Welcome to Ask the Oppo! Perry Groves’ Lovechild is still on an extended break so today Eldo71 talks to Simon Reece, a Blackburn season-ticket holder, from Crewe ahead of the Premier League clash against the Arsenal…
Eldo71: You’ll be aware that Arsenal fans don’t have bundles of time for Sam Allardyce…how have you found his tenure as Rovers manager?
SR: I was never really a fan of his at all. At Bolton I thought he did well for them but as an opponent playing his Bolton side you would tend to think he was spoiling each game and merely playing to a strength to get a result. It wasn’t pretty to watch. But when he is manager of your club and you get results because of his tactical know-how you do change your perspective. The best way I can describe it to an Arsenal fan is when George Graham was in charge and you boys used to win 1-0 and after you had scored you would shut up shop. Other fans would be moaning but you boys were probably laughing. And laughing all the way to silverware at that!
Eldo71: So what are your thoughts six games in to the Premier League season on how Blackburn have done so far and the expectations for the season?
SR: We didn’t win any of our first three league games and I have to admit that I was starting to get worried for the season ahead but of late I have renewed faith. After we drew at home to West Ham we beat Wolves convincingly 3-1 then went and lost 3-0 at Everton and you start to wonder again. But beating Villa was a brilliant win for us and I know it came late on but three points against them was a bonus, it really was. Look, we are not going to challenge at the top of the table. But we will have our days in the sun, much as we did beating Villa. We’ll enjoy some surprise victories and we seem to have had a good start to the Carling Cup so perhaps a cup could be on the horizon. Premier League survival and some fun in the cups would do me, though I suspect we’ll be mid-table or above come the end of the season.
Eldo71: Must be nice for you lot this seas seeing as you can shake hands with your pals from Burnley after their promotion to the top flight. I suppose you’ll be delighted to share a pint in the pub with them before the games?
SR: Honestly, this rivalry is as bitter as it gets. They can’t get their head around the fact that for the past how many years we have been the dominant side in the area by a mile. Make that a million miles. And because of this, they have got it in their heads that they have something to prove. Well their fans prove they are nothing but bitter well enough. We’ve got them in two weeks and the police have said they’ll have to come in from Burnley on special buses straight into the ground. It’s going to be, how shall we say, lively!
Eldo71: I see Christopher Samba scored against Villa…he is one hell of a lump isn’t he?
SR: He is, and I think he is getting bigger. Well, certainly better anyway. He is a real nuisance for defenders when he goes forward and from set plays. It’s hard to defend against him because of his strength and size. Let’s just say he suits the style of play the manager is choosing to employ at the minute.
Eldo71: So Blackburn are (let’s not offend him here), er, direct?
SR: Typical Allardyce really. Get the ball in the box where you can hurt the opposition of settle for set plays, free-kicks, corners and provide good delivery.
Eldo71: So do you have players with guile as well then?
SR: Morten Gamst Pedersen’s a fine player as is David Dunn and both possess natural flair going forward and Dunny is still getting fully fit after a terrible run with injuries. More importantly though, it’s the team ethic that counts with Rovers at the minute. If Allardyce can get ’em pulling together that is where the strength will be and not with individuals.
Eldo71: Your keeper, a certain Paul Robinson, will get a fine reception from the Arsenal fans. How do you rate him?
SR: He’s a good keeper but not outstanding. What I would say though is he is a really nice lad, I’ve met him twice and he is such a friendly lad. So don’t give him too much abuse…you never know he might run and celebrate in front of you if he scores!
Eldo71: Arsene Wenger’s first game as Arsenal manager was against Blackburn in 1996 when Ian Wright got two and ensured the Wenger era began with a 2-0 away victory at Ewood Park. But AW has only been able to get the better of an Allardyce team in eight meetings out of 19 in all competitions. So what is your prediction?
SR: My head says 2-0 to you boys but the Allardyce factor has to be taken into consideration. So I’ll go with the heart and Big Sam messing with your boys’ minds and go for 1-1, with our goal being a late leveller as you boys get twitchy with just a 1-0 lead.
Eldo71: I must accept your first answer! Cheers for talking to us and best of luck for the season…in your two matches against T********!