Yesterdays win over Portsmouth was sure sweet revenge from the opening day and the scorer of number three Stephen Warnock has spoken of his goal. He was surprised that Nonda passed the all to him instead of going for goal himself as he was on a hat-trick but Nonda was very unselfish setting Warnock up to blast into the net. What Warnock was unaware of was that he initially set up the move from in his own half. The game produced yet another clean sheet making it now three in a row so no doubt the lads will go into Wednesday FA Cup replay against Arsenal in higher spirits believing they can do what they must to continue.
I was surprised to not see Benni McCarthy feature at all against Portsmouth but then again Hughes was spoilt for choice with all five senior strikers available. Mark Hughes had recently commented that McCarthy had perhaps started to lose his spark due to the heavy work load and so I guess with us cruising over a poor Portsmouth side and no desperate need for him to play it was an ideal time to give him a breather and a chance to rejuvenate. It proved good for Nonda as he had a cracker scoring two and having what could have been his best game and perhaps play a part in helping to win him a permanent deal. Let`s hope Nonda continues on the right track and with McCarthy now rested, hopefully he can return to produce the goods against Arsenal when he features which Hughes has already revealed.
We have recently been linked with Bayer Leverkusen centre-back Juan who is thought to cost in the region of five million, along with Newcastle United and a host of other German sides. It is now reported that Wigan are to join the chase so we will have to keep tabs of what is happening. I'm not sure that we will really need another centre back with Ryan Nelsen and Chris Samba forging a promising partnership but I guess you never know what the situation will be come the summer and I guess cover is always needed with injuries etc.
Tuesday 27th February 07
David Bentley has brought a smile to the face of many by agreeing a new deal that will keep him with us until 2011 Click Here for Full Article, showing the clubs ambition to move forward and keep the clubs best players. Should we continue to build on our reputation and do well then we can only get better and attract big names. I have a good feeling about the club and feel that we are heading in the right dimension and within X amount of years we could be regularly challenging and perhaps occupying a regular European spot and who knows, perhaps a Champions League place and even more ambitiously once again pushing for the title. But let's not get too carried away as lets take it one step at a time.
Bentley has spoken of his delight at finally wrapping the final details of the negotiations and is hoping that he can continue to improve as a player and that we can reap the benefits. He loves the game and loves being here and why would he not!? The club have helped him find his way, he has a good leader in the form of Hughes for guidance as well as the rest of the management staff; he is playing alongside some fantastic gifted players and the future at Ewood Park looks promising so why would he want to leave all that. You have done the right thing Mr Bentley and let's hope we have a wonderful and thrilling adventure.
The squad is looking good ahead of tomorrows FA Cup replay against Arsenal Click Here for Full Article. We did not face them in the initial away game with the first choice squad due to injuries or other reasons but we face them tomorrow in the knowledge that apart from long-term absentees we will have pretty much a fully fit squad. McCarthy is thought to be in the plans following his rest but with Nonda's good weekend performance and Matt Derbyshire already scoring three times it will be a tough one for Hughes. I would think McCarthy would feature as we are facing Arsenal, even if only as a sub. I have a good feeling about this game and feel as we are at home we can take it to them and not be scared to show what we are capable of.
Hughes has spoken of his respect for Arsenal ahead of tomorrows clash and is full of praise for their fighting spirit. They played a beautiful game against Chelsea like we know how they can but were unfortunately and undeservedly the losing team and things ended ugly with that mass brawl. Hughes is impressed with their desire to win and winning mentality and no doubt the game will be a tough encounter as the Gunners look to win every single game like most top clubs and obviously hate loosing. But we can make that happen tomorrow and beat them as we are also a good team and on our day could more than produce the odd upset…watch this space!
Wednesday 28th February 07
David Bentley may have only just signed a new contract until 2011 but his attention was soon wondering to the England set up and his quest to be a part of this. There is no reason I can think of for Bentley not to eventually forge his way into the England set up as he is full of ambition and has the ability and desire. The only thing that could stop him I guess is if McClaren decides he is too chicken to make too many changes to the regular team and not give him a chance. The only way to find out is to play him and see what happens. He can do it at Under-21 level and the way it has been going for England it can not hurt at all to give the Bentley's of the other teams a chance. He can only get better and I think he will do and could go on to feature regularly for England should he get that deserved chance.
Former academy player Gari Rowntree has been offered a trial with Carlisle United following being out for the past fifteen months with a cruciate knee ligament injury. Hopefully the youngster will be able to get his career back on track and good luck to the young lad.
Before today's FA Cup replay against the Gunners Benni McCarthy was hoping to make a massive impact on the game and that is just what he popped up to do by scoring that late winning goal to send us marching into the quarter finals. Many probably thought that despite winning comfortably the weekend that after going out of the UEFA Cup last week we would follow suit and crash out of this cup as well as we were facing the brilliantly gifted arsenal. But we did not let that dampen our spirits and we were able to get a result; what a brilliant way to wash away the blues from our UEFA Cup departure. If we can beat Arsenal then surely we stand a chance of going all the way. We face Manchester City in the next round which I have a feeling we will win but you never can tell what is going to happen in this competition as Arsenal were probably fancied to win today`s replay.
McCarthy spoke before the game revealing all about how he about adapting to the English game, finding it hard due to the pace and worrying as to if he could keep to the pace and last; he has done a great job so far this year and has adapted naturally. He was full of praise for Hughes, the club and for Arsenal and following this tremendous result he can now sit back and indulge in the praise that he will be receiving for what could be one of his most important games so far.
Hughes hailed McCarthy's brilliant goal as a goal of world class quality and he could just be right by that. It was a beautiful goal and we stuck at Arsenal denying them and prevailed to Hughes delight. He was pleased with the team and how we played and feels that the goal alone is worthy of winning any game. It was a masterful move resting McCarthy again at the start again which probably raised a few eyebrows but Hughes appeared to have got it spot on; well done Mr Hughes and I take my hat off to you.
Thursday 1st March 07
McCarthy probably no doubt enjoyed and benefited from the rest he had against Portsmouth but found himself somewhat surprised at being left on the bench for the first two thirds of the Arsenal game. He does not blame Hughes for leaving him out though Click Here for Full Article as you do not change a winning team. McCarthy saw his chance in the game and took it and I'm sure he knows that he is our key man as he has shown that so far this season. He is a lethal predator and when you have someone of his ability coming on in a game with fresh legs after being rested, there is always a chance that they can produce that bit of magic needed and he did just that.
Katie Anderton who plays for our ladies team is to go on a three month loan to American side FC Indiana who are ranked fifth in the world. That will be quite an achievement and one in a lifetime opportunity for her but we do not need to worry as she will not be going until May and will be back for the start of the next campaign. She is playing great football, has scored thirty goals already and scored a hat-trick against Chelsea in an FA Cup tie quite recently. The climate change might come as a bit of a shock to her as she has never been to the states and no doubt she will sweat it out a bit more in that heat but I'm sure she will enjoy it so good luck to her.
David Dunn is set to miss our FA Cup quarter final match against Manchester City next weekend as he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season. Three of these were for Birmingham before he rejoined us; one was against Arsenal when we played them in the FA Cup at the Emirates stadium and the most recent being on Wednesday. As there is a seven day rule for the totting of bookings, this makes him ineligible for the tie in ten days time; looks like someone else will have to be setting up the winner next time as he did for Benni McCarthy's wonder goal.
New fans favourite Christopher Samba has again received praise from Sparky Hughes Click Here for Full Article for his solid performance against Arsenal on Wednesday which he received man of the match. Once again he stood strong in the middle with his new team buddy Ryan Nelsen helping to make it four clean sheets in a row and they look like they could go on to be a force to reckon with. What a bargain he was at £400,000 and in today's crazy money that is pocket change. The team appeared to play off of him and he was able to help us counter attack; he is no doubt proving to be a giant of the game. The whole back line put in a good performance and this could prove to be the foundations for our late push for that all elusive European place.
Friday 2nd March 07
Good news for season ticket holders…Rovers have been talking for a while now about cutting ticket prices using the newly to be invested TV money and the average cost for season tickets for next season are to be cut by more than a quarter Click Here for Full Article. The savings that fans will receive will total more than a million which will surely put a holt to falling attendances and make it more affordable for fans to also make them extra trips to European matches should we qualify and also the other existing yearly cup games. This means we have joined Rovers join Chelsea, Everton, local rivals Bolton and Wigan in confirming a reduction or a freeze in ticket prices for next season. A whopping 5,500 season tickets will be available at £249 and the average price for the Blackburn End will fall by 30% from £425 to £299 with the most expensive ticket crashing from £595 to £399; now that is something worth considering and happy days all round.
Chairman John Williams has also spoke of how he wants to continue to look into different ways to add extra value for season ticket holders which shows he is aware and appreciates what important money they invest into the club. Our ground can house 31,000 fans yet we have only just reached over two-thirds of this. Surely these prices will help pack out the home crowd and raise the voice of the twelfth man which Hughes believes to be mightily important for the team and lifts the players. Having a full house no doubt creates an electric atmosphere and as a fan it will no doubt be great to be a part of this.
It is thought that Benni McCarthy is being linked with a return to international football with South Africa which has led Hughes warning him that he could pay a heavy price should he do so. This season has probably been the most strenuous that McCarthy has faced due to the faster pace of the game which had recently seen him loose his edge and Hughes resting him to get back that sharpness that he showed earlier in the season. His international exile has lasted fourteen months and should he return to the international scene then there is the chance he will face burn out. If it was to affect him then Hughes will no doubt rest him should this affect him and he would have to fight once again for his place.
Having scored one goal in three starts and twelve sub appearances which has not been helped by hindering injuries, this has lead to Francis Jeffers finding it hard to land a regular place in the team. This has lead to him being sent out on loan to Ipswich Town Click Here for Full Article which would hopefully do him the world of good and help reignite his Blackburn career. This will give him the chance to get regular football as he faces stiff competition playing for us with things looking good for us at the moment. He could make his debut for them tomorrow should all relevant paperwork get completed in time. Hopefully he can stay injury free and manage to get some good out of the time away.
Saturday 3rd March 07
Aaron Mokoena has been in fine form as of late and this has not gone unnoticed by Hughes as Mokoena has caught his eye on more than one occasion. Obviously every game is different and places can not always be guaranteed but Hughes believes that based on the way Bolton play, this game will suit him to the ground so look out for him on Sunday and see how he fits in.
It is fantastic news that ticket prices and season tickets are being slashed for next season due to that television money. This however has led people to worry about the impact of this lost revenue will have on the summer transfer kitty and if we will be able to attract big names. Hughes has moved to reassure us that the transfer kitty will be safe and the fact that we are playing winning football and will have packed out stadiums will help attract players as they will no doubt relish the atmosphere; after all a good atmosphere can help spurn our players and help get the results. The cost cut was launched today and the club motto is 'We believe football is for fans' which is spot on as they would not be running round kicking a ball if we were not the least bit interested!
I know Franny Jeffers has found it hard to nail down a place due to the tough competition and being hindered by injuries but I was still surprised to hear yesterday that he has gone out on loan to Ipswich Town. It is however only for a month as Ipswich wanted the spell to be longer but Hughes was not interested which indicates to me that he still has plans for Franny and perhaps just wants to give him a chance to get a regular run-out, gaining match fitness and rediscovering himself. From what he is saying though he appears quite happy as they are a passing team which suits his style of play and if the chance arose to stay longer then he is more than content to stay on as he is not put off by playing at a lower level which shows that he is just happy to be playing the game that he loves.
Sunday 4th March 07
It was a great result for us getting one over our local rivals Bolton winning 2-1 Click Here for Full Article. Benni McCarthy showed great composure to step up not once but twice to score two penalties. It was even more rewarding for him especially as well as us following his late penalty miss against them last time round which cost us the chance of gaining a valuable point. This time he did not let us down and defensively we were again good as well. It is shaping up to be a promising climax to the season with us sitting pretty in tenth place, only three points behind sixth placed Everton which would have been thought unlikely following some of our earlier displays in the campaign. Aaron Mokoena looked strong as Hughes thought he would and Stephen Warnock had a good game as did the Admiral Ryan Nelsen who looked good as if he had never been away. So as you can guess defensively we were sound and Hughes was full of praise for this as well as for McCarthy who is again looking sharp and cool and I'm sure there are more goals to come from the African hitman.
Whilst things have been going good with our lads on the field, the same can not be said about Robbie Savage off of it. He has gone as far as saying this is the worst point in his career, being worse than being released by Manchester United when he was a youngster and the neck break he suffered at Birmingham which could have paralysed him. He has not been eating, has been regularly sick and lost a stone in weight and is basically depressed and did not want to do anything which is so unlike the Savage that we all know who is a livewire and the sole of the party. Things are now picking up for him and he is fully focused on getting himself back in action and has not written off a return this season. Hopefully the physio and rehabilitation will all go plain sailing and he will not suffer any depressing hiccups along the way; keep at it Savage and remain enthusiastic.
Despite Shabani Nonda scoring twice against Portsmouth last week and having a good spell as of late his future is still a mystery and it is unsure if we are to keep him or not. Fellow DR Congo team mate Lomana LuaLua has urged his Pompey gaffer to snap him up in the summer should we hesitate/not want him as he thinks he is the kind of striker they need, being a goal poacher and a great player. Pompey have been short of goals this side of Christmas following their incredible start, which has seen us edge to within a point behind them and old Harry Redknapp is always keen on African players as he has a way of shaping and molding them to his own certain way like he did with Yakubu who did great there. Should we keep him or not, I have a feeling he will end up staying in England one way or another but I hope he does enough to seal a move and then shows us what he is capable of next season.