20th-26th November 06
I guess Sunday`s game against Tottenham has finally got Hughes wanting to back video replay technology Click Here for Full Article. He has never been a promoter of it but now wants to meet referees' chief Keith Hackett to discuss it following our 1-1 draw. Hughes is right that when there are penalty appeals etc there are Hughes pauses where the player`s debate with the referee and during this time a replay decision could be made. He believes that video replays will eventually be introduced but we will see. There has been talk of it for years and still nothing. I once heard a reason for it not to happen was that decisions eventually even out during the season for and against teams but I personally think this is a silly argument and the correct decisions should always be made!
Following rumours that we are interested in David Beckham I thought it was a laugh and thought nothing of it. Stories are popping up now saying that local rivals Bolton are to rival us for his signature along with Tottenham and Newcastle. It will be interesting to see what will happen but I still feel nothing will come of it. Then again it is not unrealistic as we are a good club and big things are expected for the future and after all Beckham is not the golden boy he once was and we could stand a chance. If we were to sign him, I would be more excited about the prospect of potential signings that would want to follow him and be associated; now that would be exciting.
It has been said for a while that Hughes might make a move for old Rovers favourite David Dunn but there has been doubts cast over his fitness. As an alternative Hughes is eyeing Jason Koumas who I think West Brom might be a little reluctant to sell as they are running a fine promotion campaign and will want strengthen not let their key players go. Hughes knows Koumas from his time managing the Welsh squad so he could be tempted to make the move but following the knowledge that even more money will be in the Premiership next season due to more Sky TV money, a decent offer could understandably be seen as small change in comparison to what lies ahead financially should Brom be promoted.
We have added another goalkeeper to our books by the name of Bjorn Bussman who was Cologne's highly-rated under-17 goalkeeper Click Here for Full Article. They are apparently far from happy that he chose to come to us as they made him a fair offer with a view to becoming a senior player yet I guess being with us seemed too good to ignore and too right. He won`t cost us nothing other than compensation should he turn pro. I`m not sure where he would fit in as Brad Friedel believes he is still learning and is a fine keeper so perhaps he has years left in his tank. Then we have Jason Brown as numero dos (that is number two for anyone who knows no Spanish!) and he intends to go nowhere and bide his time until he gets his chance. So I guess Cologne's highly-rated under-17 goalkeeper Bjorn Bussman is being summoned as one for the future which is always a good thing and he will no doubt learn a lot here and continue to improve.I still find it harsh that Tugay was sent off against Tottenham for what genuinely appears to be an accidental foul. It spoilt what should have been a great day for one of our elegant favourites following his brilliant volley which what could possibly be goal of the season. It is crazy that it was deemed as a professional foul and a yellow would have been more than fair. So Hughes is rightfully going to appeal the decision and also argue the fact that he was not the last man as there were two covering defenders Click Here for Full Article. I worry that with the way the FA run the show, Hughes call will fall on deaf ears and we will miss him in the next game.
Crewe Alexandra are hopeful of keeping Andy Taylor following the expiration of his loan spell. They appear to be confident and should Hughes have no current plans for the youngster and have sufficient cover I think it would be a good thing as he will obviously be getting regular first team football which will benefit us surely. Should we end up needing him at all then surely we can recall him and hopefully he would fall into place nicely.
Tuesday 21st November 06
Hughes must be on the same wave length as me and has allowed Andy Taylor to remain at Crewe Alexandra for a further month. This will benefit everyone and as I have said he will be getting a regular run around and keep up his match fitness.
Our left back Michael Gray is following Hughes` call in backing the introduction of video replays. He believes that as rugby and cricket have the third eye in the stand, football should also. He believes like many of us that video replays would have just as quickly shown that Tugay did not commit a professional foul and was purely accidental. I`m not sure how people will react to this technology but I think it will not only give the right decisions but also cut out the cheating and hopefully punish the cheats as well. (Not that I`m saying there was any intent or cheating with the Tugay incident as just one of them things)I can`t wait until Thursday when we face Feyenoord in the UEFA Cup. We will have our largest crowd out there we have had away in Europe and no doubt many more watching at the Ewood Park Blues Bar. There is a special meal deal where you can get a curry and a bevy for just £8 plus the usual selection of poppadums, naan bread, pilau rice and pickles Click Here for Full Article. The thought of it is making me hungry and now I fancy a chicken korma. Even better if you are a season ticket holder, you can get 25% off of this treat meaning you will pay just £6 giving you a bargain and making it taste that bit better!
Hughes has again spoke of how he feels video technology will help to make correct and important decisions in the big games. Those opposing the decision believe that the technology would slow down the game yet Hughes has argued that a decision could be made within 10-15 seconds using the replays and that everyone will be happy with decision as it would have been looked at fairly. Hughes thinks that Premiership football has week in week out coverage, we could be the first to use it and then lead the way for other countries. He has denied there is a lack of respect for the referees as they have a hard job and it is a high paced game yet he has highlighted the fact that they are paid quite a lot of money to get decisions right and that managers and players performances are judged, just as referees should be and if they do not perform then it should be looked at. I agree. I feel sorry for referees but they know what`s expected and have to cope so replays will no doubt help them won`t they?
It is a real blow that Tugay`s red was not overturned and he will now be serving suspension Click Here for Full Article
Lucas Neill is still thought to be a doubt for Thursday`s UEFA Cup match against Feyenoord on Thursday. As we do not have a game the weekend it looks as though Hughes is going to rest him as a precaution so will have longer to recover. As Neill will not be playing it looks as though Michael Gray will fill in again Click Here for Full Article. Hughes has been praising his attitude as whether he is selected to play or not he still has a positive attitude with training and when he had his chance on Sunday he played well. He played well against Tottenham and he looks to still be very reliable.Christmas could have come early for some of you lucky fans or perhaps you could buy someone the perfect Christmas gift. You will soon be able to buy 2006-2007 half season tickets Click Here for Full Article. Juniors will cost £49 and young adults and seniors will start at £95 and adult prices from £145. The season ticket will cover ten games starting from Liverpool on Boxing Day. I`m sure it will not be long until they are all snapped up so get in there quick people.
Wednesday 22nd November 06
I was surprised to find out that Gamst Pedersen had broken a rib against Manchester United yet continued to play on to face Tottenham and he looks set to play on Thursday too Click Here for Full Article. He has been having pain killing injections to numb the pain. I bet it isn`t easy running about for ninety minutes with a broken rib.
We are set to loan out another of our young potential stars for the future. Eighteen year old Keith Treacy is set to join Stockport on a one month loan. Again like the others, it will be good to get first team experience and I am sure he will definitely be coming back sometime as he is a good little player and Hughes rates him.
Thursday`s UEFA match against Feyenoord is to be shown on Eurosport tomorrow at 19.45. The kind people at Eurosport have been in contact with this information and as usual Tim Sherwood will be giving his no nonsense analysis of the match Click Here for Full Article. I will definitely be sat taking a break from this and watching it. If any of you are interested in watching our next opponents Nancy in action to get a preview of what we will be facing on Wednesday December 13th then you can watch Nancy take on Feyenoord on Thursday 30th November.
After filling in for Lucas Neill as captain against Spurs on Sunday, Andre Ooijer is poised to captain again tomorrow against Feyenoord. He is no stranger to captaincy as he also captained Holland last week when they faced us English on their own soil. Again he will be on home soil as we play Feyenoord in Rotterdam and Hughes mad him captain as he thinks he is an important member of the team. Hughes admires the way he has settled into the squad and feels he is an influential player with captain qualities.Hughes is confident that we can continue our fine form in Europe against Feyenoord and put the game to bed early and get maximum points. He believes that he has a team of players who do not know when they are beat which is quite true as they give it their all. He is looking forward to the match and expects a great atmosphere which hopefully there will be. Our fans that made the trip will no doubt be heard especially as it will be our largest European away attendance to date.
Tim Sherwood believes that we will do well in Europe as we are playing good football and have the quality to succeed and unlock defences Click Here for Full Article. He is right in the fact that we have overall had that little bit of extra luck which we haven`t in the league. Hopefully we will start getting some of that luck domestically and climb our way up the table.
Reports in Greece are claiming that we are being linked with Olympiakos' Cypriot international forward Yiannakis Okkas. He impressed last week when his Greece faced Germany and he scored their goal in the 1-1 draw. He has six-months remaining on his contract so he should not cost us much. Hughes is also thought to have requested that he fly out to Ewood to undertake a medical with a view to making an offer in January should all be okay. A while back I would have said why get another striker but now I think that perhaps it will not be too bad as we are not getting them goals lately. Maybe perhaps Jeffers needs a bit more time on the pitch between now and January and he might be able to prove himself given more of a run about.
After being announced that Andre Ooijer was to captain tomorrow it is now said that he is 50/50 to play as he picked up a knock against Tottenham on Sunday. It is bruised and bleeding and should he not be available then it looks as though Andy Todd will step in and he will be partnered in the middle by Zurab Khizanishvili who was not available against Tottenham due to injury; he would therefore be replacing the ineligible Stephane Henchoz Click Here for Full Article.
Thursday 23rd November 06
We are today being linked with yet another striker. He is Atletico Nacional Medellin striker Luis Alberto Perea and should we move for him, we will be facing competition from Charlton Athletic. Hughes is said to want him to appear on trial as to check him out and he is only a youngster at 20 so I guess he will be willing to prove and perhaps have potential.After becoming subject to a loan move yesterday our talented midfield youngster Keith Treacy has set off to league two side Stockport to get that all important experience. This will no doubt be a good coup for Stockport as he is a very talented young lad and will bring a lot to the club. I hope they don`t think it will ever be anymore than a loan as Hughes surely would not let him go as he really rates him. They have looked after Tony Kane whilst being on loan there and the staff at Ewood are more than pleased to let them impress again with Treacy.
Tonight`s 0-0 draw with Feyenoord was not the result neither the performance I was hoping for but we are still in the driving seat Click Here for Full Article. We did not look our usual selves and to be honest I found it a little boring at times. It started good and I felt we were in for a good night but then for the majority of the first half and periods of the second it looked as though it was going to be Feyenoord`s night. Anyway we will need to move on and focus on our very busy December schedule. We have Fulham at home December 2nd, Charlton away on 5th and Newcastle on 9th before facing Nancy on Wednesday 13th where we will be looking for a win to win the group.
As you would expect Hughes was delighted with the fact that we had qualified for the next stage of the UEFA Cup and even more so that luck was on our side that a penalty was not given against us. Hughes believes that we controlled the first thirty minutes or so and that it was an all round good performance. I have to admit that I felt we did not have the spirit that we have had in the previous Cup matches yet I guess we did well to keep them out and were unlucky not to snatch it at the end through Robbie Savage. Hughes would have liked to have obviously won it but now he feels he can concentrate on getting some points in the league and too right as we don`t want to be getting ourselves into bother as we are only three points above relegation; that said though at least we have a game in hand against Watford at some stage and I would hope for us to win that with no disrespect. It`s all well having a decent team but once you get sucked into a struggle it is harder said than done to get out of it.
Friday 24th November 06
It looks as though Hughes is looking to add to our attacking options in January as he has invited Olympiakos striker Yiannakis Okkas along for a trial and the player is said to be delighted as he feels The Premier League is the best championship about even ahead of the Spanish Primera Liga. His trial will take place over five days between 18th and 23rd December and undertake a medical and if all be plain sailing we should sign him in January. I`m not sure what Hughes has planned with the existing strikers we have. I am starting to have doubts about Nonda becoming permanent. I like him and think he works well but perhaps Hughes might be changing his mind about a permanent deal. I would like to keep him but for his own sake he will have to start scoring them vital goals as there is no room for sentiment.Later today Olympiakos confirmed that they will let Yiannakis Okkas attend a trial with us but the dates will be between 20th and 24th December instead. Okkas appears very excited at the prospect of playing for us as he is an admirer of the club and is aware that we have many great players over the years with a good club history Click Here for Full Article. He is also an admirer of Hughes and thinks he is a great sporting personality. This no doubt will help his cause as these are words that I`m sure Hughes likes to hear. Like many players wanting to play in our league he states it is his dream and hopefully he will do well and perhaps go on to be a big player for us. We will have to wait and see.
Whilst I was watching us play Feyenoord I could not help but find it slightly funny that Gamst Pedersen got something splashed over him in the first half whilst getting the ball for a throw-in. It was not the fact that it happened, it just looked like he was set to go down but then changed his mind as did not want to be seen as a wimp; then again I might be wrong. Anyway it turns out that someone threw beer and the plastic cup at him which is not acceptable and should not be happening. At the end of the day it is still assault and if a member of the crowd is able to do that then imagine what else they could do, it is still assault. He has chosen not to follow it up though as he was not hurt but just had sticky eyes from getting beer in them. He said it could have been worse but it should not happen and he`s right. Whoever did it is foolish and secondly what a waste of beer!
Referring back to the Gamst beer incident, despite Hughes and Gamst playing it down UEFA have decided to investigate as the incident was mentioned by the UEFA match delegate and a case has been opened and dealt with by the control and disciplinary panel. I think they should follow this up even if they do not find the person responsible as it shows these incidents are to be taken seriously and even if they were able to fine the club (Feyenoord) then fans might think twice next time as they will be aware that it would damage the club and that action could get taken against the people responsible if caught.Saturday 25th November 06
It looks set to be a quiet weekend for us as an agreement could not be made as of when to play Watford so we do not play until next weekend Click Here for Full Article. This is the ideal opportunity for players such as Lucas Neill to recover from injury and the rest of the team to work on their fitness and do extra training.
I like Robbie Savages` attitude in saying that he thinks we can go one better than Middlesbrough and win the UEFA Cup; don`t we all Robbie. He wonders how we are performing so well in Europe yet things are not happening in the league. I think perhaps it is the fact that we worked so hard for Europe last season and they are desperate to perform so league form is suffering as a result as does perhaps the lads do not have the same drive. Savage is frustrated at the fact we do not have a weekend game as confidence is high following Europe and as he has missed a few games through injury, the last thing he wants is a break and he wants us to take our European form and mentality into the league. He is pleased with the way Europe is going and thinks that if we keep it up we can go a long way and I believe he is right.
Our next four league games are Fulham home, Charlton away, Newcastle home and Reading away. I would hope for us to come away from these games with at least a couple of wins and no defeats. No disrespect to any of them especially Reading who have had a flying start and Newcastle who despite struggling a bit are a good team and I would think with the players they have will start heading in the right direction. It`s just after theses matches we have a few tricky ones and if we are to improve in the league and play as well as we have done when results have not gone our way then we will need to be gaining from these matches.Sunday 26th November 06
Good news for Ryan Nelsen as he has won the supreme men`s award at the New Zealand Soccer`s Annual Dinner in Auckland. The title he won was Nike International Men`s Player of the Year and hopefully this will be a big moral boost in his recovery process as he also won the title last year. As far as I know he is healing well and hopefully we will have him back sooner in the New Year rather than later. He has said he is ahead of schedule and has made peace with his injury but he is not allowed to play no sooner than sixteen weeks after the operation which I guess must be frustrating for him. He is doing basically everything normal in training apart from sprinting but he is not far from this.
Charlton, Manchester City, Bolton and Newcastle look set to rival us in moving for Olympiakos striker Yannis Okkas. From what he has said he appears keen to come on trial with us and hopefully his admiration for the club and Hughes is genuine and not him kissing butt just to get here in the top English elite. We also face competition from Real Sociedad and Racing Santander but as far as I know no other club has made a move for him yet. I guess with January coming up there will be many players being linked with us and other top clubs but until anyone is wearing our shirt I take it all with a pinch of salt. I wait to see what else is going to be mentioned with David Beckham as I have found all the hype of a move and where he will go quite amusing!