A Double Blackburn Rover Fan Interview
Mikey Delap and BomBom from Vital Blackburn have taken the time and trouble to do a post match dissection of the FA Cup and Carling semi 1st leg + looking ahead to Wednesday nights massive 2nd leg game v Villa.
1) First of all, are you getting sick of the sight of us?! The win at Ewood Park in the league was fair, I think our boys seemed to turn up just expecting to win, something we can't and should never try to do. Then the FA Cup win to us. Any arguments with that at your end?
Mikey Delap: No arguments here, Sam and the lads whilst on a quest for fitness didn't seem to bothered about the FA Cup due to League Cup semi coming up and so the game was just a kick about which (fair enough) you lot played better than us in. The League clash was one of our performances of the season - the Villa seemed complacent as you say and the fans certainly just expected victory and as often can be the case when that happens, it comes back to nib you on the sweet behind!
I wouldn't say I am sick of the sight of Birmingham's better half - I have a soft spot for Villa, which is slightly softer since you have a player that I admire in Stephen Warnock and a player that I consider one of the all time greats in Brad Friedel playing for you.
I have also never had any problems with Villa fans as I have also liaised with plenty of you on Vital Aston Villa and the banter is always risqué... but ultimately in good humour (unlike Spurs).
BomBom I'm not sick of Villa, I'm sick of you cherry picking or better players for pittance. Friedel for a bag of oranges and some corner flags and Stephen Warnock, well, he is one of the most consistent LB’s in the Premiership and you got him for 8 Million!!!! Check what Glen Johnson went for to Liverpool! Point made eh? LOL. The FA cup was sacrificed as far i am concerned for the League and League Cup, the league win was fortuitous but overall probably deserved.
2) The first leg of the Carling Cup semi final, fair result do you think or .... ? What did you think of our two penalty claims? Both seemed clear penalties to me - with my claret and blue spectacles taken off - and the pundits!?
Mikey Delap: Sadly the pundits are never on Rovers side (if you need anymore proof listen to the pundits in our recent match v Fulham - it was disgusting!) so I never expect an easy ride off of them. As for the penalty claims I feel that the second one should have been given but the Gabby Agbonlahor one should have not. Gabby was on his way down before even making contact with Big Chris. You might not like that call but sadly it is true... watch it again if in doubt.
As for the result itself I personally feel it should have been more like 3-2 to Villa. You deserved to win on the night due to our technically inept display in the first half and had plenty of chances but Rovers came back strong and how Niko Kalinic didn't score is a question god can barely answer.
The margin of victory was right but there should have been more goals in the game.
BomBom The first leg of the LC was, again, lucky for us as we were pathetic in the first half and after the first goal Villa took their foot of the pedal and it could’ve even ended 2-1 to Rovers if it wasn’t for a few layers of paint! You've taken off the claret and blue tinted specs but forgot about the contact lenses! Gabby Agbonla(w)hor made such a meal of the first one. To be fair, Samba hadn’t touched him by the time he was falling, sorry diving for the penalty. Had he stayed up a moment or 2 longer then I think Samba would’ve made contact but what he did was dive, plain and simple, accept and move on Mr. Fear! No complaints with the Chimbonda handball, was amazed that we got a free kick tbh. Overall, a fair result given the poor first half but be warned, the Win at Fulham has given us a chance come Wednesday. If we line up 442, be worried, if we line up 451 or 4411, start celebrating!
3) Who was your player who hit the bar and caused us a few problems, he seemed a decent handful?
Mikey Delap: That was the aforementioned Nikola Kalinic. He was bought from Hadjuk Split in the summer for £6 million. Sam bought him for the long term and has barely played him - which is a shame as he has come on leaps and bounds since a fairly tame start away at Sunderland back in September.
The Croatian has yet to score for the Rovers in the league as of yet but he has looked the business when he has been on and is expected to make big waves over the next couple of seasons.
BomBom We don’t know, we hardly see him from week to week!!!! LOL Seriously though, that was our marquee summer splurge, Croatian International Nikola Kalinic. He looks increasingly more and more like a very good player and a snip at 6 million. If and when he starts scoring, he will be a dangerous player, considering he's only 20/21. Unfortunately, Big Sam is pulling a Fergie and “protecting” the lad; he doesn’t want him to get a run in the side, not score and “destroy his confidence” apparently, yet its ok to do that to Chelsea loanee Franko Di Santo, who has scored a blistering 1 this term in the league, but yes, thanks for the highlighting of the future of Blackburn Rovers, lets hope he makes you take even more notice Wednesday evening ;)
4) Paul Robinson also looks to have settled in and he made a few good saves, should he be in contention for the plane to South Africa with England do you think?
Mikey Delap: Without any doubt whatsoever yes. Has there been any better English goalkeeper this season based on consistency and on field performances. You could argue Joe Hart of your neighbours but he has easily been better than David James, Robert Green and Chris Kirkland. Ben Foster only gets in the squad because he plays for Trafford FC as well.
People may point to our goals against column but then I would point at our defence and the fact that basically all of the goals we have conceded are as a result of Robbo being given no chance.
He may have a weakness from long range but the coaching staff have apparently been working on this with him in recent months and as a result had tidied up this part of his game.
So finally, in answer to your question, if Fabio is picking players on form and picking the best 3 goalies he has available to him... then he would be mad not to take him.
BomBom Robbo is a decent keeper but he's not at top of his game IMO. Its tough for him at Rovers too as he is compared to quite probably the best Keeper of the last 10 years in Friedel. He's a good keeper but IMO struggles to keep his concentration. He will be lucky to be on that plane heading South come the summer.
5) What are your expectations of this weeks 2nd leg, still in the balance according to MON, what is the talk at Blackburn, still confident of getting to the final?
Mikey Delap: Due to the fact we have managed to actually register a win at the weekend after so long without one, we seem to be getting back on track after some wildly inaccurate reports of dressing room unrest.
The tie IS still in the balance, it always is with one goal in it and MON is correct. We have to be confident of getting there, we have shown that we can beat teams with quality players if we reach the correct levels of performance ourselves...
I expect us to give it a good go and to not be so one dimensional in our play, we became to predictable until we switched Pascal Chimbonda to right back in the first leg but when we hit the wings we became a real threat to Villa after playing into your hands with the long ball.
I expect a close affair and to maybe cause an upset.
BomBom The Fulham result has helped but as I mentioned already, if we go 442 with a decent line up, anything's possible. If we go 451 or the like, I don’t think i could bear to watch!
6) You seem to have had a bad injury run, are any back for Wednesday night and if so, who should we be watching out for?
Mikey Delap: I wouldn't say we have a bad injury run exactly. We seemed to have two players coming back into the side as two get injured so it has been difficult to get a settled side this season. Vince Grella will be out injured who can be a big player for us if he wasn't made of freaking paper and Diouf is out suspended for being a stroppy little girl but apart from that we are good to go.
Villa should be keeping an eye out for David Dunn, Benni McCarthy, Nikola Kalinic and Chris Samba. If we are going to cause you problems... one of those four will likely cause them. But if anyone else fancies stepping up to the plate then that would be good!
BomBom Rumour has it there was a bust up with Andrews and Big Sam after the Man City game, hence why he didn’t make the squad for the first leg so i think you can rest easy in the knowledge that you wont have to face the mighty Keith Andrews, otherwise its as we were come Weds!
7) Who do you fear the most at Villa and if you could have a couple of players, who would they be and why?
Mikey Delap: Rovers always seem to struggle with pace so the players that are likely to do the damage are Gabby Agbonlahor, Ashley Young and to a certain extent, the surprisingly good Stewart Downing.
As for who I would pinch from you, I will take James Milner on a bosman free and Stilyan Petrov on loan for two seasons... where do I sign?
BomBom Toughie JP, toughie. Fear.....i suppose it would be Agbonlahor with his pace up front, Young with his pace out wide, Milner with his pace., see a pattern forming? Guzan in goal is a bonus for Rovers fans, no matter how good the lad is and he is a talent, he isn’t the impenetrable Brad that we know, so that's a plus from a supporters point of view IMO. If i could cherry pick a couple of players it would probably be Young and Gabby for their pace, we desperately need pace in the team and I would take Stevie Wee back too, we miss that balance at left back that he provided, while making Gamst’s job a tad easier with his forward runs.
8) If you made it to Wembley, who would you most like to face, Man Utd or Man City and if we made it, would you want us or one of the Manchester teams to win?!
Mikey Delap: I wouldn't actually be bothered about who we played as we would just be there! But if you were to push me I would say (some may surprisingly) Man United. I feel they are a better bet to play at present as they would likely play a blend of kids as well as the big players and are in some sort of rut - well as much of a rut as you can be in for being 2nd in the league.
City to me are on the rise (obvious point of the day aside).
If it was Villa v the Manchester clubs in the final this would be a strange answer.
If it was City v Villa in the final I would want City to win - my brother Jonny is a massive Man City fan and I would want him to have some glory.
If it was Villa v Man United in the final I would want Villa to win all the way. I hate Man United and find them all a detestable bunch of egomaniacs.
BomBom Speaking like a true Rovers fan, Man City, better chance to win IMO, speaking as a cynical Rovers fan, I couldn’t care less as whoever we face will finish in a European spot and therefore we get into the Europa Cup next season by proxy :D So bring on the Mancs LOL Whomever gets through “our” Semi Final I want to win the Final, I hate Man Ure with a passion, i think most real football fans that aren’t living in London do LOL Also, I have no pity for Man City, nothing against them, like the team and great fans but they are playing a real life game of Football Manager aren’t they, how many strikers do they have that would get into nearly every premier league teams starting 11? 5? 6? Ridiculous LOL.
9) Big Sam, starting to get criticism already from what I've read. What do you think and is the criticism fair?
Mikey Delap: I am a positive chap and I like to think I am a fair person as well so I will be as objective as I can be.
I think Big Sam doesn't help himself, he ignores the pleas of the fans to a certain extent and just stick to what he knows and when you do that you are always going to cop come flak when things start going the shape of a pear.
But at the same time some of the knee jerk reactions of some Rovers fans is just baffling. Sam kept us up last season and we knew what we were getting when he signed a three year deal, it was an effective way of keeping the club safe but it wasn't going to be pretty.
Despite a bad run we will still finish 11th/12th in the League but it won't be too fun to watch.
I am happy with Sam but he needs to learn that some of his tactics do not bring out the best in the side and we have lost points due to his caution.
BomBom I know I've already written half a dissertation but I could write for hours on this subject, I wont but I could. IMHO, Sams biggest problem is his stubbornness for sticking with a formation and tactics that don’t work, his refusal to adjust them to start a match, then sub 2 players at half time, essentially admitting that he got the starting line up wrong! He is also quite arrogant towards the fans, the one comment about him being the “expert” not the fans, just as Rovers started a 9 game winless streak LOL, oops maybe? He needs, in my opinion, to play a formation that plays into the strengths of the players he has at his disposal, not simply go “this is the way Big Sam teams play, do it!” I cannot see him staying beyond his current contract, which expires in Summer 2011, even more so with his current health issues so overall, I feel the criticism is more than fair and the upturn on Sunday has to continue if he doesn’t want any more pressure to mount!
10) Prediction for the 2nd leg game then please?
Mikey Delap: I am going to go for the upset as I am a believer. I think it will be close (closer than a lot of you think) and I think we can catch you off guard. I will go for a 2-1 win to Rovers after extra time with Blackburn going through on away goals.
Gabby will score for Villa with Kalinic and N'Zonzi scoring for the Blue and White.
BomBom Head or heart, head or heart? Head 1-1, you go through 2-1 on aggregate, Heart 2-1 Rovers, we go through on away goals after extra time.
11) See you on the last day of the season!
Mikey Delap Absolutely, fun times as always
BomBom Hopefully looking forward to another season of Premiership football. Good luck to you in cracking the top 4, lets send Liverpool into financial meltdown and get in there!
With thanks to BomBom and Mikey Delap from www.blackburn.vitalfootball.co.uk