Club Focus – Blackburn Rovers – Sam Allardyce defends Blackburn’s abrasive style

Football is a very strange game. Journalists at the Blackburn Rovers press conference last Thursday were handed a sheet of paper entitled ‘BRFC Disciplinary Record – Let’s concentrate on the facts …’

This page included several statistics about the team’s improving discipline in the Premier League under Sam Allardyce. The facts were of course provoked by Fulham midfielder Danny Murphy’s earlier comments surrounding dangerous tackling in the game – in which he pointed the finger at the managers of Stoke, Wolves and Blackburn, for apparently instructing their players to cause damage to opponents.

Big Sam reacted angrily to those claims and rightfully so. Blackburn may play to their strengths and approach games in a more direct manner; however it would be hugely unfair and disrespectful to brand them a ‘dirty’ side.

One of the facts revealed in the document was that only one Blackburn player had been shown a red card in the whole of 2010. That was defender Chris Samba who was dismissed against Stoke back in February. Allardyce took great pride in that particular fact.

But, out of all the games that could have seen a Rovers player sent off for only the second time in 2010, it would have to be this one. What a coincidence. Skipper Chris Samba was dismissed in Monday night’s fixture against Sunderland, meaning the Lancashire outfit had to play over an entire half with just ten men.

Big Sam was quick to admit the decision was correct, but Samba’s crime was not as damaging as tackles that have been seen recently in the Premier League. Crucially for Rovers, the assistant linesman deemed that Danny Welbeck, Samba’s victim, had been brought down just outside the area. The resulting free kick was poor.

Samba’s dismissal did not really change the game. It had hardly been a spectacle before the incident. The home side created one notable chance in the first period, with Morten Gamst Pedersen’s dangerously dipping free kick nearly catching Sunderland stopper Simon Mignolet out, but the Belgian managed to prevent a goal. The Black Cats had one brilliant opportunity of their own, with star striker Darren Bent, running one-on-one with the goalkeeper, forcing a wonderful save from the outstanding Paul Robinson. The English forward would have tucked that chance away nine times out of ten.

Rovers did not really appear to be missing a man in the second half, thanks to Big Sam’s readjustment of the team at half time. Even David Dunn managed to come on as a substitute, much to the delight of the home crowd. Sunderland’s big-money signing Asamoah Gyan had a chance to seal the points for his side, but his curling effort was expertly kept out by man-of-the-match Robinson to keep the score level.

There were plenty of positives from the game, notably Blackburn’s resilient performance which saw them hold on to a point despite playing much of the game with ten men. El-Hadji Diouf’s fine form continued too, as he played some pleasing football. David Dunn’s return is another encouraging sign for the Blues. It also appears that Rovers have managed to clinch to signing of Frenchman Herold Goulon. The former Le Mans midfielder will join the Lancashire side on a free transfer. Following a reasonable start to the week, Rovers can look forward to a trip to Anfield this weekend.

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