Date:Wednesday April 18 2007
Mark Hughes had previously admitted that he thought Blackburn Rovers would find it hard to qualify for Europe via the Premiership. Following our FA Semi Final defeat this is the ONLY way we can, and he now feels that maybe we still could?
Three successive Premiership defeats (despite leading in ALL three!), the last of which came against Aston Villa at Ewood Park the weekend before our FA Cup exit left us with a mountain to climb to gain entry via that route. Victory over Chelsea would have assured us of a place in next seasons UEFA Cup due to the fact Manchester United would be the opponents and they will have already qualified for Europe, as it happens defeat meant the Premiership's top seven will now gain automatic entry, with the eighth place team taking part in the summers Intertoto Cup.
Rovers currently sit in 13th place, nine points adrift of Portsmouth, but we have two games in hand, so winning both of these will see the gap closed, and if results go our way right back in the hunt. Tottenham Hotspur are also nine points ahead of us in eighth and we face the trip to White Hart Lane before the season is out so we still have plenty to play for, starting with Watford at Ewood on Wednesday in a "must win" match.
"European football is something we have to aspire to every year if we are to progress as a club.
"We still have a real opportunity to get there again and we are going to have a real go.
"We want to get our reward so it makes our efforts this year worthwhile.
"It is a big ask but not beyond us, given the way we played against Chelsea.
"The teams in and around us have games against each other and the top teams. It will be difficult for them to pick up maximum points while we could.
"The UEFA Cup is our aim but we have put ourselves down for the Intertoto just in case."
Benni McCarthy also has his sights on European football again next season, he added:
"We've just got to pick it up from Sunday's performance and we've got to keep doing well, and pick our performance up from here.
"If we can play like that in every single game, then we are still in with a massive chance."
It's still going to take something special to see us get in but can we do it? IF we miss out on seventh how would you feel about taking part in the Intertoto Cup? Say what you think…
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Date:Wednesday April 18 2007
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