The FA Cup gets underway this weekend and City fans can look forward to their dream Third Round trip to Blackburn. There are few better away days than a trip to Ewood Park and I certainly can’t wait to get in the Darwen End with 7000 other Blues.
Forgive some of us City fans for no longer paying much attention to leagues below the Prem (we spent years *having* to do so), but how has Blackburn’s season been so far?
Yes I don’t blame you deep down, I don’t think anyone would follow Rovers out of anything other than necessity or under the application of duress. It’s been a mixed bag of a season so far, we’ve been inconsistent with very promising performances followed up with rather mediocre displays and spurts of genius mixed in with some glaringly poor defensive mistakes. It has been frustrating at times but I can safely say that it has been a better show than last season’s all singing, all dancing omnishambles.
The football is better, the players on display this term are more committed and “together”, whilst we’ve looked steady if unspectacular on the whole.
I’ll call it a mild and cautious thumbs up.
Who’s your best player at the moment?
The easy answer is of course Jordan Rhodes. He seems to spend about 85 minutes not doing much and chasing hopeless lost causes, but then one chance falls his way and he never looks like doing anything else other than scoring. He’s a nice lad and a good player, his chance will come in the Premier League soon enough (whether it’s with us or someone else) and he’ll deserve it. He scored 30 goals in 2013, which given our less than handsome recent history is nothing short of excellent.
Special side nod while I am on one to midfielder Tom Cairney, who has been a good pair of feet to have in midfield. He can pick out a pass and create. We’ve needed someone like him since the day Tugay picked up his big bag of Turkish delight and went home.
What’s your predicted starting XI?
Disclaimer – I normally gets these wrong so don’t go racing to the bookies with anything I say here…
Simon Eastwood in goal. Back four will be Adam Henley, Scott Dann, Grant Hanley and Tommy Spurr. Midfield will likely be a three carrying on from it working quite well in our win against Leeds on New Years Day – Tom Cairney, Jason Lowe and Lee Williamson. I’d imagine will have to “attacking midfielders” in Ben Marshall and Chris Taylor who will play off Jordan Rhodes up front.
Tell me about your owners. Have things settled down a bit now?
Settled is probably a better word to use than better or improved. Things are still pretty bleak given our massive financial loss last season and the owners apparent allergy to doing anything remotely productive with their football club. But they’ve left their trust and faith in manager Gary Bowyer and Managing Director Derek Shaw to run the club in England under their less than astute “supervision” and this season at least things have started to look a bit steadier. Mind you it does help when you’re not sacking and appointing a new manager every 25 minutes.
Oh and making Shebby Singh invisible certainly helps matters too.
I can’t tell you with any great assurance that the owners have learnt any lessons or have turned a corner, but it’s nice at least to be out of the headlines and for the rest of planet Earth not to be rolling around in a see of hysterical tears and disbelief at off at our owners never ending circus style behaviour.
You’re two points off the playoffs. Do you think you’ll go up?
I’d still file that under “unlikely” at the moment as we’ve been unable to put together a meaningful run of form so far this season. The Championship is a very tight league, to really put yourself in the frame for promotion you need to go on a big unbeaten run and I can still name you 8 or 9 teams who I feel are better equipped to hit the big time than we are at the moment.
We’ve a young and unfamiliar squad this season which I have taken a liking to and certainly prefer infinitely to the one containing workshy wasters Danny Murphy and Bradley Orr last season, but is it enough to go up? I can’t see it just yet, although I do try every day to see it through those lovely rose tinted goggles.
As long as we keep ourselves in the pack that we’re in at the moment then we’ll stand a chance…
Do you wish Sam Allardyce was still in charge?
Yes. It was, in hindsight, one of the worst decisions Venky’s have made – and there are enough of those to fill a bumper edition of the print space in the Argos catalogue.
Whilst Sam gets the usual, never ending bad press about his unattractive style of play and less than modest demeanour, he was the perfect fit at Ewood Park as the underdog side fighting the odds to mingle with the big boys. We were as a club occupying about as good a spot in the top division as we could have realistically hoped to have been and for a club on relatively limited means he suited the model.
He took an average side and made them look better than the sum of their parts for a sustained period of time. We managed to finish 10th in the Premier League one year with a midfield containing full time jogger, Keith Andrews…. which is deserving of the highest praise a human being can give.
He wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but show me a Rovers fan who will tell you they’d prefer Messrs Kean, Berg and Appleton instead of Sam Allardyce and I’ll show you an insane asylum and an immediate check in date.
Which City player do you most admire?
Sort of like asking me which member of the girlband “The Saturdays” is the most superficially attractive but I’ll go with David Silva, from a technical standpoint the best player operating in England over the last few years.
Who will win the Premier League?
Well you’ve really boxed me into a corner with this one as a neutral answering question for a Manchester City fanatic. Go on then, I’ll plump for your boys – but only because I have a brother who is a lifetime long City fan and I don’t want an angry text off him after reading this.
Heart or head, heart or head… I think we all know how this one will finish, you’ll be too powerful and extravagant for us even if you cart out the second string.
You’ll win, I’m hoping/expecting it won’t be as easy for you as most expect. I’ll say 1-2… Dzeko and Kolarov for City, Rhodes for Rovers.
Interview by Rob Pollard