Awful Owls the tonic for Rovers
BLUE-EYED BOY’S BLACKBURN VIEW
AFTER a couple of good shoeings in local derbies, what you need for a good old spot of rehabilitation is an opponent in even greater defensive disarray than yourself and Sheffield Wednesday duly obliged at Ewood on Saturday with a supine performance which provided Rovers with the opportunity to get their mojo back working to some tune.
A peerless attacking display with the likes of Bradley Dack and Danny Graham sparkling as much as they had underwhelmed at Deepdale and the DW and a vintage performance coaxed out of much-maligned veteran Craig Conway saw Rovers score four times at home for the first time in 15 months and afforded the supporters the rare luxury of going into added time without the fear that a late opposition goal might reduce the points haul. It was the first time since Peterborough in April that that’s happened.
Wednesday’s manager Jos Lukahay sent out a team which entirely reflected his own haunted countenance as the axe surely looms for him.
Rovers on the other hand played with a swagger and elan which reflected not the hangover from Preston and Wigan but the confidence of a squad delighted that their own manager has committed his immediate future to the club in the form of an extended contract.
All those theories about Dack carrying an injury, hankering after a move, partying too hard and the sage beliefs that Graham can’t play more than 50 minutes, isn’t sharp because he never trains and so on proved just that, theories (and wrong ones) as the pair re-conjured their telepathic doubleact to put the hapless Owls to the sword.
All four goals were wonderful in their creation and execution.
Conway wasn’t far off Man of the Match either despite Graham’s treble making him the obvious candidate and he deserved a goal of his own but to see us functioning so slickly as an attacking unit was a joy.
I enjoyed Paul Downing’s surge and pass for the second goal too, he is another some have written off but it’s a squad game and he did well after waiting chance.
It was swashbuckling stuff and the perfect antidote to the misery of the brace of games which preceded it.
There’ll be tougher tests in the coming weeks for Rovers. We meet five of the current top six as well as Birmingham, who would be top three had the season started on 1st September, before the early January FA Cup tie at Newcastle provides what will by then be a welcome break from the relentless Championship schedule.
It all starts on Saturday at the Riverside but that fixture, while still daunting, looks a little less impossible to imagine us getting anything from than it did before Saturday’s kick-off at Ewood. Arriving home in good spirits to see Middlesbrough comprehensively taken to the cleaners at home by Aston Villa was also heartening. I’m particularly chuffed that my step-daughter is off to the game on her own steam, a first mid-range solo away trip. She’s her mother’s daughter alright.
I admire anyone who travels distance particularly this time of year. The prices for adult tickets at away grounds are not patiently for a inconsiderable, £30 on Saturday, a scandalous £39 at Leeds and £29 at Brammall Lane. Merry Christmas! One hopes that Newcastle and Rovers can come to an agreement over the St James Park cup tie
At least I qualify for a few cheaper away tickets when I turn 60 next month!
It seems, announced quietly by Rovers in the week, that owners Venkys had a representative at Saturday’s game, Jagdish Rao, son of Balaji.
While this has caused some of the usual suspects to throw hands skyward in mock-horror ,I have no problem whatsoever with the lad coming to a game and hope he thoroughly enjoyed it and left keen to see more matches.
I don’t actually have a problem with the Rao brothers and Mrs Desai coming to be honest but I can imagine it would inevitably be a circus just at present as the fag-end of the action-faction longtermers feel unable to abandon their pantomime villain charades. There are those who would doubtless feel it necessary to boo, jeer and chant at the family but as far as I’m concerned they own and finance the club until they wish to divest themselves of it or an attractive offer to take it off their hands comes along. Some people sitting in a stand opposite me isn’t going to cause me apoplexy.or to be overcome with a fit of the melancholic vapours.
The manager has established, alongside the executives he trusts, a working and personal relationship with them and while things are running as smoothly as they are, constant reference to festering wounds does more self-harm to those harbouring long-term resentments than it does to the intended target. I do wonder sometimes what some of these guys’ ex-wives and girlfriends have to endure.
Tony and the boys will need all the lift they can get from the support as they take on the division’s fancied sides over the coming weeks. Let’s concentrate on what we can affect.
Congratulations too to Rovers Twitter fan extraordinaire Jen Bellamy who made and sold out of hundreds of Adam Reed “Ginger Ninja” badges for a charitable cause on Saturday. Now that’s a productive use of energy!
CRICKET CHRIS OSTICK
DANE Vilas believes Liam Livingstone showed a lot of maturity in standing down as Lancashire captain.
And now the new skipper says his mission is the make the Red Rose proud – and reward the club for the faith they have shown in him.
The South African was handed the reins earlier this month after Livingstone quit following one season in the role, saying he needed to concentrate on his form with the bat after an inconsistent season.
It’s a decision Vilas says he didn’t expect.
“I thought Liam did a good job, and I fully supported him,” said the 33-year-old.
“I know the team were behind him as well. But he obviously decided he needed to step down. For his career, I think it shows a lot of maturity. It can only benefit him in the future.
“I haven’t really spoken to him. He messaged me and said ‘Congratulations, I’m very happy you’re the guy to step in’. But I will definitely touch base with him at some stage to chat through a few things.”
Vilas will get his captaincy underway against a former Lancashire skipper as the Red Rose begin their County Championship Division 2 campaign at Lord’s against Middlesex, who are now coach by Stuart Law.
Vilas is currently playing back in South Africa, but can’t wait to return to Emirates Old Trafford to start Lancashire’s bid to win promotion back to Division One of the County Championship following last season’s relegation.
“It’s a massive club,” said Vilas, who captained the side several times last season when Livingstone was out with a thumb injury. “I was extremely proud and honoured to represent
Blackburn Rovers’ Bradley Dack impressed against Sheffield Wednesday along with strike partner Danny Graham