BLACKBURN (H); THE PREVIEW

26/04/19

City host a resurgent Rovers side, who are coming to Carrow Road on the back of four wins on the bounce. There's also the small matter of getting that single point to rubber stamp promotion. Ahead of the game Jon Punt spoke to Blackburn fan Ian Herbert...

Jon: You've had your fun, four wins on the spin is plenty thanks. Now's the time to limp into Carrow Road, roll over and let us enjoy the promotion party. We're agreed, yeah?

Seriously though (I am serious about rolling over too mind), what's been the secret of the recent turnaround? Is this a question of nothing to play for, so players are going out and expressing themselves?

Ian: The secret of great comedy is timing so they say; it could be argued similarly for football I guess. Knowing when to peak, when to hold back and when to thunder into town, swaggering and steamroller the local heroes at the very point they least expect or desire it.

Rovers are not yet masters of this art so rest easy. January promised much but the feast turned to famine rather suddenly. The precise moment can be identified as 30 seconds after taking a 2-0 lead at Brentford barely 8 minutes in. The whole squad then pulled out the deckchairs, slipped on the flip flops, ordered cocktails and tucked into a John Grisham novel...we lost 5-2 and thus started a dreadful run which threatened to suck us into a relegation battle that had not been on the radar at all.

Surprise recent wins at home to Frank Lampard's Derby County and Clough Revivalists Nottingham Forest in the space of a week released the pressure to such an extent that we then went on to ease QPR out of the way and then dismissed local rivals, the already-doomed Bolton Wanderers over Easter while barely breaking sweat. So here we are basking in the glory of four successive wins coming right off the back of a pathetic run of form.

Football is chaos...you better believe it. We could just as easily mug you off 2 or 3-0 as lose 4 or 5-0. We have no idea which Rovers team will turn up these days so what your scouting team will have made of it is anyone's guess.

Given our stuttering, but still unbeaten, recent form I can't see Rovers winning, let alone by a serious margin. That said it would be very Norwich to take things right to the last to seal the deal.
We were linked with him a couple of seasons ago and given the same lazy speculation will be rife in the summer, let's talk about Bradley Dack. I love a player with swagger, yet I don't want him swanning in from the Wild Wild (North) West and ruining our Saturday evening. What's the best way to stop him and just how good is he?

Bradders is quite the enigma. He is clearly a sensitive and emotional soul who needs to feel loved, most notably by his Love Island on/off girlfriend. When his personal life is off kilter, so is his game and vice versa when he's in his happy place. In terms of raw talent and ability he's our best player but he does blow hot and cold. Throughout his time at Rovers speculation has been rife of interest from higher placed clubs including WBA and (amazingly) Spurs.

My personal take is that his lack of pace will stop him reaching the very top but he's still a gem that we should treasure whilst he's ours. The "Bradley Dack Transfer-o-Meter" started the season at roughly lb12m, rose to lb20m when WBA started sniffing in December, fell back to lb10m in March but is on the rise again following some excellent displays in our mini-revival. lb18.75m is current consensus but remember, the value of your investment may fall as well as rise.

How best to stop him? Before kick-off, tell him that Olivia has run off with Jordan Rhodes. That'll do it.

**Googles Heat Magazine editor's phone number**

Bugger - they won't run the story, something about a fella called Rylan coming out in favour of Brexit because it will mean teeth whitening gets cheaper is stealing all their column inches this week.

Well, if we assume Mr Dack might be pre-occupied for some reason, is there anyone else we need to fear?

The goalscoring machine that is Ben Brereton. He is on a hot scoring streak of 1 in 1 so be afraid. Ben has been saddled with a fee we haven't considered since one Rhodes, J and many fans expected the same returns. We were delighted to see him break his duck over Easter but he will be back on the bench I suspect so you better watch out for Danny Graham. DG is a fans' favourite providing something that is a throwback, namely good old-fashioned centre forward play. He continues to defy the years and our so far futile search for someone to replace him goes on. While this state of affairs subsists, he's the main man.

Lewis Travis in midfield is our own little gem. Rescued from Liverpool's academy, he has truly blossomed into an all-action midfielder. He'll get sent off now I've bigged him up.

You've reminded me. Last season Grant Hanley, formerly of your parish, absolutely beasted Master Brereton. I'd imagine that even if he was selected, young Ben would get a note from his parents to say he can't possibly play as he wore some wet jeans in the week and now he has a nasty cold.

I have seen Travis on one of your televised matches and he caught the eye, but hopefully he has been wearing wet jeans too.

Changing the subject entirely, what's the latest with the whole #VenkysOut stuff? That all seems to have gone very quiet, I guess a relatively successful couple of seasons helps?

After the comical appointment of Owen Coyle (...just imagine for instance, by way of comparison, say... Paul Lambert...joining your nearest and dearest rivals...I mean they just wouldn't stand for it would they?) Venky's seemed to take a back seat and appointed a UK based director to oversee affairs and a CEO in Steve Waggott who knows English football and (most importantly) worked with Tony Mowbray at Coventry. Waggott and Mowbray have stabilised off and on field matters respectively, a first-time promotion back to the Championship galvanised the supporters and well...here we are...

Rovers losses run at lb300k per week, FFP means we can't expect a wholesale cash injection without attracting another transfer embargo and so we need to produce our own players and/or steal other unpolished diamonds and make something of them. I can't for a second believe that there is a queue of wealthy suitors all wanting to pay lb300k per week for a season ticket, so I think we are stuck with them for the foreseeable future. The only way they can be shut of us is to write off hundreds of millions and walk away...or somehow we fluke our way into the play-offs and "do a Huddersfield". So I think they are stuck with us for the foreseeable future.

If they keep covering the losses and funding the academy, I think the truce will continue. It's an expensive hobby though.

Promoting through the academy and polishing rough diamonds. Sounds familiar.
Tell you what, so that you can cover just over a month's worth of losses we'll give you lb1.5m for that Bradley Dack fella. Can't say fairer than that.

Have to say I've been impressed with the job Mowbray has done with Rovers so far, I certainly wasn't convinced by his previous exploits but sometimes a manager just fits with the right club.

Onto Saturday then, what kind of style do Rovers employ? Given the old fashioned and throwback-y nature of Mr Graham you've mentioned, I'm presuming it might be a bit of rough and tumble, allied to some flair from the number 10 we've talked about too much already?

It's really very difficult to nail down an archetypal style as such, which might not be a bad thing; if we aren't sure how we are going to play then you will have no chance of preparing.

Away from home we tend to be more counter attacking and that can play to our strengths when Armstrong and Rothwell are on form. We do try to play football but when we are under pressure, a long ball out from the back does rather become the default. Nyambe and Bell are very much the epitome of the modern-day full back - better going forward than defending - they can be "got at" by opposing wingers but equally can help to create in the opponent's penalty area.

Dack links the play though, he's the one to drop deep, pick up and make something happen. DG patrols the penalty box largely.

The Guardian's "Fiver" column still refers to us as "Blackeye Rovers", a throwback to the Mark Hughes days of Robbie Savage, Andy Todd and Paul Dickov. A Rovers fan wrote in last week complaining and suggested that the epithet be changed only to be shouted down by more Rovers fans who said part of the problem was that we had lost our physicality.

Well that's not entirely helpful, but thanks.

So specific score prediction time then, in going 2-1 to the Nodge, with a glorious last minute winner from a returning Alex Tettey. Armstrong had fired you ahead on 22 minutes, Pukki levels things up just after half time. You?

People who know me well and my special brand of realistic pessimism will expect me to say 3-1 to Norwich, so poops to you all, 1-1.

Norwich to score early, then at half time, champagne cocktails are provided in the home dressing room thanks to Delia who hasn't realised there's still 45 to go.

All away fans are given free Colmans Mustard sachets and entered into a half time draw for a Lotus, second prize is a signed Tim Sherwood gilet. Chris Sutton makes the half time draw and pulls out his own ticket.

Only 8 Norwich players make it out for the re-start, heavily laden with canap'es but gamely hold fast for 43 minutes at which point Hanley and Rhodes come on as subs and combine to score a terrific own goal leaving everyone in the ground satisfied with the outcome. Jordan Rhodes pleads with Tony Mowbray to re-sign him as he knows he'll never play in the Premier League...


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