Date:Thursday May 27 2010
Rovers Season Review
2009/10 is over... Please join me for this brief journey into the year that was
Opening day saw a loss to Mark Hughes` City. Santa Cruz, that wonderfully loyal and now immortal club legend (cough) was still injured and despite having the run of the first half, we went down in fine style to the well endowed City.
A second consecutive loss and a draw to relegation threatened West Ham had many talking up Blackburn`s relegation prospects. The league cup competition was going well, but by the time we went down to United, it was match week 10 and we were in danger of falling into the red zone.
It is in times of distress that leaders step up and Blackburn had these in abundance this season. Back to back wins against Portsmouth and Bolton steadied the ship. Rover`s best servant Jason Roberts scored the equaliser against Pompey and the brilliant Dunn combined with a wonderfully bad defensive gaff to give Rovers a 2-0 win against a struggling Bolton.
Things were looking up for Rovers, but soon disaster struck. The Big Man`s big heart was playing up and he needed surgery. Neil McDonald was sent in as cover and despite a terrible run of results, he oversaw one of Blackburn`s most incredible moments of the year: the 4-3 penalty shootout win over Chelsea.
espite the League Cup success, Blackburn was struggling in the Premiership. The defence was leaking and the goals had simply dried up. As a result, Rovers early good work was undone and a run of nine games without a win had the faithful worried.
To reverse our fortunes and respond to the striking crisis, Big Sam performed a controversial masterstroke: He sold Benni McCarthy and didn`t replace him.
eam Benni was shattered. In Lancashire, there were riots in the streets as unhappy fans burnt their way through 40 tons of pies, pizzas and 'anything but Diet` Coke.
ut as the ham and pineapple flowed on the streets, the Rovers results began to pick up.
In one of his last acts for the club, Benni McCarthy delivered a wicked free kick, playing the admiral in and sealing a 2-0 win against an impressive Fulham. When Benni left, the winning results continued, with the Rovers going on a ride up the Premier League ladder.
The backbone of the improvement came from the young players. Steven N`Zonzi showed what absolute quality he is, being one of Rovers most consistent performers. The much maligned Martin Olsson was chopping up the left wing, pushing a lacklustre Gamst into the middle and rejuvenating his career in the process. Junior Hoilett showed loyalty to the club, signing a new deal to back up a solid run of performances.
But the greatest effort came from the most unlikely source, after our beloved Captain Ryan Nelson went down with injury. Phil Jones debuted in the Premier League against Chelsea`s golden booted maiden, Didier Drogba. His skill and pure effort earned Rovers a 1-1 draw and etched Jones in the annuls of history.
With an unexpected point against United (which subsequently lost them the title) and wins against Arsenal and Villa, Rovers secured a well deserved top ten finish. In all it was a wonderful season, with all the highs and lows that make you love football.
But who do we thank for such a successful season? I`d like to lay it at the feet of two men: Sam Allardyce and Christopher Samba.
know it may be unfair to single out two people, but they truly led from the front. Big Sam brought on all these young players and made the big calls that worked. The wage intense Salgado became a rock at right back and despite all the criticism, there is no doubt that selling McCarthy had no negative impact on the team. To achieve 10th position in a very competitive league, with young players AND undergoing heart surgery truly shows the quality of the Big Man.
But despite all this praise, I feel that Rovers best performer of the year was Christopher Samba. When Nelsen went down, Samba took control of the team. To say he was a rock is a complete understatement. He was a fearless leader, a commander of awe and respect that held the team together when times were tough. Samba`s influence on the team cannot be understated. Jones should be given huge credit for what he has achieved, but the confidence given to him and the team by having Christopher Samba would have played a huge part in this. Samba won every header. He captained fearlessly. He annoyed the opposition. He won us games. He is (in my opinion) Rovers player of the year.
So that concludes my look back at the season. It has been a fantastic year and with the amount of young talent in the side, I have very high hopes for the future.
Date:Thursday May 27 2010
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