Derby have been linked with our James McEveley for a little while now and for a while I thought that he would end up staying with injuries, Neill departing etc. But we have since captured Stephen Warnock as a fine replacement and now have Christopher Samba as well giving McEveley the green light to depart to the promotion chasers. He has joined them on a three-and-a-half year deal for £600,000 plus add-ons Click Here for Full Article. Who knows, he could soon be playing against us should they get promoted.
Stephen Warnock has been reflecting on his first outing for us against Luton on Saturday and I think it was a fine debut at that as he looked to settle nicely despite any nerves that he said he had. He looked to be right at home playing with the other lads and he said that Gamst made things easy playing alongside him. Hopefully this could be the making of a beautiful relationship they will have. You could not have asked for a better result on a debut either, especially as his cup winning team from last year Liverpool are already out of the competition.
It is a shame that Savage looks set to be out for the remainder of the season yet I still think we will be able to go on and manage without him for now as we should have enough cover. It is being said though that Hughes is looking to bring in a replacement to cover for him during the rest of the season and that person Hughes is pondering is as mentioned last week, Italian Alessio Tacchinardi of Juventus. Hughes still has a couple of days to come up with something but I think he will end up leaving it and making do with what we have already got which should we have no other serious injuries is more than sufficient.
We all know what a talent Matt Derbyshire is proving to be and as time goes on he is more and more proving his worth. His two strikes during our FA Cup victory over Luton and assist for Benni McCarthy's goal have seen him short-listed by the FA for player of the fourth-round. He will find himself competing against Reading's Leroy Lita, Preston North End's David Nugent, Jamie McAllister of Bristol City and Scott Sinclair of Plymouth Argyle. In my eyes there is only one clear winner and that is not even because of who they play for!
Tuesday 30th February 07
Today has seen us capture our fourth buy of the current transfer window. We have signed Swiss left-back Bruno Berner from FC Basel Click Here for Full Article, who we had last week been linked with. He has signed for eighteen months with an additional year should we want to extend. He has already featured during the UEFA Cup so will be cup tied but that won't be a problem. When we played Basel he was part of the squad but as unused sub so we never got to see him have a run about. Stephane Henchoz knows all about him though as they have played together internationally and if he did enough to impress Mr Hughes then he is worth a shot.
Newby Christopher Samba had already became very popular before he even made his debut as a sub during the FA Cup and the knowledge of this and the great bunch of lads we have at the club are probably what have led to him already feeling at home. He loves the fans and acknowledges the English fans amongst the best in the world and when they were chanting his name on Saturday you could see that he was loving it and digging in. It would have been interesting during that match as to what would have happened should he have made contact with his swinging shot from Gamst corner leading up to the goal before Gamst finally drove the ball home. The good thing is that he feels at home and everyone is helping him to settle in and he gets to live his dream that many foreign players have; to play in the best league in the world.
After missing the last two games due to his hamstring problem, the masterful Tugay will be returning for our match against Chelsea which will with no doubt be a very welcome return. Although we lost the last game against Chelsea, we have shown over the years that we are capable of beating them, though the level of their game the last couple of years under The Special One has excelled. Chelsea are in fine form, yet so are we so should we manage to recreate what we have been doing and perhaps even up our game a little due to the quality of the opposition, who knows what could happen. Henchoz who has been playing well looks set to miss out due to an ankle injury so the admiral could find himself stepping in. Andy Todd is out ill, perhaps they are saying this as they plan to sell him, who knows and new boy Bruno Berner will travel with us but it awaiting international clearance.
Although we did not get the FA Cup draw that we were looking for, playing either local rivals Bolton or magical Arsenal will be quite some match Click Here for Full Article. I know progressing will be a big task, yet if we are to go on and win the Cup then we will have to beat the best to be the best. It will be some match to watch and I predict it will be very entertaining. Kick-off will be 12.30pm on Saturday 17th February and it has been selected to be shown on BBC1; I know what I will be doing come cup day. We won't find out who we are to face though until Tuesday 14th February when Arsenal and Bolton have had their replay.
Wednesday 31st February 07
Hughes has also spoke about our tricky FA Cup fixture quoting that it obviously is not the easiest of draws and not the one that he was after but that we would give it a go wherever and whoever it be against.
The latest addition to our squad and possibly the last, unless anything happens today has spoke of his delight in joining us. Like many Bruno Berner is delighted to be playing in this country and it will now be his dream come true. We always welcome those that are grateful to be here like himself who has been following English football since he was a teenager. It is even better though when they go on and prove their worth and do a good job for the club.
Strasbourg's Pascal Johansen is available apparently should we want to take on as he has fallen out of favour with their gaffer and he is said to have been on trial here. Should he join then it looks like Bruno Berner will not be our last addition; it is transfer deadline day though so we will be being linked with various people as always.
It's good to see that our partnership is still continuing with feeder club Cercle Bruges as they have taken Tony Kane on loan for the rest of the season Click Here for Full Article. He had been at Stockport County and I welcome this latest move as it will be good for him to get European experience and it also keeps our relationship running strong with the club as well.
Another youngster that has gone out on loan is Andy Taylor who has joined Huddersfield on loan for a month to help with their promotion bid from League One to the Championship. He has already been at Crewe on loan this season and the Huddersfield boss is delighted as he has obviously captured a talented young lad.
We had a tricky task ahead of us tonight travelling to Stamford Bridge to play the mighty Chelsea Click Here for Full Article and Hughes was hoping that as we have had good form away from home, we could perhaps pull something out of the hat tonight; unfortunately though we ended up leaving with a far from flattering 3-0 defeat Click Here for Full Article. There were some good goals scored against us so it is not as though they walked over us, Frank Lampard's was a trademark goal which perhaps could have been closed down a little more but all the same a magnificent goal. We took the game to them though and went there to win but it was just not to be.
Thursday 1st February 07
I still feel hard done by in the way that the score from yesterday reads 3-0 but it is good that Mr Special One Mourinho was full of praise in the way that we took the game to them. He feels that we played with a great attacking attitude, setting out to win the game and that we could have scored some goals. He did comment that he thinks we are an aggressive team, which some people want us to be moved away from, but Mourinho likes aggressive and if he likes it then it can not all be bad.
The Admiral was pleased to be making his Premiership return and it was again a good sight to see him running around on the pitch. It must have been frustrating for him all that time not knowing what the problem was before being rectified but it appears that it is all sorted and hopefully there will be no reoccurrence of the injury. It is a shame it was not diagnosed earlier though as it would have been good to have had him back sooner.
The progress of our Matt Derbyshire has been amazing this season. It is a true fairytale in the way that he was a local lad working at the Community department at Ewood as a football coach whilst playing non-league football for Great Harwood Town before we bought him for a mere £20,000 three seasons ago. During his loan spell at Plymouth Argyle at the beginning of last season he was wasted being sat on the bench, if only they had known what he was capable of as he showed for Wrexham during the second half of the season and he is showing what he is made of this season with five goals in seven games. This has lead him to get his first call-up to the under-21 England team Click Here for Full Article for next Tuesday against Spain which will be a great experience for the lad.
David Bentley has also had a recall to the under-21's. It is frustrating that Bentley is not being considered for the senior team as I feel he is worthy and is in great form but at least he is getting kind of recognition after not being included in the England set up for a while; hopefully his next step will be the England squad in the near future as the squad definitely needs a shake-up in my eyes.
Friday 2nd February 07
As usual I am looking forward to our match tomorrow and hopefully we will get a glimpse of David Dunn making his much-anticipated second debut. Obviously we do not want to rush the chap but he has been looking very good and sharp in training and is very fit, so theoretically we should catch a glimpse tomorrow. Zurab Khizanishvili will be available tomorrow after missing the Chelsea match through injury but Brett Emerton looks set to maybe miss out due to injury during the recent match. Andy Todd has missed training as has been a poorly chap so no doubt he will not be about.
Tickets are now available for our home game against Portsmouth at the end of the month as of Monday. The match is on Sunday 25th at 15:00 should any of you be wanting to stroll along with prices charged at £15 for Adults, £14 for Seniors/Club 16-21 Members and £7 for Juniors under 16. If for any reason you cannot make it then it will be available to watch on Sky Prem Plus if you are a subscriber or find yourself wanting to make the one off match payment if you are not.
We have been doing a lot of travelling with the last four games being played away and it will be good to be playing back at home again tomorrow but it will by no means be easy as we take of Sheffield United Click Here for Full Article who might not have had the best of seasons but are having a fairly good run and crack at it and can not be written off as they are doing well at the moment. It will be tough and could shape the rest of our season but I bet our boys will give it their all as they usually tend to do; Hughes would not have it any other way.
Blackburn MP Jack Straw and PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor are happily backing our latest initiative to get children flocking into the games and produce a new generation of followers. The latest offer is very generous where if you have a party of ten or more children, they get in for £3 a head with them two lucky accompanying adults gaining free entry so that is a great excuse to be one of the responsible adults, that is as long as you don't get carried away and forget totally about the kids as that's what a good game of footy can do to you. The Governments plans to get children out the classroom more and on more trips so why not follow their plan and get them to a good game of footy. If Straw and Taylor think it is a good idea then that's backing enough for me and the children who as they say are our future would get to partake in out-of-class activities through the Community Programmes and we could find ourselves seeking out potential future talents!
When the England squad was announced for the coming friendly next week, I found myself not very surprised at the selection. I know Bentley has got into the Under-21 team, yet like Hughes I was surprised, as well as disappointed that Bentley had been over looked as he has been in fine form consistently, which is what Steve McClaren is saying that he wants. I think Bentley was just as impressive as Lampard when they battled against each other in midfield last week and Hughes felt this might have tipped it for him but for a player like Bentley, it does not appear to work that way; had he been at another club, he might find himself having a look in, who knows?!
Saturday 3rd February 07
I was shocked to hear yesterday that Tugay was called out of retirement Click Here for Full Article to play for turkey as he retired in 2003 and despite being still very good, he is no spring chicken and this could cause the old boy to burn out. Obviously Tugay is a proud man and will give it his best but Hughes was planning to rest him during mid-week and he now has to fly nearly six-thousand miles to play a game for the country in which he retired due to choice. I think that it should be down to the player if they want to play internationally or not, especially at that stage in their careers. We already have Robbie Savage and Steven Reid out and if we want to continue to be serious contenders in the cups, especially UEFA where Tugay has been a god for us as well as pushing for a top six league finish, we can not afford to loose the likes of Tugay, be it to injury, burn out etc. Hopefully he will come through it okay.
New boy Bruno Berner has revealed that it was a shock to him that we signed him. He made FC Basel aware before Christmas that should the chance of a move arise then he would like to consider it. I know we have Henchoz who is Swiss and has done his best as well as everyone else to help Berner settle, but you don't get many Swiss players play in this league and people in Switzerland as well as Henchoz were surprised that the move arose and Berner was well aware that you do not turn down this kind of opportunity. He is cup tied for Europe but should we qualify again for next year, which would be nice to be done by winning it, hopefully he will play for us then in Europe. Should we have to qualify, he has said that he will give us his all to get there which is what we like to hear.
Today's match against Sheffield United might not have been a classic and far from our best performance of the season but I was obviously delighted to see us grabbing all three points which will have us heading in the right direction Click Here for Full Article. They did not deserve to loose to us yet Gamst Pedersen was there at the end to do what he does best; float the ball sweetly into the net from a free kick right at the end. It was good to see Dunn getting a run around for the last half hour when he was welcomed on with great applause and he looked fit and sharp as well which will hopefully stay that way. Oh and must not forget Jason Roberts getting back into first team action following injury. It was not so good for Warnock getting sent off on his home debut for a second yellow card though and it was even worse seeing our boy Derbyshire having to go off injured early on, I hope this does not lead to hindering the rest of his season as things are going so well for the lad; I also guess that this will have to postpone his England under-21 debut scheduled for next week.
Hughes is well aware that we did not deserve all three points and I will have to agree as we looked a little shattered out there and not our usual selves, which I am sure is the result of all that travelling from the past four back to back away games. Sheffield United showed a lot of fighting spirit and from performances like today look as though they are going to fight all the way to remain in this league and good luck to them. Gamst was in the right place for the first goal and the free kick for the second was right within his range as he scores them all the time in training and the team always believe that he can score from these kind of opportunities, his season has picked right up and there is no stopping him now.
Hughes has even admitted that he was willing to settle for the draw which would not have been a bad result following United's gutsy performance but despite not playing the best of games, luck was on our side in the shape of Gamst Pedersen and a wonder strike. Christopher Samba put in a good display for his full debut, showing us why Hughes was impressed with him whilst on trial and Dunn made his debut which is very positive, as well as having Jason Roberts in contention again, who was looking sharp before being hindered with that injury. Hughes felt that it was a bit harsh with Warnock getting sent off on his home debut but it happens and overall it was a good day in the office; well a good day on the field anyway.
Sunday 4th February 07
It was great that we won yesterday despite not playing too great. Local hero David Dunn was pleased to be on the winning team and it was the free kick that he won from a sprightly little run which led to Gamst fine winner. He was chocked by the reception that he received which I'm not surprised he received and it is great firstly to see him back out on the pitch as it has been a while and secondly to see him running around again in a Rovers shirt which is where he belongs; welcome home Dunny boy and we look forward to seeing what else is to come from you should you hopefully remain injury free, which if anywhere as good as last time will be fantastic.
Today saw the U18s came face to face with Liverpool and the match ended in a 0-0 draw, despite Liverpool being reduced to ten men in the first half. Was a shame we were not able to take advantage of this but still a draw is a decent result against a team such as Liverpool.
The injury of Matt Derbyshire put a bit of a downer on yesterdays result and it now looks as though he is going to be out for three to four weeks. He has been a key player for us and we will miss his energy that he provides for us as well as his ability. He has been somewhat of a lethal weapon which we have unleashed this season and has been a key player. Hopefully it is nothing too bad and he can overcome it quickly as he is fit and young. I bet he is gutted that he will not be making his under-21 England debut, but with the gift that he possesses, no doubt he will be pushing for a call-up again soon.
Hughes has been more than impressed with the set pieces Gamst has produced around the box and thinks that he is as good as anyone when it comes to this. Hughes has been stated as saying that his set pieces are as good as Beckham's, yet he did not actually say this. He did say though that the technique he has is as good as anyone's and Hughes has played with and against some of the best so by saying this, it seems Beckham must fall under 'anyone' and I think that Gamst has that special gift that Beckham has shown over the years. Also, if I had to choose between the two players now, I would have Gamst ahead of Beckham and would definitely not trade them.