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Blackburn Rovers v West Ham United - Match Preview

Filed: Friday, 17th December 2010
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy has spent the week dodging the fat ugly bird with the mistletoe and stepping over frozen pools of vomit deposited on the pavement by once a year drinkers just to bring you this look at this weekend's trip to Ewood Park. We wish he hadn't but there it is....

Next up we travel to the frozen north where, weather permitting, we will face Blackburn Rovers for a 3pm Saturday kick-off at Ewood Park.

Our hosts currently lie in 13th place on 21 points, which is nine points ahead of ourselves. They’ve won three and lost three of their last six, going through a WLWLWL cycle with their last outing resulting in a 2-1 defeat at the Reebok against Bolton last weekend. Before that they beat Wolves 3-0 at home, a match which followed that 7-1 defeat at Old Trafford which had Sky purring over the fact that Berbatov “equalled the Premiership record” by scoring five. Still one behind Sir Geoff Hurst then (and, if you must, two behind Ted Drake) if you make the astonishing discovery that football existed prior to 1993. Perhaps someone should tell Sky.

Of course, for all the talk of current form, league positions and the like, the big story in Blackburn (apart from the holes) is that the club’s new owners took only a matter of weeks to get fed up with Fat Sam Allardyce and dispensed with his services on Monday. Allardyce won few friends with his “style” (and I use that word quite incorrectly) of football which bore as much resemblance to the beautiful game as an X Factor winner’s single does to a Rachmaninoff piano concerto. Whilst the former will get you a chart position, the mere fact that it exists in the first place will be enough to depress the hell out of you as you listen to the latter.

Predictably, all the usual suspects from the managerial rent-a-quote carousel have been up in arms about Allardyce's dismissal. “Oh he got them to tenth” and “they could have been as high as seventh last week came the mantra from the likes of Steve Bruce and Ferguson. However, I'll be willing to bet that neither Sunderland or Man Utd will be rushing to help out such a "wonderful" coach with a job any time soon. For all the crocodile tears being shed it should not be forgotten that Allardyce has made a lot of money out of dismissal settlements in recent years. Maybe I'm in a minority but I reckon the club’s new owners have the right to decide whether or not they want stone age football.

Talking of the poultry farmers, the club’s Indian owners have denied that the sacking came about as a result of transfer policy disagreements, stating only that they wanted a younger and more dynamic manager. However, there have been rumblings about the involvement as advisors to the owners of sports management agency Kentaro. Kentaro, allegedly, have drawn up a list of potential transfer targets that contains a number of their own charges. Did someone mention the words “conflict of interest” m'lud? Of course Allardyce would know all about that sort of thing, his family connections having come under scrutiny as part of the infamous Panorama “expose” a few years back. You will recall how loudly Allardyce proclaimed his intention to sue the Beeb for every penny of our licence fee before quietly forgetting to do so.

At present the managerial reins are in the hands of caretaker boss (and former coach under Allardyce) Steve Kean, and it has been stated that the club are “in no hurry” to name a permanent replacement. It remains to be seen whether Kean will tinker too much with the type of football played, after all getting the ball on the ground after so many years of launching it into the stratosphere is going to take some getting used to for players who played as if they got fined for every pass they made.

With a new manager in place it's a little difficult to predict who will be turning out, especially as they have virtually a full squad to choose from. The usual injury sources suggest that there are only three in their treatment room. To put that into context, when the Boleyn Ground was built, there was already a queue of nine players waiting to get into ye olde physio room and, should the proposed move to the Olympic stadium take place, the treatment room is likely to be so big that it'll have its own Parliamentary constituency, which will be nice for Kieron Dyer.

From their point of view Aussie midfielder Vince Grella is listed as a doubt with a groin strain, which is probably code for “hitherto too embarrassed by his cricket team to turn up”. He's not been a regular this season by any stretch of the imagination, having made just five appearances since August.

French midfielder Steven Nzonzi is another doubt having got a dodgy hamstring. He's been more prevalent, having made 11 appearances this term though, five of those have been from the bench.
Under Allardyce they've gone with a sort of 4-1-2-3 formation, presumably on the grounds that even Allardyce would blanch at a 6-0-4 line-up. Up front v Wolves they went with Roberts, El Hadj Diouf and Emerton, a three usually augmented by Samba at set pieces which is something in which they specialise. They have other options up front including the Croatian striker Kalinic, whose 10 league starts have produced 2 goals thus far this season. He started the Wolves match on the bench – and stayed there, which, considering they won the match 3-0 might just indicate that he wasn't top of the lardy one's favourite striker list.
Apart from their strikeforce, another danger will be Norwegian Gamst Pedersen who has a decent shot on him whether it be from a dead ball or a moving one.

Us? Well I personally found last week’s 3-1 home defeat to Manchester City very depressing. Ok so they’ll beat a lot of teams but what I found dispiriting was the way the heads went down at 2-0.

I’m not sure who is fit for this one – some sources suggest that Noble may be pushing for a return but I’ll believe that when I see it. I’d therefore expect Spector to continue in his battle to get a new contract. If fit I’d hope that Jacobsen might return to face his former team, which would mean an afternoon under the tartan blanket for Faubert. Ben Haim seems to have got the nod at left back in the (unexplained) absence of Gabbidon who last week failed to make an appearance either in the squad or in the usual injury listings. Behrami has been similarly missing and, given that he came close to leaving in the summer it would not be a total surprise if it turned out that he had already played his last game for the club.

Up front? Well I’d go with Piquionne & Obinna to start and, whilst the standard substitution when we are up against it is to bring on Cole, I’d prefer to see more use of Hines’ as the youngster builds up his match fitness.

Depending on whether you believe the BBC (three games) or the Standard (one), Grant has a finite number of matches in which to pick up three points or be sacked. Let’s assume for a minute that the three points are not forthcoming (though I hope to God that they are) and SuGo decide to dispense with his services. If that happens, I would humbly and respectfully like to offer the following advice to SuGo: DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT BRINGING ALLARDYCE TO OUR CLUB. The prospect of seeing Blackburn-style football week in week out is one that turns my stomach more than the idea of twelve pints and a vindaloo followed by a roller coaster ride. Worse still, the idea of having to put up with his self-justification for the lack of football each week (“The Pro-Zone stats say we play better football than Barcelona”) would just add insult to injury. I speak only for myself, of course and there may be those who would welcome the fat one’s arrival. I reckon that they’re in a minority mind.

Messrs SuGo claim to be fans – Gold in particular is proud at having played for the club at junior level as a kid (though he doesn’t like to talk about it). So I’d hope at least for them to think about what those of us who have been suffering over the past 40 years or so might think about any appointment particularly if it were to be Allardyce, whose only redeeming feature, as far as I can see, is the fact that at least he isn’t Neil “Colin” Warnock.

Prediction? Well last weekend’s rolling over in front of Man City has sort of knocked the optimistic stuffing out of me I’m afraid. Even at my most claret and blue of moments the best I can see is another 90 minutes of tedium in a fixture that has, in recent seasons, barely troubled the needle on the “excitement-ometer”. Another awful 0-0 I’m afraid.

Enjoy the game – and have a great Christmas!

Last season 0-0 Having trouble sleeping? Slip a DVD of this one into the player and you’ll be asleep before Allardyce can say “bung”.

Danger Man: Pedersen – the Norwegian has a shot on him.

Referee: Mike Dean – just what Grant needs when his job is on the line. A match official who is, at his best, incompetent. At his worst he is incompetent and dishonest, and he’s at his worst a lot. This is the third time this season we’ve been lumbered with this self-important idiot in the league. Man Utd have only had him the once. Funny that.

Daft fact of the week: The “4,000 holes in Blackburn Lancashire” reference in the Beatles “A Day In The Life” was inspired by a newspaper article bemoaning the state of the borough’s roads, and not, as those of us who have been there might have thought, a comment on the dodgy nightlife.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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