VB Weekend Winners and Losers
A real mixed month, plenty of positives and plenty of things to work on. Lets just be glad that we have got three of the most difficult fixtures all season out of the way already.
Anyway, Saturday evening at Man United from an optimists point of view was an improved showing from Stamford Bridge - players willing to close down, fight for the team and follow team orders.
From a pessimistic angle it was a Rovers performance that lacked invention and was merely an attempt to stay in the game as long as possible.
Where do I sit? On the fence actually... we were somewhere i the middle of the two polars I described. But I am pleased we are heading into a month where lots of points are achievable and Rovers home form is very good. Its just the away stuff that needs to pick up, but I am confident it will.
Anyway, who's done what, where, when and how this weekend?
GAEL GIVET - Super stuff at the theatre of dreams on Saturday from the Frenchman. He was stuck out in the left back spot where he is equally as comfortable as in the centre and stuck to his task admirably.
He kept Valencia reasonably quiet and put in at least three stunning blocks to thwart the United onslaught. One in particular from Dimitar Berbatov was top draw (I refuse to use the term 'world class' as it really doesn't mean a single thing!).
Next week as we move back to Ewood we may have stumbled across our prefered back four which leads me onto...
PASCAL CHIMBONDA - His first game for Rovers in his first choice right back spot was a super shift and shows why Sam spent wisely to bring him here. Fair enough he was marking the tricky but ultimately ineffective Nani but he ran a tight ship, covered everything with pace and didn't put a foot wrong in the tackle.
For me, the standout performer on Saturday and looking a snip and an inspired buy at £2 million.
A back four of Chimbonda, Samba, Nelsen, Givet looks the way forward to me.
PAUL ROBINSON - The nightmare of last week has been banished.
He has been castigated in the media for not being able to handle long range shots after letting a strong but aimless Michael Essien effort in at Chelsea due to poor positioning and there were concerns his confidence would be shattered.
His response was great. Looked assured at all times and commanded his area to restore parity on what has been a tough week for Paul.
People will still say things like 'hey, he conceded five at Chelsea and six at Arsenal so he's still rubbish!'. But people who have said that are ignorant fools who are on a witch hunt. Look at the goals and conceded and tell me how many Paul could have kept out (bar the Essien one), the answer rhymes with hero and is a circular number. It's mainly poor defensive work that has exposed Englands' Number One and if anything is it wasnt for some great stops for Robinson, things could have been a lot worse.
Anyway, back to Manchester and smart stops from Berbatov twice, Rooney, Carrick and Nani was the sum of his efforts and the two goals that beat him were unstoppable by anyones standards.
For a month where he has shifted 15 goals, Robbo can take a suprising amount of confidence.
KEITH ANDREWS - How long do we have to put up with these anonymous performances? I forgot he was playing for about 40 minutes on Saturday, Steven N'Zonzi had to tackle and battle for two people. Keith's sole job seemed to be to get the ball and make sure United got the ball back!
We could have played Emerton in Andrews spot, and played Hoilett on left wing, that would have been my ploy to get more presence in the centre of midfield.
I like Keith, unlike others I have backed him but he is out of his depth against this calibre of opposition.
MORTEN GAMST PEDERSEN - After a bright start to the season, it looks an all to familiar story for Morten.
In patches he looked like he had purpose on the ball when he came on but it petered out to nothing. Crosses were poor, losing possession and not getting his head up to find options to pass to.
It may have been the standard of player he was up against but Morten needs to step on the gas in November because Brett, Junior and I imagine Van Heerden are breathing down his neck.
EL HADJI DIOUF - When the going gets tough, instead of the snarling, work happy Diouf that normally turns up was again replaced by the diving, complaing Diouf that turned up against Chelsea.
Again, I know it frustrating when you are playing against the best players there are (and John O'Shea)but it doesn't reflect well and shows a certain air of desperation when all you can do is shout at the ref when things don't go your way.
All in all, I speak for all this weeks 'losers' when I say there is plenty for them to work on this week.