Blackburn Rovers – Miles Away From A Rovers Return

In an interview with the BBC ahead of his first match in charge against Charlton on Saturday, new Blackburn Rovers boss Michael Appleton praised both the infrastructure and the facilities at the club, as well as the ambition of the controversial owners, Venky’s.

Perhaps, the former West Brom midfielder is a little blindsided, considering his only other two jobs in full-time management were cash-strapped Portsmouth, and at Blackpool, where it’s considerably safe to say that the relationship between supporters and chairman Karl Oyston is somewhat frosty.

As the boos rang out at Ewood Park after Appleton lost his first match in charge, he must’ve realised the sheer weight of the task on his hands. Truth of the matter is, Rovers fans haven’t been contented throughout the entire Venky’s reign; even Sam Allardyce wasn’t totally susceptible to criticism from those watching from the stands.

On showings like these, Blackburn are a world from where the majority of fans believe they should be – lining up week in week out against the likes of the Manchester United’s and the Chelsea’s. The recent events at Ewood have been nothing short of a pantomime and with Appleton’s relative inexperience at the helm, it’s uncertain as to whether it shows any signs of stopping.

appleton Is Michael Appleton the man to turn things around?

Matches at home against play-off chasing Brighton, are followed by further league encounters against Bristol City and Ipswich – two sides desperately looking to pick up points to pull them out of relegation trouble. It’s in these matches that we will really find out about the strength and solidarity of Appleton’s side – because in all honesty, consecutive trips away at automatic promotion contenders Leicester and Hull are not likely to be happy ones.

It’s difficult to lay blame at anyone’s feet in the entirety; you can pinpoint the initial sacking of Allardyce, perhaps the fact that Steve Kean was there for a little while too long, and especially the appointment of Henning Berg as manager who, despite a decent reputation amongst the fans, was never truly in control of things on the pitch and has led to a dramatic slide in form. All we know is, a lot of different factors have culminated in Blackburn’s demise and things need to change, and quickly.

Such is the relative tight nature of The Championship at the moment, Blackburn find themselves 10 points off of both the play-off places, as well as the bottom three. The die-hard Rovers fans who ripped into Steve Kean when third in the table may well be looking at themselves long and hard in the mirror.

venkys What next for the Venky’s Corporation?

 

 

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The 72 Review – Hull City

In a new feature, I am enlisting the help of Football League fans up and down the country to give me their own views on how they think the season has gone at their respective clubs – I’ll then work it into a blog and share it wherever I can!

For this installment, we head off to The KC Stadium to review Hull City. Thanks to Matthew Humpleby (@mattyhumpleby) for the responses!

IN YOUR OPINION, WHO HAS BEEN THE BEST PLAYER TO FEATURE FOR YOUR CLUB SO FAR THIS SEASON?
The best player this season in my opinion has been Sone Aluko; I think he is the most skillful player in the league and has made some players look very silly with his tricks aswell as being a very good finisher.

AND THE WORST?
I really cant think of anybody to be named as our worst. All regular squad players have done well for the team this year but if I had to pick a weakest player at the club it would be Paul McKenna.

WHO HAS BEEN THE SIGNING OF THE SEASON FOR YOUR CLUB SO FAR?
This is a difficult question to answer as we have made some great signings. I’ll start with Ahmed Elmohamady, whose crossing has been great but has been lacking a poacher on the end. Sone Aluko was a free agent after leaving Rangers and he is our top scorer and a top player, but for me Stephen Quinn from Sheffield United has been the best signing. He was very cheap with a reported price of 300K and he is a great player. He never stops running and is a classic box to box midfielder who also chips in with goals.

quinn

WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ARRIVE IN THE JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW?
After we have already spent 3.5 million on David Meyler and Robbie Brady (who have done well for us when on loan) I would like to see a new goalkeeper; preferably David Stockdale from Fulham who has done well when he was on loan earlier on the season. I also think a striker is very important to put chances away.

YOUR VIEWS ON THE MANAGER?
I don’t think Hull fans can complain! We currently sit 2nd in the league and I think Steve Bruce needs just one or two more acquisitions in order to see us through.

 
AND FINALLY, YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON?
At the beginning of the season I thought top 6 was a realistic finish, but after we have done so well in the first half of the season I think top 6 is almost guaranteed and automatic promotion is definitely achievable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 72 View:-

Since relegation from the Premiership in 2010, the Hull City supporters have always strived to head back there. A slightly disappointing 8th place finish last time around, and Steve Bruce was appointed in the summer of 2012. He has led the Tigers to second place in what has been a fantastic season so far, and despite being 8 points adrift of leaders Cardiff, there is a sincere feeling that Hull could be headed back for the big time. Despite the leading goalscorer only having notched 8 so far, Bruce has now added strikers David McGoldrick and Aaron McLean to his squad in the hope that they will provide the necessary firepower to lead an automatic promotion charge.

The 72 Review – Oxford United

In a new feature, I am enlisting the help of Football League fans up and down the country to give me their own views on how they think the season has gone at their respective clubs – I’ll then work it into a blog and share it wherever I can!

For this installment, we head off to The Kassam Stadium to review Oxford United.  Thanks to Jennie Dent (@x_Jen_xx) for the responses!

IN YOUR OPINION, WHO HAS BEEN THE BEST PLAYER TO FEATURE FOR YOUR CLUB SO FAR THIS SEASON?
It’ll have to be Sean Rigg or Peter Leven – different types of players but I can’t choose between them!

AND THE WORST?
In my own opinion, Tony Capaldi – although other Oxford fans may not agree.

WHO HAS BEEN THE SIGNING OF THE SEASON FOR YOUR CLUB SO FAR?
Sean Rigg – he had a slow start but he’s now proved himself and has become a vital asset to the first team.

rigg

WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ARRIVE IN THE JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW?
I’m happy with the majority of our players, however we perhaps need another striker – we brought in Justin Richards but I’m not a fan!

YOUR VIEWS ON THE MANAGER?
Oxford fans are generall extremely fickle on Chris Wilder. Some of his decisions can be bewildering, especially on Saturday when he changed the team and the formation! A lot of Oxford fans want him out, but we’ve won 4 in a row so for now he should stay put. We’ll have to see where we finish at the end of the season; if we don’t reach the playoffs and we encounter a slow start to next season, he’ll be out.

 
AND FINALLY, YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON?
I’m hoping that we can grab a play-off place, but with some very tough fixtures coming up I doubt we will reach them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 72 View:-

Chris Wilder’s men currently find themselves just 2 points off of the all important play-off places, sitting in 11th place. The problem being is that the league is extremely tight and inconsistency on Oxford’s part is one of the reasons why Wilder himself comes under scrutiny from various sections of the Kassam faithful. A recent good run of form, including 3 very impressive away wins, most recently at the hands of giant-killing Bradford City. Oxford fans will be desperately looking to maintain this form as we head into the business end of the season.

The 72 Review – Leicester City

In a new feature, I am enlisting the help of Football League fans up and down the country to give me their own views on how they think the season has gone at their respective clubs – I’ll then work it into a blog and share it wherever I can!

For this installment, we head off to The King Power Stadium to review Leicester City.  Thanks to Dan Smith (@Danjs09) for the responses!

IN YOUR OPINION, WHO HAS BEEN THE BEST PLAYER TO FEATURE FOR YOUR CLUB SO FAR THIS SEASON?
It’s difficult to pick just one player; Wes Morgan has dominated the defence and brought a new solid dimension to our back 4, we use to leak some silly goals last season and he seems to have put a stop to that. Going forward, David Nugent as top scorer springs to mind. Danny Drinkwater has also been key to some of our games, when he performs the whole team plays well and when he has an off game in the middle of the park, the rest of the team sometimes struggles.

AND THE WORST?
The whole team has seemed to work well together, The two that haven’t had much game time, Jamie Vardy and Marko Futacs some might argue were ‘bad’ signings, but they both come off the bench when called upon and have provided vital goals. Jesse Lingard on loan from Man United didn’t play many games and has returned to Manchester, he never really fitted into the team and only came off the bench towards the end of the game.

WHO HAS BEEN THE SIGNING OF THE SEASON FOR YOUR CLUB SO FAR?
Anthony Knockaert, the tricky French winger has provided a whole new dimension going forward for The Foxes – he has terrific skill on the ball and can hit a decent dead ball. He also seems to like scoring against Huddersfield with 4 goals in 2 games, which is good when we have them in the 4th round of FA Cup! New Years Day signing Chris Wood has also fitted straight into the side, scoring 6 goals in 3 games, The young striker has helped fire Leicester up to third and within a chance of getting back among the automatic places.

knock

WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ARRIVE IN THE JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW?
I think the team is almost there to push for promotion this season, we’re talking about bringing someone in to the midfield but I don’t think any names have been mentioned yet. It looks like Neil Danns will leave the club in the summer so maybe we’re a bit short in the centre now with only James, King and Drinkwater.

YOUR VIEWS ON THE MANAGER?
Nigel Pearson has come back for a second spell at Leicester after getting us out of League 1 at the first time of asking and into the Championship play-off semi-finals in his first spell at the club. This was before he was forced out to Hull City. When he returned from Hull after Sousa and Sven, Pearson steadied the ship finishing 10th last season and this season we’ve started fantastically in the first half of the season. Along with his back room staff Pearson has a fantastic eye for young talent, signing a whole new midfield with James, Drinkwater, Knockaert and Marshall along with Keane, a solid centre back on loan from Man United. He seems to have won over the fans that were dubious about his return.

 
AND FINALLY, YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON?
If we can keep up the momentum and results we’ve got at the minute then an automatic spot wouldn’t be unreasonable, City always seem to falter around February before picking up again so maybe a play-off spot is where we’ll end up, but for now we have to push forward and chase down Cardiff at the top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 72 View:-

Leicester City have had a topsy-turvy last few seasons but the ship appears to have been somewhat steadied due to the return of Nigel Pearson for a second spell at the club. The Foxes, with a Championship-strength squad have a bit of money to spend and are finally imposing themself as Championship contenders. They currently sit in 3rd place, 10 points behind leaders Cardiff, so perhaps the 2nd automatic promotion spot is more within their grasp – but the recent signing of Chris Wood alongside the obvious goal threat of David Nugent and the impressive Anthony Knockaert can do nothing but assist their cause. This could finally be Leicester’s season as they look for a route back to where the majority of supporters believe that they belong.