The Opposition View - Blackburn
1. What were your expectations before the season started?
A definite strong push for promotion considering the squad we had and I would have at least expected to make the playoffs.
2. After a hit and miss start to the season and seeing Gary Bowyer in his first few months of being permanently in charge, where do you think will finish?
We are certainly on course for top half finish, but at this stage we'll be lucky to finish top 6, as we are losing too many points in games where we should be winning them.
3. How did you view the permanent appointment of Gary Bowyer, after the perceived failures of Steve Kean, Henning Berg and Michael Appleton?
A change was needed a long time ago, but all this mess could and should have been avoided had Sam Allardyce not been sacked. The appointment of Gary Bowyer was some relief as he knows the club inside out & the club need that some sort of stability now. He's an aspiring manager and out of the three previous managers, Michael Appleton wasn't given enough time. However he probably wasn't the ideal man for the job, but he recruited well in not only on the pitch but the staff off it as well. I was really disappointed in Henning as he was a club favourite as a player as a player, but tactically I thought he was inept and had no leadership qualities.
4. How much damage have the owners done to your club? From the outside, it seems they have very little support from Blackburn fans, is this very much the case?
There is no question that the owners have damaged the club & again could have been avoided if they had listened to the directors, especially to John Williams and Tom Finn when they arrived. They chose not to and have been so badly ill-advised by agents & advisors resulting in this debacle that we are trying to get out of, some of which damage is irreversible.
Rovers still have a decent amount of supporters backing 'the club' but not the owners. The faith in them has dwindled but they are really trying to patch over damage caused but their investment has backfired leaving us in a position where we will do well to get back into the Premiership.
5. Who is your stand out player at the moment? Even except Jordan Rhodes?
Very tough question, but I've been impressed with the additions of respective full backs of Tommy Spurr and Todd Kane. In Tommy Spurr, Gary has signed the best left back since Stephen Warnock and that was a long time ago!!
Hanley and Dann are still putting in good shifts as well as Corry Evans, who has given us a bit more grit in midfield. Overall I have to say that Josh King has made the best impression. His pace is terrifying & if he can keep a consistent level he could propel the club up the table.
6. If you could take any Reading player at the moment, who would it be and why?
On paper Reading have invested so well over the summer but some of the signings haven't hit the ground running. I've always been a fan of Le-Fondre (ALF) but from what I've seen, Alex McCarthy has been the standout player. He's been in impressive form and holding Federici out is no mean feat. He certainly could become a future keeper for England.
7. Jason Roberts spent six seasons at Ewood Park - sum up your opinion of him as a person and as a player.
He is a model professional who has worked incredibly hard (right from the bottom) to get where he is now and he will always take his work seriously, rising to many a challenge. He isn't an out & out striker but you'll certainly get your graft from a powerful forward and will score a decent level of goals in a fitting partnership.
Jason and one or two other players were treated terribly and ultimately led to their departure from the club over an alleged clause in their contracts, but he hasn't said anything, didn't complain and thanked the club when he left.
Off the pitch, he's a genuine good guy with a level-head. This is shown in his tireless work both in the UK and his native Grenada supporting communities and young people and deservedly was awarded an MBE in 2009. Also, he is the only person I know who can get away wearing trainers with a suit.
8. With yourself being a follower of Northern Ireland, you will be familiar with Chris Baird. He has struck us Reading fans as a reliable player in midfield, who doesn`t necessarily stand out, but does the simple stuff right. Would you agree with this?
It amazed me that he remained unattached for as long as he did. He'll certainly do a job in midfield but his main position started out as centre half. To be honest he'll be the most versatile player a club will ever get and I think the only positions I haven't seen him play are in goals and upfront. He will fit in anywhere across the backline as well in wide midfield positions but now I don't think he'd have the pace for the latter roles. What will stand out from him are goals, however they are rare but usually of a high quality.
9. Can you recollect about Jimmy Quinn and his abilities as a player?
Jimmy was a fine forward for Northern Ireland and would have been one of the first players I remember playing for our country. He certainly was a target man who would get you goals, but When he arrived at Rovers he struggled to get in the side as they were pushing for promotion. Eventually he did get a run and formed a decent partnership with Rovers stalwart Simon Garner and the late Chris Thompson. He scored a 'perfect hat-trick' as his first season drew to a close but missed out on promotion to the top division.
His 2nd season at Rovers started well, but sadly drifted towards a relegation battle and he endured a fair bit of abuse from the stands as the club narrowly avoided relegation to the 3rd division on the last day of the season. He then joined Swindon but scoring just over 20 goals in two seasons is a decent return.
On the other hand his work that he had done for Reading fell nothing short of miraculous and that is the club where he certainly made the name for himself as a player and manager and in a combined role he just missed out on guiding Reading to the Premiership!!! He certainly deserves a return into the game at either management or coaching, as he still has a lot to offer.
10. What starting XI and shape do you expect to see on Saturday from Bowyer?
- It's hard to predict but probably 4-4-1-1. In order to create your home as a fortress you need to be attack orientated but he's trying to work with Jordan as a single striker and this isn't fair on him. We've pacy wingers and should be playing 4-4-2 emphasising the roles of the wingers and playing either Campbell or Best upfront alongside Jordan.
11. What is your prediction for the game?
Not making excuses but we're missing a few players with notable absentees in Rochina, DJ Campbell and Corry Evans. I'm sure you'll also be glad to hear that Jordan, Grant Hanley and Josh King are injury doubts for the game, but might pass late fitness checks. It'll be a very tough encounter and with your strong forward line, I will expect you to score. I will go for 1-1 and Marshall to grab our goal.