16th - 22nd Oct 06
Right, another busy week as we play two matches, one on Thursday against Polish club Wisla Krakow in the first of four UEFA Cup group matches and Saturday against Bolton in the league. Bolton will be a tough match as they are coming into the game with consecutive wins against Newcastle, Liverpool and Portsmouth.
Just as I mention Newcastle, I have just become aware that Newcastle have taken an interest in Lucas Neill again and will rival Liverpool to get him. No disrespect to Newcastle, although they were once a giant of football and are still a very good team, I feel that they are no bigger than us, hence Neill not really bettering himself and achieving more! Newcastle are reported to be going to challenge for his signature in January. Imagine if he was to leave us for Newcastle or Liverpool in January and then come end of season we finished higher than them and next season we were to be the only team out of the three to be playing in Europe. It wouldn`t look so rosy for him then would it! West Ham and Tottenham are also said to be interested.
David Bentley has been on fine form for us lately with some cracking goals and there is even talk of him possibly gaining an England call up. However, Hughes has played down the fact that he is ready to compete at this level as he is only just finding his form after a disappointing spell at Arsenal, where for some reason, they failed to get the best out of him. Hughes thinks once he gets into them wide areas, he is playing exceptionally, but at the moment he is simply having a good game, no more and no less. It will be good to see him playing for England though I think sometime this season, but we as fans, as well as the club should not be putting too much pressure on him.
Tuesday 17th October 06
Good news with Tugay. Hughes is said to be ready extend his current contract, which runs out in June and it is said to be to keep him at the club past his 37th birthday, so guess it will be a year`s extension. He has been a key player for us this season and will be good to keep the Turk, especially if he keeps playing like this. Anyone for a piece of Turkish delight?Left-back Andy Taylor has become a target for Blackpool due to their first choice Paul Tierney being out injured and his replacement Danny Coid limping out injured during the weekend. Taylor impressed last season whilst there on loan so they are hoping to bring him back to fill the void. Click Here for Full Article
Steven Reid today received a setback; the back problem that has been keeping him out has been diagnosed as a stress fracture. Reid went to see a chiropractor in the hope of solving the problem, but ended up being told that he will now be out until at least the middle of February. The fracture is in one of the vertebrates and Reid now has to spend six to eight weeks resting and this is said to heal it and then he will have to spend the same amount of time regaining his fitness. Click Here for Full Article I personally hate sitting around doing nothing, but I know the feeling as spent nearly two months last October stuck in a hospital bed 24/7. Take it easy mate and watch what you eat, else you`ll end up with a nice set of love handles ha!
Hughes is hoping that Reid will be available again by at least January, a month earlier than suggested. He also hopes to have Ryan Nelsen who has not played a game yet this season back about the same time, after his successful operation he had on his hamstring last month. Hughes believes the pair of them to be two of our key players last season and is hopeful of a smooth return. He is however delighted with how well we`ve been doing without them so far and if they play as well as last season when they come back, we stand an even better chance of a successful campaign. I just hope that they are able to gain full match fitness and don`t loose their edge after lengthy sideline spells, especially Nelsen as he could possibly be out longer in total than Reid. Click Here for Full ArticleWednesday 18th October 06
The week is building up and now only another day until we play our first UEFA Group match. Click Here for Full Article Brett Emerton is saying that the players are going into the match against Wisla Krakow with confidence sky high which is obviously a good thing as should reflect in the way that they play. Click Here for Full Article Confidence is high and it is now seven matches unbeaten and Emerton believes that we can get something from the match as we are a confident team away from home and can win it, as well as the other two home matches. He has reflected on the form against Salzburg in the qualifying matches and feels the second leg match was won quite comfortably. I believe that a victory will be on the cards tomorrow as I feel the chance of winning the cup is as good as anyone.
Hughes has also reflected on the Salzburg ties and believes that it has helped shape the season so far, especially the 2-2 draw. He thinks the boys are playing well and is just as pleased with the style of play as the results, and feels the team are as good as we could have hoped for.
Our youngster Tony Kane has been named in the Republic of Irelands under-21 team for the friendly against Luxembourg. It is always good to have players appear internationally as it is a sign of quality which usually tends to get you there.Talk of late has been of Mark Bowen quitting as our trusty number two to become a coach elsewhere, but behind all this we have lost our academy coach Eric Kinder who has quit to become Head of Youth at Carlisle united and also to be the assistant reserve team manager. He has spoke highly of us however saying that when he got offered the Rovers job it was a dream come true as it is his home town. But he felt this new challenge gave him the chance to make the next step in his career. All the best to you Eric. Click Here for Full Article
Thursday 19th October 06
We`ve got quite a busy schedule ahead as we`ve played today`s match earlier this afternoon. The boys have then got to fly back from Poland and play Bolton on Saturday which of course is a big one against our rivals. It will be hard as they are on fine form so far this season. We then have Chelsea next week in the Carling Cup and then West ham on the Sunday which I feel won`t be easy, especially as they will be desperate to get a result following their six loses and they`re due something in their favour, that is if they don`t get a result from Tottenham on Saturday.
Anyway, enough about oppositions and back to us. Mark Hughes believes that UEFA Cup glory can be ours and that our 'crazy gang of jokers` can laugh their way to success. A series of dressing room pranks have been happening, which no doubt is fuelled by the run of success we`re enjoying at the moment, I would love to see the crazy stuff they are doing. It is no surprise to hear that Savage is one of the characters involved in this. It supposedly started when Andy Todd donned wig to impersonate Savage, along with a dodgy Welsh accent. Savage was to respond by slipping on a white robe and black belt to masquerade the martial arts of Todd. Other players are said to be getting involved too and Hughes thoughts on Savages acting are not that of encouragement, saying that he should not give up his day job and at least their footballing skills are better than the acting. So there you have it, don`t go trying to be a Vinnie Jones and crack Hollywood; or England, Wales or any other country in fact.Hughes is confident that we can qualify for the knock-out stages of the UEFA Cup and I think we will as the top three teams go through and the way we have been playing, we can surely do it and make it our most successful UEFA campaign yet. He now has every right to believe it after picking up maximum points away to Wisla Krakow in Poland. Hughes was anxious to get off to a good start in the group stages before the match, hoping that we could pick up maximum points.
He got what he wished for with a good display, especially in the second half as I feel we were by far the better team. Click Here for Full Article The first half was not too bad, but I think we were a little rocky, but felt we did not deserve to go in half time 1-0 down. We dominated with chances in the second half and it was not until nearer the end of the second half that they really challenged us with any shots. I thought Tugay played a good game, especially for 'an old guy` or something along them lines as the commentator said during the match. It would have been good to see McCarthy add to his tally or for Shabani Nonda netting, but importantly we got the goals to steer us in the right direction. It is being said that Hughes thought a draw away from home and maximum points from the two home games should be enough to get us through. I would like to think that if we were to give the players home support anything like against Salzburg, we should get the results which I`m sure we will do, with the bargain ticket prices, especially the two matches for the price of one for them lucky season ticket holders.
Friday 20th October 06
Things are looking good for us after yesterdays UEFA Cup triumph as we are now in the driving seat and it is now up to us to remain there. There has been a good balance with results in Europe and the league and I am very pleased that one has not suffered as a result of the other.Hughes is hoping like all of us that we can continue our roll of eight matches unbeaten against Bolton and Hughes said that he is looking for more of the same. He does think though that to keep this run going it is a big ask of the players and that eventually he will have to look into freshening up the team, but the players are on such a high at the moment with the way things are going and enjoying playing football that they want to win every match.
Saturday 21st October 06
It is good to see that Ryan Nelsen is staying positive in his pursuit on making a return by January. He has said that he is feeling really good and Hughes said that they have to keep the reigns on him as he is threatening to sprint round the block everyday. It is very encouraging to hear as not all players are as motivated with such strong determination to get back and this lack of motivation can sometimes deter their comeback. Having said that though, he will have to be careful as not to overdo it and push himself too hard as this could lead to more problems, resulting in longer on the sidelines.
Hughes has praised Bolton ahead of the match and feels they are one of the toughest oppositions in top football, having proved themselves year after year and I agree with him. They have a good team and a really good manager and I myself like Big Sam and felt he would have been good for the England job and what England might have needed. Hughes feels that Bolton are a very solid team and as good as anyone at the moment and I guess their third place in the table so far is showing this. Hopefully we can get a result today and head in the right direction, gaining some ground on them.I was disappointed to hear about the racial abuse that our Benni got on Thursday at the hands of Wisla Krakow defender Nikola Mijailovic and several other players as well after the whistle. Click Here for Full Article There is no room for racial abuse in football or anywhere in life. I feel that we are all human beings and despite colour, race etc. we are all the same. Mijailovic has now admitted there was a running battle, but McCarthy started it, having hit him in the first minute and was using foul language towards him. He also said that after the whistle he tried to ignore McCarthy but was confronted and pushed. He is saying that it is nonsense that he racially abused him and that he is a big sissy and the investigation will find him innocent as everything is on tape. Click Here for Full Article
I am not just saying this as Benni is a Rovers player, but I find it hard to believe he would act that way as he seems such a nice chap and why would anyone make false racial allegation slurs for no reason. It has also been noted that Wisla Krakow has an ongoing feud with neighbouring team Cracovia where conflict, violence and controversy is not uncommon. My knowledge of this is vague, but it does not portray them in the best light does it and I like to believe that McCarthy would not stoop so low as to make something of this magnitude up and I`m sure he did not.Sunday 22nd October 06
I had a nice lay-in today in preparation of our derby match against Bolton. Click Here for Full Article I feel this will be a tough match, possibly the toughest to date solely because we are a quarter of the way through and Bolton are in fine form. Emotions will be high and they will be trying to out do us as much as us them. Hopefully we will be able to continue our great run of late and earn some of the spoils.
Hughes has spoke of the impact that David Bentley has had this season and his contribution to the good run we have had. People talk of the players that have got away from Ewood Park but Hughes feels that Bentley could be one that got away from Arsenal. He could be right there but I doubt it would effect Arsenal like it would us say as they always have huge players coming into the team, hence younger/youth players struggling to break through. Hopefully when we face them Christmas time on December 23rd he could bag himself an ideal present and come back to haunt them at the Emirates stadium. Hughes has spoke of how he like many others was trying to push his way through to the team but the pressure is on teams like Arsenal to buy in big money stars. Bentley found his path jammed to an extent and Hughes said that Bentley knew himself that he would have to move. It looks as though we are getting the best out of him which was not happening at Arsenal. He did not look so good when he had him on loan but his game has come a long way and he is becoming a consistent player, bagging some great goals and Hughes admires his technique and the way that he is comfortable on the ball. His performances have even led to talk of an England recall but Hughes is cautious of this believing that he has the technical ability to be an international but for now should work on his game with us.After Thursday`s triumph, I felt we had it in us to win this match, yet I guess it was not to be. We dominated the match for large periods of the game, yet the single goal of the match by Ivan Campo was enough to elude us. Hughes felt that we played some great football, probably as good as we have played so far this season. I can`t believe we lost despite having two penalties awarded towards the end. After Benni missed the first penalty I just had this feeling that Roberts would miss the second as with it being fifty-fifty with penalty taking, the goalie to me was always going to be favourite after saving moments earlier as would be the more confident. Hughes felt a bit unfortunate not to get any prize from the game after a genuine goal was not given when the ball was clearly over the line and also there was a penalty claim earlier that was not given that was a stronger claim than the ones that had been given. Hughes however is not overly disappointed though as he feels that Bolton are a difficult team to play against and they are very good at defending a lead and hitting you on a break. Hughes thought that it was a good performance despite the result, but we obviously did not get the break we deserved. Click Here for Full Article