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30th October - 5th November 06



Monday 30th October 06
Things have not been good as of late but I am hoping like everyone that this is going to be a better week. We`ve got FC Basel at home on Thursday and I am sure the fans will be packing out the place, especially as it is made more affordable for the season ticket holders. Then at the weekend we face Aston Villa. This will not be an easy match as they are having a good season, but what is on our favour is that despite a good start only losing one game in ten, they have only managed to win three, failing to turn the draws into wins and they will be coming off the back of a loss to Liverpool so I feel we stand a good chance of getting something from that match.

Hughes has talked again of how the poor first half against West Ham cost us yesterday. It means three consecutive loses now after eight unbeaten. Hughes wanted a fast start to the game so that we could dictate it but it did not happen. Click Here for Full Article The second goal (against the run of play) knocked the wind out of our sails. Come on boy`s time to focus on Thursday`s match.

The loss was a poor day in the world of Blackburn Rovers and Hughes has now turned his attention to the UEFA Cup clash against FC Basel on Thursday. He will need to pick up the lads and they can`t go dwelling on the past. With the first half against West Ham aside, if they keep playing to the tempo they have been this season then things will come good. Hughes felt we would have got something had it not been a poor first half and wants to forget and move on.

The loss of Jason Roberts was a huge blow for us yesterday. The injuries are mounting as we`ve got Ryan Nelson and Steven Reid out long term. Then Brett Emerton, Gamst Pedersen and Shabani Nonda were missing against West Ham and there is a possibility Pedersen and Nonda might not be fit for Thursday. It will be a lift if they are and hopefully should they be fit, Pedersen will find the form that has been eluding him thus far this season. Savage will be back from suspension, which is definitely a plus as he is having a fine season. Tugay has been fantastic during our UEFA campaign and I am sure once again on Thursday he will lead by example and be right at the heart of the action. Injuries are making the squad look thin but with the right mentality we should be fine.

Following the Benni McCarthy winning his UEFA racial abuse case, Jason Roberts has spoke of how he has suffered racial abuse during his career in England. He feels that huge strides have been taken in the English game and that he has been lucky during his ten years as a player to only have been targeted two or three times, yet he obviously wishes he could say that it had never happened at all. He has applauded Benni for making a stand and the club for backing him. He hopes that people will now think twice about what they say and hopes that UEFA will take a long serious look at clubs and their players. Obviously no one wants to be racially abused and I hate hearing about these issues that happen, but in a funny kind of way, this incident could be a good thing as it shows that people will not get away with it and that action will now be taken and the trouble makers will now concentrate on the beautiful game.On the subject of racial abuse and McCarthy, Wisla Krakow and defender Nikola Mijailovic have appealed against the ban as they had to by today and a hearing is set for Wednesday in Nyon, the headquarters of the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body. Click Here for Full Article Hopefully they will stand firm and insist that he carries out his ban. I would love it if they extended the ban because the club and player push board or something along them lines. It would be crazy if they were to go back on or reduce the ban as I feel that this will make them look like they are a soft touch and do not see the issue at its full seriousness. He deserves everything he gets and so do the rest of those racists.

Our women`s team were in action last night and I`m afraid to say they took a bit of a whooping at the hands of Leeds United. It was not a good night as they lost 5-2. Leeds took an early lead but we levelled to then concede again before the break. There were goals a plenty in the second half with all conceded in an eight minute period coming along like trains in the London Underground. Leeds made it 3-1 before we reduced the deficit to 3-2 looking like we could get something from the game. However Leeds went on to be clear winners at 5-2. Hard luck ladies.

Tuesday 31st October 06
Paul Gallagher made his 50th Premiership appearance against West Ham on Sunday. It has no doubt taken him a while to amass this number but a good loan spell at Stoke City last term saw him play well and Hughes can obviously see his potential so hopefully he will continue to play well and good things will come from him and no doubt he will double his fifty appearances in hopefully half the time of the last half century.I am looking forward to our UEFA Cup match against FC Basel on Thursday and see no reason why we can`t win that one. Click Here for Full Article In just over three weeks is our next group game away to Feyenoord and for this fixture we have been granted another 2,500 tickets which will be great for us with that extra support, especially as it will be our toughest group match to date. Click Here for Full Article

John Williams is encouraging us to pack out Ewood Park on Thursday and provide the kind of support that there was against Red Bull Salzburg when we won 2-0. He has always said that UEFA was not just about making money and about pride and Williams like all of us hopes that we can win the group to get a good seeding so could try and avoid one of the Champions League teams that drops down.

I feel it is a huge blow that Jason Roberts got injured on Sunday against West Ham and must have been an even bigger personal disappointment for him as he was just forging his way into the team since arriving during the summer after injury and pushing for a starting place. We could do with his pace and power especially to progress in Europe. I think he could have been a key player in the competition and hopefully we will still be in the competition when he returns. When he came on as a sub against Wisla Krakow in the second half he looked in good form and caused them a few problems and played a part in the second goal.

He has now had his operation on his broken metatarsal and the good news is that it was a success but he is going to be a long-term injury which will be a blow to Hughes with enough injury problems but hopefully he can come back sooner than anticipated and the rest of the squad can steer free of too many injuries. Click Here for Full ArticleWednesday 1st November 06
Following Wisla Krakow`s appeal against Nikola Mijailovic that had to be forwarded by Monday, UEFA rightfully rejected it and he will have to serve his five-match ban. Click Here for Full Article This is good news and a step in the right direction against racism and I bet he regrets the stupid comments he made now. Such offences as these lead to an automatic ban for a first offence unless the player can prove otherwise. Hopefully second, third etc will be just as tough, well even more appropriate.

The injury worries keep mounting for Hughes as Brett Emerton has been ruled out of tomorrow`s group game due to a hamstring complaint with Pedersen doubtful with an ankle injury and Nonda with his shin. I don`t think the two latter injuries are too serious so I have a feeling that they will be able to overcome these and feature in some form tomorrow and Savage has served his suspension, so should be back after suffering fluid on the knee. Even with these players missing, I think we will still win the match and if we don`t use them, they will be rested even longer which will be good.

Thursday 2nd November 06
It is good to see that we are producing some good young players in the Youth team and no doubt some of them will come good especially with more chance than the likes of Arsenal etc. Our 19-year-old Tony Kane will spend the next month at Stockport County to gain that all important first team experience and I would have thought that Hughes has got something planned with him for the future as he has recently signed a two-year contract. We will have to keep tabs on him as he could be a talent for the future!? Click Here for Full ArticleBrad Friedel played tonight at the risk of missing the birth of his second child so he could bring his experience to the match following a host of injuries already to the squad. I am guessing that the baby did not pop out during the match as nothing has been said of it yet. An extra goalkeeper was taken to the West Ham game in case he was to be called and nearly a week on and the babies still not born yet. I`m sure another addition to the family could up his game even more due to being a happy man, not that there are any doubts about his performances.

Late fitness tests were handed to Shabani Nonda and Gamst Pedersen and I guess they must have been okay as they played. Unfortunately Stephan Henchoz was only able to be a spectator today and will be until the New Year as he signed after the competition had started but he no doubt was able to offer advice to the style of play our Swiss opposition might have had planned due to that being his native country.

Both managers went into the game fully aware of the opposition with respect for each other and the ability of the other team. You could argue that FC Basel manager Christian Gross might have had the upper hand with previous European experience and an insight into British football, whereas Hughes does not really have experience in Europe, neither any insight into the Swiss game. I still believed we would win this game though with the performances we have put in so far and obviously I was right!

Tonight was a dream result for us. It took a while until the first goal but when it finally did come quite late in the second half, it was worth the wait. Despite knowing Tugay`s ability and what he is capable of, especially with his performances in Europe this term, I was pleasantly surprised with how well he played. His goal was a fantastic, in fact masterful goal by the way he held his shot so the defenders would impede the keeper`s vision. Hughes hailed his performance and felt he was fantastic all night. He has been all through our campaign.It was also good to see Franny Jeffers get his first goal when he came on, even though it was a penalty. Hopefully it will boost his confidence and they will start trickling in. Also another for Benni McCarthy which is no surprise and he deserved a goal as he always works hard. It was an all round good game and hopefully we can make it nine group points against Feyenoord. Obviously it was a shame that Savage had to come off injured all fingers crossed it will not be too long term.

Friday 3rd November 06
Unfortunately Savages injury was worse than hoped and will be out longer this time than when he had a similar thigh problem, which cut his game short against Bolton. It looks to be three to four weeks but Savage hopes that this will give someone like Aaron Mokoena a chance during the busy schedule. Click Here for Full Article He also paid tribute to Tugay and great he has been and was during last night`s game and I agree with Savage that the pair make a good team together in midfield. Fingers crossed Savage will be well again soon and whoever fills in can do a fine job.

However, despite Savage fearing a lengthier absence this time, Hughes is confident that the injury is not as bad as Savage thinks. As we all know Savage can be a little emotional during these bad phases but Hughes thinks it will probably only need about ten days to recover, perhaps two weeks tops. He`ll be back before he knows it, just you wait and see.

Luke Jones, a former youngster of ours has signed for Shrewsbury Town on a one-year deal after we released him in the summer. He has impressed whilst playing for their reserves so hopefully things will come good for the young lad. He is still young so can learn and better himself. Obviously he could not have been up to the criterion required to play for us or any other top-flight team but hopefully he can impress and progress at his new club and progress his career in time as well.Saturday 4th November 06
Hughes like many of us feels that Tugay has got many years left in his legs despite not getting any younger at the age of 36. Tugay was supposed to be somewhat of a part timer this season being used sparingly but unforeseen injuries and problems have seen him start eleven games and appear at the heart of the team during Europe with many a fine display thus far this season. Despite Hughes wanting to have rested him more, I don`t think this has done Tugay any harm and perhaps has even helped him as he seems to be getting better as the season progresses. Hughes compares him to the likes of Sheringham and perhaps even himself playing until he was 38, thinking that it will become more common to see players playing on at an older age. No doubt the club will negotiate a new contract for him but Hughes has said he will keep him hanging and make him hungry for the contract…Tugay, Tugay, Tugay!! Click Here for Full Article

Hopefully Thursday`s performance will rub off on Sunday when we face an enthusiastic Aston Villa on Sunday. Click Here for Full Article Hughes feels it`s a game where we could get a result and get back to winning ways even though it is always hard against Villa. Click Here for Full Article He also thinks that we have had some decent results following UEFA games and he is right. We both lost our last game so will be on a bit of a downer from that but also both determined to bounce back. They might see us playing midweek as a negative as they will have rested but I believe for us it could be a plus as we will be buzzing and more motivated than tired.Despite our injury problems of late Hughes is staying optimistic and feels we have a strong enough team to cope. We have Savage out for a couple of weeks or so at least I think, obviously Emerton`s been missing a couple of weeks and Hughes does not want to risk him until fully fit. Then there is Roberts out for up to four months and Ryan Nelsen and Steven Reid already being long-term. The club pride themselves on preparation and the way they train so hopefully those standing in like Aaron Mokoena will fill the void nicely.

Like everyone I was chuffed for Francis Jeffers when he scored that penalty on Thursday. Hughes has heaped praise on him and has great faith in him just like the rest of the club. He is now being tipped to be rewarded for his efforts of late with a starting role tomorrow and no doubt he will try seize the opportunity, especially with Roberts a long term casualty and you could see by the way he grabbed the ball to take the penalty that he believes in himself. He deserves his chance and will hopefully show that the last two seasons do not reflect his ability.

Sunday 5th November 06
I`m happy to see that Tugay has enjoyed his time at the club and he has invited the bosses to prevent him becoming a free agent and negotiate a new contract in January. At this age players tend to get only one-year if they are lucky but I see no harm in offering him a two to three-year deal as even as a bit player he could provide some magic and he would be valuable to the team and inspire. Also if he wanted to, he could possibly work towards coaching or working behind the scenes. He has only played for three teams and he is openly saying he wants to finish his career with us. He is in great shape and feels he has looked after himself and if he was to play until 40 he thinks it would be easier for him than Sheringham as he is a midfielder. He has also said that he would love to score a goal at 40 like he did on Thursday against FC Basel. I hope he scores many fine goals between now and then.Rumour has it that Hughes is going to renew his interest in Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock. Although we did not get him in summer as they wanted Lucas Neill in a swap deal, we might be more successful in January as he has not featured much this term with only one start. Maybe a swap deal could be tried again with Neill as he is adamant on leaving. If not perhaps he could be a possible successor to Neill?

Today was not meant to be. We needed that luck and it was definitely eluding us. The penalty for the first goal was crazy as Andre Ooijer had no chance of preventing it hitting his arm despite trying to move it whilst jumping in front of the cross. That is quite a few penalties given against Ooijer now and feel sorry for him as not all his fault. At the other end Stilian Petrov`s handball that was not given was far more obvious when he jumped in the wall defending the free kick and raised his arm for it to hit his elbow. The referee must have been blind as he could not have been positioned any better. Click Here for Full Article Hughes feels that perhaps we played a little into their hands playing too many high balls to the strikers and thinks some of the second half play was not too intelligent whilst trying to edge back into it.

That`s three in a row we have lost in the league now and although we are home next week, of all the opposition we could have, we face Manchester United so it will be hard to bounce back to winning ways. Having said that though we did beat them both times last season and have only lost one of our last six encounters which was back in November 2003 so statistically it is in our favour and they have got to slip up eventually so why not to us? Watch this space…
The Journalist

Writer: Walker Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday November 7 2006

Time: 9:58PM

 

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