The Opposition View - Blackburn
1. What were your expectations before the season started? Are you probably about where you expected to be?
We have got a good squad with some very talented players and had a very strong finish to the season last year and managed to keep Rhodes so the majority of fans felt we should be getting into the playoffs at the very least. So unfortunately we are not where we expected to be at all!
2. What do you foresee for Blackburn next season? A promotion push? A play-off push? Mid table? Or impossible to tell until the summer?
Next season could be a tough one; Blackburn are now over £80 million in debt and attendances have been hovering around the 13,000 mark so there isnt much of a 'feel good' factor around Ewood Park at the moment. Looks like quite a few players (Josh King leaving on a free, Jordan Rhodes, Rudy Gestede etc) will be linked with moves away in the summer and with the club so far in debt you wonder whether they can continue to turn down big money moves for our best players? I dont think they could. A lot of Blackburn fans expect both Rhodes and Gestede to leave the club during the summer, and you fear for a team whose line is being lead by Chris Brown and Luke Varney!
Personally I feel one of Rhodes/Gestede will leave and it will be another mid-table season; but its always a rollercoaster at Ewood!
3. You had a great recent run in the FA Cup, which sadly came to an end against Liverpool. Would you rather have a play-off place guaranteed or an FA Cup Final trip to Wembley?
From a club perspective with our dire financials it would be the playoffs, however an FA Cup final would have been great as it would have been amazing to follow Blackburn Rovers in Europe! Fantastic performance by the lads against Liverpool, it was a great atmosphere and an enjoyable night! Just a shame one of our best chances in the whole game fell to our goalkeeper! Would really like to wish you the best of the luck in the FA Cup, dont worry its only Arsenal!!
4. Gary Bowyer has nearly finished his second full season in charge of Rovers, how would you evaluate his two years in charge? Has there been improvement over that time?
Gary Bowyer is quite the controversial subject for Blackburn Rovers fans at the moment. Venky's bought the club and were embarrassingly talking about signing Beckham, Raul and Ronaldinho but instead we signed Bradley Orr and Mauro Formica! Then of course there was the Steve Kean saga which was a humiliation for the club and its fanbase; so really when we finally appointed Gary Bowyer he did a brilliant job steadying the ship. He is Mr. Consistency and thats what the club needed at that time.
However now its two years into his tenure and we havent been in contention for promotion and a lot of fans are wondering whether he is the right man to get the club back to the promised land. The media, especially after the FA Cup run, are full of praise for him and for the job hes done but it can be so frustrating watching Blackburn these days and we look like we are just treading water. Is he the right man to achieve promotion? Probably not. I hear Mark Warburton is looking for a club next season and likes to work on a shoestring budget...
5. Which Blackburn player(s) are really excelling so far this season?
Rudy Gestede has been a brilliant buy, hes had a very good year and opposition defences really struggle to deal with him. Our young Welsh right-back Adam Henley has been absolutely outstanding this season, as has defensive midfielder Lee Williamson. Surprisingly on-loan defender Alex Baptiste has been arguably one of our best players this season, an absolute rock at the back!
6. If you could take any Reading player, who would it be and why?
I expected Reading to be right in the playoff mix this season so im surprised to see you where you are! Always thought it was a well-run club with a decent fan base and a good squad. Adam Federici has had a great season at Reading hasnt he, so maybe him. Would also like to see Jordan Obita or an in-form Garath Mccleary in a different shade of blue and white!
7. What starting XI and shape do you expect to see from Bowyer on Saturday?
Our away form has been good recently and we've done very well with a 4-4-2 so I'd expect him to carry on with a similar formation. A lot of players are carrying little niggles so I don't think we will be able to play our best 11. Conway and Baptiste looked like they both picked up injuries in the Liverpool game and that will force us to change things around yet again. I think it will be Steele, Henley, Spurr, Kilgallon, Olsson, Marshall, Evans, Williamson, Cairney, Brown, Rhodes.
8. Prediction for the game?
Unfortunately for us both seems like its very much an end-of-season game, Reading seem safe now and the playoffs are a distant dream for Blackburn. Our away form has been good but perhaps motivation will be lacking a bit following a brave 1-0 defeat to Liverpool, and of course youve got bigger fish to fry with the FA Cup semi-final coming up. I'll say 1-1!