Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Match Preview: Cherry Chimes talks to the RoverStan blog

Match Preview
Blackburn Rovers V AFCB
Blogger Interview - RoverStan

Cherry Chimes speaks with RoverStan of the RoverStan blog who has some optimism now that Gary Bowyer is bringing some stability to goings on at Ewood Park. Blackburn did not have to play on Saturday, so they played on Sunday when they just fell short against their arch rivals Burnley, but they have also had a heavier defeat to Bolton as well. Please note that the questions were set before the Burnley game when RoverStan did not know the result. I get the feeling that they might prefer to play a southern team this week. So how does RoverStan think Blackburn Rovers will do against the Cherries?

CC: Are you surprised at how Gary Bowyer has started to turn things around so quickly at Blackburn Rovers?

RS: No, not at all. Gary Bowyer proved last season during two spells as caretaker manager that he was capable of steadying the club and saving us from free fall to Division 1. It was with some relief that he took the position full time at the end of the season. He has previously worked with many of the current squad and they seem to want to play for him.

CC: What happened against Bolton the other week?

RS: A previously settled back four was upset by an injury to captain Grant Hanley which prevented him starting the game. Then Matt Kilgallon went off injured. Rovers have been down to the bare bones in recent weeks in that department following Scott Dann’s departure to Crystal Palace. This resulted in players having to play out of position, leaving Robinson exposed at the back. Bowyer has now moved quickly to bring in young centre-back Michael Keane from Manchester United on loan until the end of the season, so expect a much tighter unit to face The Cherries in mid-week.

CC: Which game do you think was the catalyst to the team's recent good form if we discount the Bolton match?

RS: Rather than single out any one game I would say it has been a gradual improvement over the season as the younger players and new signings get to know each other. Gary Bowyer has had to rebuild the squad to try and comply with Financial Fair Play rules. This has meant shipping out players on Premier League wages and replacing them with a mixture of young players from our own Academy together with promising new signings. The return of the experienced Paul Robinson has also been a major factor.

CC: Which players are really in form for you at the moment?

RS: Rudy Gestede has been in fine form in the last few months. He has allowed Rovers to play a more conventional 4-4-2 by partnering Jordan Rhodes. He is good on the ball and in the air. He’s certainly going to be a handful to play against. Tom Cairney is another one to watch. He is the attacking midfield player that Rovers have needed for so long. He will be trying to make the team against Burnley, following injury, and if he does then his contribution can be a game changer for subsequent games as Rovers try to make the top six.

CC: Have you sneaky feeling that you could make the play-offs?

RS: A win against Bournemouth could put us back in the hunt for a play-off place. You have to keep in mind that this time last season we were looking like relegation candidates so to be comfortable in midfield with a chance of a play-off place is a bit of a luxury this season. I think we could achieve the play-offs but if we did get promoted then there would be an awful lot of work to be done to compete at the higher level.

CC: Paul Robinson is back and you've been getting some clean sheets is that no coincidence?

RS: Jake Kean and Simon Eastwood have both played their part in goal over the last couple of seasons but they are both young and still learning their trade. They have both been guilty of goalkeeping errors and the return of Robinson has given a massive boost to the whole team. He suffered a blood clot on a lung following a knee operation and was out for almost a year. Since his return he has been in magnificent form.

CC: You have the Burnley derby the game before meeting AFCB so would the atmosphere for our night game might depend on how well you have played a few days earlier?

RS: I’m sure the players will be treating the Burnley game as just another 3 points but for supporters it is the game of the season. The crowd will be large and Burnley have sold their allocation of 4500 tickets. Such is the rivalry between the two that the police insist that games between Blackburn and Burnley are all ticket and visiting supporters must travel to the game only by coach. This results in a huge fleet of coaches travelling the 5 miles down the M65 accompanied by police for protection. The game on Sunday will mean that some supporters will not afford to come to the Bournemouth game. If we beat Burnley (sadly Blackburn didn't this time) this may encourage a higher attendance. Typically crowds have been down to around 12,000-13,000, a far cry from the 23,000 we would average in the Premier League.

CC: Do you feel that Blackburn would need to shed more high wage players if you don't make it back up this season?

RS: The high earners have mostly been sold now. The exceptions are Robinson, Etuhu and Rhodes. I think we can expect Rhodes to be subject to offers at the end of the season. The key to keeping him will be our own promotion. He must be worth more than the £8M we paid for him.

CC: What has happened to Jordan Rhodes, can you put your finger on why he has not been finding the net of late?

RS: Expect him to find the net very soon! Injuries to wide men King and Marshall has meant that service into the box has been limited. Jordan is capable of scoring goals without that service and has been unlucky in recent games not to score. That was demonstrated with a magnificent strike at Reading a couple of weeks ago which was brilliantly saved by their keeper. He will find the net very soon.

CC: If Blackburn are to reach the play-offs you'll need to beat teams like Bournemouth at home so do you expect an attacking line up from Bowyer?

RS: He should play a 4-4-2 with a fairly settled team with the only unknowns being how well Hanley, Kilgallon, Cairney and Dunn have recovered from injury.

CC: What will Bournemouth fans make of Ewood Park? And is parking good nearby?

RS: Away supporters are accommodated in the Darwen End of the ground. The stadium was rebuilt on 3 sides around 1991 and visiting supporters should enjoy great facilities in the lower tier behind the goal. Those fans travelling by coach will be dropped off in the car park right outside the Darwen End. If travelling by car then there are some car parks nearby but note that the streets nearest the ground are resident only parking and traffic wardens are very active on match days. You can find paid parking on several industrial estates in Lower Darwen on Branch Road. This will give you easy access back to the M65 motorway. The club shop, The Roverstore, has all the usual club memorabilia and is situated at the opposite end to the Darwen End. There are bars inside the ground or away supporters are welcome in the Fernhurst on Bolton Road, which also has hotel accommodation.

CC: Thank you for your answers RoverStan. We have seen that Mr Rhodes is already starting to score the goals again and I am sure our fans will be interested in Rudy Gestede who we have not heard much about and Michael Keane looks a good prospect as an England U21 international. While Blackburn have been on the end of a couple of defeats I think that makes it a much harder game for the Cherries as 3pts will be seen as a must for Gary Bowyer and his men. If you want to catch up with more opinions from RoverStan please have a look at RoverStanblog which has just been updated with a recent report on his visit to the Madejski stadium where Rovers came away with a good 0-1 win. 

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