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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

13th-19th November 06



Monday 13th November 06
For weeks now the question has been will he, won`t he leave as far as Lucas Neill is usually mentioned. But today he is making news for a different reason, this time due to withdrawing from the Australian squad that play tomorrow night. Click Here for Full Article He suffered slight hamstring injury against Manchester United on Saturday. It is thought to be coming from his back as it will tighten then loosen itself. Hopefully he will be sorted by Sunday to face Tottenham Hotspur.

From the day Shabani Nonda arrived I was looking forward to seeing him play. He has a fantastic track record, yet unfortunately despite playing well for us he is not getting them goals that he deserves. Despite this I still think he is a key player and it is good to see that he wants to make his loan spell permanent. Click Here for Full Article He seems like a genuine guy and it is good he likes the fans, club etc. He admits himself that he expected more than the one goal so far but he seems confident enough that the goals will come, especially as he is favourite in partnering Benni McCarthy who fortunately is getting goals, as Jason Roberts is out long term. I have faith in Nonda and feel he is pulling his weight.

Saturday`s loss made it four league losses on the trot and that is the first time that has happened since November 2003. I`m sure our fortunes will change as we are better than that and like Andre Ooijer I think that this is just a temporary blip and we will get back to winning ways. He does not deny that it is a concern but he feels that if we keep playing the way we did against Manchester United, the points will start being gained against other teams. It will be a huge test of character for the lads but we all know they are better than this and have deserved more.

Tuesday 14th November 06
I was pleased to hear that Birmingham are willing to sell David Dunn as he was very good for us when he was here and I`m sure many of you like myself will welcome back his creativity in the middle. He shouldn`t cost us too much if we are able to recapture him as he is close to being a free agent, that is if a move is made!

I feel we have a good team but perhaps we do not have the squad depth come injuries. Hughes does not appear to want anyone in January and I feel perhaps he might be right. I would welcome perhaps a couple of additions but when we get them missing key players back in a couple of months from their injuries it will be like new signings alone and Hughes feels then we can give the second half of the season a real go. They say football is a game of two halves so that surely must also apply to the two halves of the season.

Our young defender Andy Taylor is due to return to us after his final game on loan at Crewe on Saturday. He has impressed during his month there and they are keen to keep him for another month to cover their injury crisis. Click Here for Full Article He has impressed so much that he would keep out Billy Jones, the defender he is currently covering due to injury. It is thought though that Hughes has other plans for the youngster but if he is not to feature for us it might do him good to be getting regular first team football.After finding out the end of last week that the 2,500 additional tickets away to Feyenoord in two weeks had sold out, officials have since applied for more and a decision is thought to be made today if to us having more or not. We want to get as many people out there as we can behind our boys so the more tickets we get the better.

I was sad to read that during the United game on Saturday some of our fans mistook a lad and his cousin for United fans when the cousin was seen snapping the United team after scoring. Click Here for Full Article The lad we are talking about is Lee Brotherston, a life long supporter and son of former Rovers hero Noel Brotherston who amassed 369 appearances for us during a decade in the seventies and eighties. It must have been even sadder as it was a week before what would have been the late Noel`s 50th birthday who died at such a young age of 38 and his son and family would surely have liked to mark the occasion in remembrance enjoying the match and not being thrown out as potential trouble makers. Why do people not listen to reason and cause trouble when a listening ear to a simple problem could have ignored this. I hope they get an apology and perhaps some form of compensation or a form of token gesture perhaps; tickets to the away Feyenoord game springs to mind ha!

Wednesday 15th November 06
It appears that Jason Roberts is healing nicely after the operation he had on his metatarsal injury last month and his programme is well under way. However he is not setting himself a return date as some heal quicker and slower than others. Click Here for Full Article He knew the problem as soon as it happened in the West Ham game as he sustained the same injury with the opposite foot six years ago so knows what to expect. He had that one pinned and has since had no problems so hopefully this will be the same. It is one of them things and as it`s a bone injury there is nothing anyone can do to speed it as only time can cure. I hope he can return with no further problems as he only made four starts before his groin injury and he was starting to come back good from that before this injury. All the best Roberts.

After saying Monday how much I liked Nonda following his comments about wishing to stay, it has since been revealed today that a deal is in place to buy him at the end of the loan should he wish to stay. Hughes likes him, I like him and I`m sure many of you do and he could go one to become a Rovers favourite. Click Here for Full ArticleI`m impressed with Jason Brown`s attitude towards being number two and having to wait for his chance to shine. Click Here for Full Article Most keepers would be moaning about not getting there chance and being wasted, yet he feels that being here alone is an achievement and he is improving his game just by being around the players and Learning through Brad Friedel. In the short time he`s been here he feels he has got better and will happily wait to become Friedel`s eventual successor even though it could be many years. Hopefully he will still have this same attitude in the near future and we will then hopefully be getting the best replacement possible once Friedel has called it a day.

I have been impressed with the ticket schemes the top dogs have been coming up with. Those of you that have been going to the league games that are obviously not season ticket holders will know about The Card scheme. A sticker is received for every home game that is attended and if three have been attended, you can get a £10 discount on the normal £25 when we face Spurs on Sunday. Click Here for Full Article Good old Mr Williams has come good again but no doubt it is extra cash for him. I believe that he is trying to do fans a favour but people will be flooding in just like the Bolton match where tickets were the same price. An extra 10,000 fans attended in total bringing in an extra £150,000; I wouldn`t mind a slice of that cash!

Thursday 16th November 06
It seems that we are not the only ones to appreciate Ryan Nelsen`s abilities as he is being lined up for back to back player of the year awards for New Zealand. Click Here for Full Article There will be an awards dinner on Thursday November 23rd and he will be up against Hibernian striker Chris Killen and RKC Waalwijk midfielder Ivan Vicelich. No doubt it would be a boost for Nelsen and hopefully should he win it, boost him with his recovery and come back.I was not the least bit surprised to hear that Hughes is being tipped to replace Sir Alex Ferguson when he finally calls it a day at Manchester United, maybe a little that it was Aaron Mokoena though! Click Here for Full Article Obviously I would want to see Sparky remain for many a year past the day Ferguson finally retires but you cannot blame him if the opportunity arose and he grasped it firmly. He`s done wonders with our team in the time he`s been here and imagine what he could do with the quality of United and the money available for spending. If he did go there, I`d hope he didn`t poach our key players. Hughes is still young in managing terms and I have no doubt he will get better. Hopefully we can go on to achieve great things and he could transform us into a great, starting with the UEFA Cup!

Wael Gomaa has spent a couple of days training with us this week and has since gone home. Click Here for Full Article We already know that he has a vast amount of quality and experience and I personally think we should get him despite already having a number of defenders as Lucas Neill looks certain to leave and Andy Todd appears not to be wanted so should they go we will then be short of numbers. Even if they did not, it surely could not hurt having him as he might prove to be a great coup (a la Nelsen!) and provide extra competition for defence. Also I thought that it was quite a sure agreement we had with Gomaa that we would have him in January. We will have to wait and see.

Like Hughes I am hoping that Robbie Savage will be back against Tottenham on Sunday following his thigh injury. I think we miss him when he is out as he has great drive and determination. I don`t think Lucas Neill will be considered though as he is still having problems with his hamstring injury from last week against Manchester United. I feel no matter what we will have a good enough team out there to achieve something.Friday 17th November 06
After applying for more tickets to the away Feyenoord game, a small number of additional tickets were secured but these went immediately to be dispatched to those that had already applied for tickets. It is a shame we could not get any more as they are in high demand and it is great to get a huge following out there. Still, it is still going to be our biggest away European following and so it should be as it is a good time to be a Rovers fan.

The league has not been kind to us as of late with four defeats on the trot now. I`m not sure how we have managed to lose all these as they have not reflected our play and we deserved to have got some points during the last four games. But that is football and after a bad run you can only hope things will get better. Hughes is hoping that we can get back to winning ways on Sunday and it is good to see that he has not let our mounting injury problems be used as an excuse. He is right in the fact that although it is a poor run of results, it is not a poor run of performances. The Bolton and Manchester United defeats were possibly two of our finest performances this season, yet fate was not on our side I guess. If we carry on playing well then we have got to start winning. Hughes is hoping to emulate last season with a fine second half and feels the welcoming of senior players from injury will put us in good shape.

Saturday 18th November 06
Andrew Taylor has been enjoying a good time at Crewe Alexandra on loan and has said that if he was to be coming back to us to play in the reserves then he would prefer to stay at Crewe and play first team football which you can not blame him for as everyone wants to be playing first team football. Taylor is not sure if his loan spell will be extended or not as it is between the two managers and if Hughes feels we need cover then he will be coming back which I guess will mean reserve team football for the lad. Whatever happens I hope it works out okay for him.

We are said to be linked with Derby County`s young defender Lewin Nyatanga along with Fulham, Portsmouth and Sunderland. He`s a fine young talent but I wonder why we are being linked with him if we were meant to be supposedly keen on Wael Gomaa? The obviously mentioned "young talent!" has to be the key. I`m sure all will become clear though.I`m not sure if it is wide knowledge amongst football fans but as of next year there will be more Sky money invested and as we know this will affect Premiership clubs the most as the majority of Sky games shown are the week in week out Premier League matches and there is also Prem Plus showing additional pay per view Premier matches. Obviously this puts pressure on top flight managers as they are expected to deliver. Hughes thinks this is a real issue as teams are desperate to get into the top flight and those already in it do not want to fall out but as we know there will always be three teams that do, sometimes against the odds. Hughes did his pro licence alongside Ian Dowie and as we know he was the first to be axed. Hughes thinks he is a talented manager and will bounce back. I myself think he should have been given a bit longer in the job and should we find ourselves in a similar position to Charlton I would hope Hughes would be given a chance to turn our fortunes.

It is hard to believe but Brad Friedel still feels he has a lot to learn. I`m not sure what as he is well into his prime but I guess you are always learning in life. With Jason Brown and Peter Enckelman behind him he knows that he will have to keep on top of his game and said that sometimes you think you know it all and then get bitten on the backside. He knows the competition is what you need and that as a goalkeeper you get praised and hammered just like Paul Robinson has been of late for England, who he faces on Sunday at home against Tottenham. He rates him as a goalkeeper and that there is a reason why he is the England number one and that he is too good to let criticism get to him. It is good that Friedel is also confident in the squad as he feels other than the Aston Villa defeat we have not under performed and we have quality strikers who will get the goals that we have been lacking of late. I`m sure he is right in saying that we will be bagging three points quite soon, hopefully against Spurs on Sunday. I`m confident we will get something at least.I was not the least bit surprised that Sir Alex Ferguson is an admirer of Tugay. Hughes commented to Ferguson after last weeks match that if he was ten years younger then he would be playing for United to which Ferguson agreed! Hughes is right that he is a one off and different to any other holding midfielder. We are very lucky to have him. It`s a shame he did not bag us another wonder goal against United. Ferguson thinks that he could play for any team in the premiership or in fact the world but hopefully that won`t happen and he will continue to want to end his days at Ewood Park.

Hughes is concerned about our defensive options tomorrow as Lucas Neill is out with his hamstring and Zurab Khizanishvili is suspended. Andy Todd is being considered for his first start since the opening week of the season and Stephane Henchoz is also a possibility. Click Here for Full Article I would go with Henchoz starting as he has not featured much since being back here and he was a good player for us during his last spell. I say give him a chance and if he does not impress then replace him with Todd or something.

I always thought that we did not sign Mido in the summer as he snubbed us but Hughes has now revealed that he priced himself out of a move; hence Hughes scrapping a deal. Click Here for Full Article I am glad he did as we then went in for long term target Benni McCarthy who I would have chosen any day and what a bargain and great player he is and proving to be. Missing Mido was no big loss as he has far from impressed me at Spurs and I am hoping he does not tomorrow. Benni on the other hand is our top scorer with seven goals and on top of that he seems a decent chap as well.Sunday 19th November 06
Hughes believes that Home games could be the key to another successful season after loosing only three home games last season. He wants to turn the good home performances we have had into wins and despite loosing at home to both Bolton and Manchester United, he wants more performances like them which are questionably our best of the season. He wants to emulate our UEFA home success we have had this campaign and do it in the league which I think we are more than capable of doing.

Although I like Lucas Neill and would like him to stay, I am getting used to the idea that he will go and if he does then I`m sure there will be someone who could and would want to step in and fill his void. Hughes has warned him that the grass is not always greener on the other side, using Craig Bellamy as an example. Hughes thinks that Bellamy will come good but it is plain for everyone to see that life was better for him at Ewood Park. Hughes is conceding that Neill will not re-sign but thinks it is sometimes best to stick what you know and be an influential player. I agree and also although you can be playing well for your current club and country, moving on to bigger things can prove a downfall with a player perhaps not being quite as good as he believes or as good as was at a previous club.Like Brad Friedel I have been impressed with Mark Hughes` managerial style and philosophy. He has worked wonders since taking over from Graeme Souness little over two years ago and as you might be aware I have never rated him too highly as a manager anyway. He has brought in a great backroom staff and as well as bringing in some good players he also knows how to make them better and believe in themselves. He also appears to me as quite a passionate and amusing chap. He has saved us from relegation and now not only got us in Europe but also by far given us our best European run. I think this alone has given him the makings of a Rovers legend. I predict good things for us and even if we do not achieve what we perhaps deserve, will establish ourselves as a serious Premiership force and he is the man to take us forward.

Today`s result was not quite what we were looking for but I happy enough to accept a 1-1 draw as at least it was not a fifth successive defeat. I can see why Hughes has slammed referee Phil Dowd for sending off Tugay as he had no intent on bringing down Hossam Ghaly and was a genuine attempt to get across him; it`s ironic that Ghaly was later sent off himself. Talking of Tugay all I can say is WOW what a goal. It was graceful and the way that he composed himself to hit the 25-yard volley was first class. Hopefully he can score some more like that between now and forty and am not surprised he celebrated so excitedly like he did. The sending off ruined what should have been a fantastic day for him and it for sure turned the game. It is a game we could have won and again another penalty decision was not given our way when Mido hand balled. What do we need to do to be awarded these genuine penalty cries…answers on a post card ha!?
The Journalist

Writer: Walker Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday November 22 2006

Time: 11:40PM

 

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