The fight for survival

Blackburn showed they have enough team spirit and determination about them to successfully battle against relegation this season.

They have beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford and now without their best centre back Chris Samba who looks like he could be leaving in the transfer window they beat Fulham at home 3-1. Adding to this, their top scorer Yakubu got sent off which must have left the Blackburn fans with the sinking feeling of here we go again. But the team pulled through and beat a Fulham side who had been on a decent run themselves and in their last league game came from behind to beat Arsenal.

It shouldn’t be all doom and gloom at Blackburn, yes the board made a terrible decision in sacking Sam Allardyce and maybe Steve Kean should have been sacked but there is definitely quality in this Rovers side and this includes some good young promising players.

Martin Olsson at left back is only 23 and is a very capable player and I wouldn’t be surprised if he played for a top team in the league because he adds a lot going forward with his pace and also his defending is improving as he is getting more experienced. Grant Hanley, the player that scored the winning goal at Old Trafford reminds me of Phil Jones and he could be set to follow in his footsteps and leave the club for a very good price. Although this isn’t what the fans want, if the club sell some of their young assets they can add experience to the squad which would help the team in their scrap at the bottom.

Players that are experienced players in the squad such as Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Dunn are very good players and could fit into most sides that are in the bottom half of the Premier League. They both scored in the win over Fulham and they could have a big say in whether Blackburn are playing in the Premier League or Championship next season.

Up front they do look lightweight with only Yakubu scoring the goals for them but Ruben Rochina who is only 20 has provided real moments of quality at times this season but probably because he is only young he has been inconsistent however I see a bright future in the game for him. He possesses a rocket of a left foot and looks very good on the ball therefore he will surprise a few defenders this season. They also have David Goodwillie who has not acclimitised to the Premier League yet but if he can reproduce some of his form from his days in the SPL then he may be a good addition to the squad. His goal against Newcastle in the FA cup would have done him the world of good.

The most promising player at the club is Junior Hoilett and the proof of this is that he is linked to some of the best clubs in the Premier League, most noticeably Tottenham. His pace and trickery are his main assets but the reason why Blackburn have to keep him is that he is very unpredictable and is the only player in the squad that can really make the Ewood Park faithful get up of their seats. If Blackburn are to stay up this year, they need to keep hold of their 21 year old winger.

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Alex Ferguson works his magic yet again

How do Manchester United keep doing it? Losing at home to Blackburn yet still not losing any ground in the title race. It seems to happen year after year, why can no team take advantage of them slipping up. Manchester City have easily the best squad ever assembled in the Premier League and they have now gone two games without scoring.

After watching the game against Sunderland, I am very tempted to back United to take the title because City need to win games like this if they want to be champions. It’s not like they were terrible but this is what a lot of teams do against the big teams- put 11 men behind the ball and defend for their lives. Manchester United always seem to find a way and yes there is the joke in football about ‘Fergie Time’ but it’s not just by chance that they keep scoring last minute winners unlike their rivals in the past, whether it has been Chelsea, Arsenal or Newcastle.

The most frustrating thing about this defeat for City is the fact that even though they had a lot of shots they didn’t seem to create many clear cut opportunities apart from the Richard’s header that hit the bar, which would have been harsh on Sunderland seen as though he was arguably offside. With all their talent and wealth they should be able to create a lot of chances against a team that had players playing out of position, with Craig Gardner a central midfielder at right back and Jack Colback at left back, Sunderland must have been fearing the worst. This was an even more daunting task when midway through the first half one of their most experienced defenders Wes Brown went off injured for a player that has been in the wilderness at Sunderland since basically the day he signed Matt Kilgallon.

The Sunderland players will be very proud of their victory but Manchester City should be ashamed of their efforts at the Stadium of Light. However, I am going to point the blame at Roberto Mancini because I thought he had realised the way to win the league was to attack as he had been doing at the start of the season when they looked unstoppable but for some reason he went back to his old ways and played De Jong and Gareth Barry in front of the back four with only one player upfront. Surely when your nearest rivals get beaten the day before you play, you do everything you can to win your next game, why were David Silva and Sergio Aguero warming the bench in the first half especially when  City don’t have to worry about playing in the Champions League for the rest of the year. Yes they are in the Europa League but I cannot see them taking the competition seriously.

One last comment on where Mancini has failed is keeping his players happy mainly Carlos Tevez. I’m not defending the player’s actions but this was his type of game where his effort and determination would have grabbed a goal for City like he did so many times for United when he was there.

Being top of the table means dealing with pressure, Manchester City bottled it today and if the Red Devils get a similar opportunity later in the season they will take advantage and Sir Alex Ferguson will have won the mind games yet again.

They think it’s all over…. Not yet for Kean

Well I was going to write about a comfortable victory for Manchester United and talk about how impressive it is that they have scored 1500 goals in the Premier League which they did through Dimitar Berbatov but there is an even better story coming out of Old Trafford today.

Blackburn beating United 3-2 and in all honesty probably deserved a result because of their commitment to their manager. Steve Kean deserves a huge round of applause because he has kept his team focused and they all seem to be playing for him which hasn’t been the case at other clubs over the years. One of the most memorable is Craig Bellamy’s public falling out with Graeme Souness while at Newcastle United. But the Blackburn players have stood by their manager when it seems every fan is slamming him.

With a point at Anfield and a win at Old Trafford surely the fans will lay off Kean now because he deserves a break and if he keeps Blackburn in the Premier League it will be a great achievement. The fans are supposed to be the 12th man at every club, but at Ewood Park it seemed like the players lost confidence because of their fans, therefore it’s not surprising that the team are finding solace away from home.

Yakubu looks like a fantastic signing and guess who signed him from Everton? Yes that’s right it was Steve Kean and he has arguably been the signing of the season alongside Demba Ba of Newcastle. It is hard to pick a man of the match for any away team that wins at Old Trafford but for me it is a straight up battle between the striker and the powerful centre back Chris Samba.

How he hasn’t been signed for one of the big clubs I will never know because he is a fantastic defender and also offers a lot in the opposition box, winning the penalty today. If Arsene Wenger has seen this performance he must be tempted to put a bid in for him in the January transfer window.

Steve Kean deserves a medal for what he has had to put up with this season from the Blackburn fans so hopefully this result will get them off his back even if it is only for a short while.

Finally, I would just like to praise the performance of the referee, even though on the whole Mike Dean was pretty poor and gave some interesting decisions, he was a lot stronger than most at Old Trafford. He gave the penalty which was quite blatant but time and time again we have seen those waved away and he could have also called for a foul on the hapless David De Gea for the winner as he came for a corner and got nowhere near it.

So a big well done to Mike Dean but even more so to Steve Kean.