Things are looking good as far as Steven Reid`s comeback is concerned. It was said last week that he is progressing well and now he has been told that he can up his rehabilitation and could be back early next month. Obviously this is a boost for Mark Hughes but when asked when he will be back Hughes said that it is down to the medical team and Reid himself. I`m sure after doing nothing for six weeks he will be determined to come along as far as he can, let`s just hope he aint gone and got fat ha.
Things are starting to get interesting as the transfer window fast approaches and we are being linked with another two potential targets. As usual Hughes is quite tight lipped with what he has planned which I guess is the best way to be as you do not want all the other clubs knowing your business and trying to poach potential targets. The players in question are Roma striker Vincenzo Montella, and Sparta Prague's midfielder Tomas Sivok who I hear has made quite a name for himself. Hughes has played down these reports though saying that it could be a possibility but he has many targets. For now I guess he will just keep us guessing.
Another player being mentioned is Levante midfielder Felix Ettien who will be a free agent come the summer. He is also being linked with Fulham yet Levante are thought to be keen and calm on keeping him though but then again we were as well with Lucas Neill so what you want is not always what you get.
Saturday`s win was a great result for us as it was well over due. Hopefully it will not be another two months until our next win. Charlton away tomorrow will hopefully be our next win Click Here for Full Article and I will be disappointed if we don`t win as the way the season has panned out we should look to win these kind of fixtures; then again no match is easy. Hughes is hoping that we can go on to emulate Saturdays win and string some results together as a couple more wins this month will give us a better points tally than that we had last year in December and look where we finished then. Like Hughes said, play like we did on Saturday and it will be hard for any team to beat us.
Obviously when Tugay is not available to play we are all going to miss him as he is a fans favourite and he can also turn a game instantly with a little bit of magic. However David Bentley did a fine job at filling in for him at the weekend and it is thought that he might keep that role come Tuesday night against Charlton, the team he has fond memories against last year as he scored his first goal for us which ended up being the 3-2 winner. Hughes likes Bentley as he is a technically gifted player who always wants to be involved and have the ball and playing the holding position sees you always being involved. Perhaps he could eventually replace Tugay in this position, who knows. Bentley is right in saying that there are no easy games and I hope the rest of the lads remember that.Hughes has spoke about how diving has become a very common part of the game these days and how different it is to back in his playing days. He said that back then if you were to be fouled you would be straight up onto your feet to confront the fouling player and if you did stay down the fans would boo you and think you`re a wimp, yet now they scream out for free kicks or penalties instead. He feels it is quite common due to European football and the foreigners that come over are use to using things to their advantage and as they are use to it they continue to do so. I think it is a disgrace when people cheat and although it can go to your team`s advantage which all fans want, I would hate for us to win via cheating as it is wrong and we don`t want to be tagged as cheats.
Tuesday 5th December 06
Phil Bardsley who has been on loan from Manchester United to Rangers is one of the latest Sparky interests as he will be returning to United come January after falling on bad terms with the Rangers boss. United want to loan him out and Hughes is interested in having him as a replacement for Lucas Neill when he eventually leaves.
Hughes now believes that Shabani Nonda and Benni McCarthy are starting to forge a great partnership following starting the last six games together. Hughes himself was a mighty fine striker and has no doubt been patient as it has not always gone our way this season and our table position shows this. He understands that there is more pressure on strikers than other positions as you get use to playing certain ways at previous teams and obviously the pressure is on you to get goals as well. Also coming from a different country can be daunting and can take a while to settle. Benni has had the goals to settle him yet Nonda has found it hard yet I am sure his work rate will eventually warrant him the goals he deserves and win him a permanent Rovers deal?I am disappointed that we lost to Charlton tonight especially the way we did right at the end in injury time Click Here for Full Article. It was not the best of games and we both failed to really look like getting more than a draw. I feel this is a huge blow as like I said yesterday that I would have been disappointed not to have won it following Saturday`s fine win against a recently impressive Fulham. We need to be getting better results as the previous good performances that have not got the results count for nothing in the table. Perhaps we are missing that something in the squad and hopefully come January we will find that something as well as welcome back the seniors from injury that we have so obviously been missing at times. We will have to look ahead to Newcastle at the weekend and really go for it as we don`t want any more teams creeping up on us and overtaking. Newcastle have matched what we have and are level on point`s one place behind waiting to pounce!
Wednesday 6th December 06
We have yet another injury worry to put a spanner in the works and it is the same old hamstring injury again. Brett Emerton looks set to be out for at least a couple of weeks after pulling it Click Here for Full Article against Charlton during our 1-0 defeat on Tuesday. It appears to be the same as last time but Hughes is hoping that it is nothing serious. I hope not as we need everyone ship shape if we are to continue in Europe and move away from danger in the table.
It is no secret that Gamst Pedersen has not been performing to the standard that we have expected and got use to in past seasons and he is more than aware of this after telling of how he is starting to feel the pressure. His latest outing saw him being replaced against Charlton after squandering some chances and despite playing through the pain of a rib injury which I give him credit for, he acknowledges the fact that he has not been performing but knows he has always done a good job in the past. He has been very professional about it though and sees Saturday`s home game to Newcastle as another game and chance to get on the right track.We now have confirmation of our FA Cup third round match against Everton. The game is to be played away at Goodison Park at 3pm on Sunday 7th January and I for one can not wait as I love the Cup`s.
Thursday 7th December 06
This season has seen the top dogs at Rovers been quite kind to the fans and I had no doubt that they would come good with some form of Christmas bonus for the paying fans. Our home match against Middlesbrough will see tickets reduced to £15 for adults and £5 for children and senior citizens anywhere in the stand for both sets of supporters. I`m quite sure this should sell quite well as it is the Christmas period and more people should be able to attend to give our boys a good home backing.
Don`t worry though all you season ticket holders as you have also had benefits with Europe and they will come good again giving you an exclusive discount on tickets for the last 32 home leg clash in the UEFA Cup. Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas.
I always like to be aware of how our Youth set up are doing and unfortunately they have not had a good week. They went crashing out 5-1 to Reading Youth at the third-round played at the Madejski Stadium. I hope the Rovers seniors do better than this come January in the FA Cup third round tie against Everton, which will be a tough challenge but one we can win. They have been doing well in Europe so I hope they can do the same in this cup.Friday 8th December 06
In the summer when Liverpool were after Lucas Neill they were reluctant to part with Stephen Warnock as a swap deal or part exchange. It is now being said that they are willing to do business now with the two trading places. Warnock is not a bad player and I would be happy to welcome him to the squad. We will have to watch this space.
Brett Emerton is coming to terms with the fact that he could be out for a large chunk of the festive period after injuring his hamstring against Charlton on Tuesday. It is the same hamstring but in slightly different position and as we all know last time he was out for three weeks. I guess the annoying thing for him must be that he has to wait for the swelling to go down before he can have it scanned to see the extent of the damage which must be very frustrating. Hopefully he can be back for the cluster of games during the main part of the Christmas period as we are already terribly missing so many key players.
Mark Hughes has made it known how disappointed he was to lose so late on to struggling Charlton and has discussed the disappointing aspects with the lads and is now ready to move on to Saturday`s home match against Newcastle Click Here for Full Article. I think this will be a tough fixture as although they are one place below us, they are on the same points and we are evenly matched in every single way. The only difference is they are on the up and going in a different direction to us. In our favour though is the fact that we have had a fairly decent home record so far and we will be looking to add to that tomorrow.
Michael Gray is looking forward to tomorrows clash and sees it as the ideal tonic following our Charlton defeat. As a former Sunderland player he knows all too well of Newcastle`s rivalry having played for the neighbouring team that Newcastle loath more than anyone. He is hoping that we can be as successful as the last festive period, starting with tomorrow. Come on boys, you can do it.Rumour has it in Holland that PSV Eindhoven defender Michael Ball is a target for us as well as Portsmouth. The former Rangers and Everton player is not getting a look in and does not appear to be part of future plans. He has issued a call of come and get me and I am guessing that as he is not wanted that we could either get him on the cheap or his contract could be terminated and he could be captured on a free which seems the most likely as PSV have hinted at this.
After being linked with a move for Phil Bardsley during the week it is now being played down and it is more likely that we will be going for Stephen Warnock should or shall I say when Lucas Neill leaves. Tabs are also being kept on David Dunn and if anything will come of this it depends mainly on the price suiting that what we want which is the way it should be done.
Saturday 9th December 06
Although the January transfer window is fast approaching and we can revitalise our squad should we need to, Hughes believes that this and the summer is not enough and that the transfer window should be scrapped. In a way I think the transfer window is a good thing as if you could buy all year round and the bigger teams such as Manchester United were not doing so well then they could spend big money anytime to rectify this and then they would be even more untouchable. I get where Hughes is coming from though as we have been plagued with injuries along with Newcastle and it can threaten a clubs Premier League status when they do not have sufficient squad depth like the larger teams. Hughes believes that the ban of transfer activity between transfer windows should be reviewed as if to it is working effectively or not.
It looks like Robbie Savage has made himself an enemy after revealing when asked that he was glad Birmingham City went down last season Click Here for Full Article. City skipper, and former Rover Damien Johnson was angered after seeing Savage make these comments on Sky Sports and also said that he left to join us due to Mark Bowen's coaching ability. I can see a little why he is angry as I guess it is not overly professional as it can stir things up yet then again at least he did not lie and I guess he is allowed his opinion, after all it is not as if he was being racist or anything and of course he will be glad that he is playing for us as despite our slump of late we have something good here at Ewood Park.Yet again it was not to be our day. We dominated the first half hour to no reward and I could not believe it when we went in 2-0 down at half time. Gamst Pedersen scored a beauty of a goal in the second half and we played really well. The third they scored was just one of them things I guess when Brad Friedel came up for the corner in the dying seconds to try help out, He was not to know a counter break would catch him out, at least he tried and we`d lost anyway after the corner had been taken. There were question marks over the first two goals as the first was questionably off side and the second definitely was. Hughes is rightly disappointed that we do not get the decisions but is reluctantly hoping this will even out during the second half of the season. Henchoz` challenge that sent him off was clumsy but I felt for him getting sent off for it. Andy Todd and Matt Derbyshire came on in the second half and played quite well. Todd was professional the way he got on with it and I guess was trying to prove a point with his solid performance.
We now have Reading, Arsenal, Liverpool and Middlesbrough left to play this month and none of them will be easy affairs. January is no kinder and we have some tough matches but if we want to remain a Premiership team then we will have to start doing something as the season will get harder as we go on should we not start winning. I have faith that we will stay up but as for doing well and emulating last season I am not so sure on that!
Sunday 10th December 06
I was wondering how long it would be until our old chief Graeme Souness would get back into management following his Newcastle sacking. He is now said to be heading off to Turkey to manage former club Galatasaray for the second time. He was quite successful there and perhaps he will be again. He is by no means amongst one of my favourites but I guess he was not all bad so I wish him good luck.I was touched to read about 19-year-old supporter Ben Johnson who died last month. He suffered from a growth problem called Marfan Syndrome and Tugay dedicated Saturday`s match to the poor lad in his memory and presented his signed match shirt to Ben`s family after the match. I always find it sad when a match is dedicated to someone`s memory and it is lost, I bet the players feel terrible after as they might feel they have let them down. Ben sounded like a proper football fan in the way that he would also acknowledge the opposition and appreciate good play and his grandfather believes he would have appreciated Newcastle`s second goal scored by Obafemi Martin`s and rightly so as it was a good one. At 2-1 towards the near the end of the match it is thought to be the most spirited comeback we were having of the season; perhaps Tugay gave a speech to spur on the lads and to do it for Ben and there is no shame in the fact Tugay might have shed a few tears.