Club Focus – Blackburn – Martin Olsson admits to diving

The fall out continues, following last weekend’s local derby between bitter rivals Blackburn Rovers and Burnley.

The game was won by a controversial penalty, which was given for what is now an admitted dive by Swedish left-back Martin Olsson. The youngster bizarrely came clean about the situation, leaving Burnley boss Brian Laws fuming. Moreover, Olsson claimed that referee Mike Dean had statistically given more penalties than other referees, therefore he took his chance and went down in the area. Quite obviously, this has sparked anger not only amongst Burnley supporters, but also throughout the country, especially due to the fact that Olsson has escaped without punishment, even after his post-match comments.

Clearly, the event has revealed that simulation is now barely just another tactic in the beautiful game. Whilst the extent of targeting referees based on their previous disciplinary actions is unknown, it seems obvious that Olsson is not the only player who checks the statistics of match officials prior to the game to see whether there is any advantage to be claimed. His admittance without punishment might now spark other like-minded players to start doing the same, which is definitely not good for football. Mike Dean will now take charge of the crunch game between Manchester United and Chelsea, though one wonders whether he will be up to it following this controversy. As for Olsson, manager Sam Allardyce feels that the image of the club has been tarnished, therefore he says the matter has been dealt with internally. To be fair to Blackburn, Rovers have only had one yellow card for simulation this season, which somewhat explains that they are not a cheating club. One thing is for sure though, it will be a long time before Martin Olsson gets another penalty when he takes a tumble in the area.

Meanwhile, the other big story coming out of Ewood Park this week is the imminent signing of Ivory Coast international Aruna Dindane, who is currently on loan at Portsmouth. A fee has been agreed with his parent club Lens, which is thought to be around the £2m mark. Should the deal go through, Allardyce would allow the striker to remain at Portsmouth for the rest of the season, making him available for the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham. Allardyce has been interested in Dindane for a while now, having failed to bring the forward in during the January transfer window. The purchase of Dindane, who replaces the previously outgoing Benni McCarthy, is somewhat welcome at Blackburn, who are short on strikers. Rovers currently have only Kalinic, Roberts and Di Santo as options up front, the latter of which is on loan from Chelsea. Big Sam will look to bring at least one more striker to the club before next season.

Dindane’s arrival will give Rovers another option and the striker has proven his ability to score goals on a consistent basis. He has scored five goals for Portsmouth in 17 appearances, which is not the best achievement ever, but still represents a decent return. Dindane is a very unpredictable striker based on his performances in the league so far. On some days, he can prove to be a real handful, as Wigan witnessed in October, where he managed to score an impressive hat-trick. However, he can forget his shooting boots on other occasions, which will no doubt frustrate some of the Ewood faithful. The signing is therefore questionable for the time being, though for the lack of money Blackburn have available, it is a reasonable piece of business by Allardyce.

Looking ahead, Blackburn face Portsmouth at Fratton Park this weekend, looking to extend their run of unbeaten games to four, having taken seven points from their last nine. The target for Blackburn should now be a top half finish and following only their second away victory this season against Burnley, Allardyce will again be looking for another three points on his travels against a struggling Portsmouth side. Pompey are without several key players thanks largely due to injury, whilst Blackburn should have a full-strength squad to select from, bar goalkeeper Paul Robinson who is still out injured. Rovers won the fixture earlier in the season, with Jason Roberts scoring a brace and David Dunn also getting on the score sheet resulting in a 3-1 win. With all seeming to go against Portsmouth at the moment, coupled with Blackburn’s good form, Rovers would be expected to continue their impressive run and claim victory.

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