Saturday, May 14, 2011

An act of sporting cowardice we will live to regret

Who else remembers West Germany and Austria playing out a tepid game at the World Cup in 1982? It ensured they both qualified for the next stage of the competition.

The last 15 minutes of the visit of Manchester United to Ewood Park today was something like that. An act of sporting cowardice that we will live to regret next Sunday. Once Wayne Rooney had converted his penalty, and the idiots in the Rovers support had hunted down the rogue United fans in their midst and pointed at them, the game was reduced to a farce. Neither side made any effort to create a chance, stretch the opposition or score a goal. Given that both Wolves and Blackpool won, this wasn't exactly the ideal result for us. What made it worse was the quality of the performance for the middle part of the game. Rovers attacked them, defended brilliantly and apart from a couple of wayward passes, we saw the best from Jermaine Jones.

In my view, the best Rovers manager in my lifetime was Mark Hughes, because no matter where we were, or who we played, Rovers always went out with a sense of professionalism and a will to win. I cannot believe the surreal events of today would have happened had Sparky been in charge. Even when Fulham were stuffed last week - 3-0 down at half time - they tried to claw something back. But Steve Kean played to the agenda set by Sir Alex, despite the fact that United were there for the taking. They scabbed a penalty, like they always seem to, but a bit of application and another goal wasn't out of the question. Why would trying to get a goal lead to them scoring? I don't get it. Even some long balls to JR and Pedersen running at them could have exposed flaky Ferdinand and the dodgy keeper. No, high fives all round and see you in San Carlo later lads. Enjoy your party.

I really worry about our football club. What is this booing of Keith Andrews all about? What is it with this timidity in the face of Manchester United? The first 20 minutes produced a limp stand-offish performance. Fair play to Martin Olsson, the Zonz and the Jones boys for playing with a bit of pride and injecting the idea that this was winnable. And as for Samba. He is a colossus.

And so we go to in-form on-fire Wolves with them thinking - "let's do these in style". Blackpool will face United's reserves and win. I guarantee it. What stands between us and a dramatic relegation is teams with nothing to play for showing some guts - hopefully we can count in that number Mark Hughes and his pride, professionalism and a desire for Fulham to finish 8th.

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