing to sign a player with something to prove, who wants to go out (not moan) and get on with the job - I have to say I think Hughes was good at finding this sort of player and getting the best out of them - and with our resources these are the players we will always end up buying. It is testiment to the player for working hard to raise their game to a new level but it's also great to see good management to motivate them to play well too - so hats off to Ince and BSA as well.
FreidelNo.1
 

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