MATCH PREVIEW: BLACKBURN ROVERS VS WOLVES

Rob Edwards in temporary charge for visit to strugglers

Preamble

The post-Walter Zenga era begins at Ewood Park; reaction to his time in charge and departure is here and while most of us were well disposed towards the man, it’s time to move on and look to pull us out of the run which ultimately cost him his job. Under any circumstances this would be viewed as a clear target for three points given the travails of the home team; in our current situation of having picked up one point from the last five games and tumbling down the table, already seven points off the top six, we’re almost entering the territory of a must win game. The likes of Aston Villa and Cardiff have recently reaped the benefits of a managerial change – both similarly ditching someone only appointed in the summer – and we must hope that we can do similar. Getting into positions where you’re looking at a 10+ point deficit to the playoff spots and trying to convince yourself that ‘if we can put a run together, we can still make it’ is much more often than not a forlorn hope.

saunders3
Of course some idiots pledge to push for the playoffs and end up relegating a team. But I digress.

The team

To date, Rob Edwards has only taken charge of the U18 team at Wolves so it’s difficult to pick up many clues how he may set Saturday’s team up. Having progressed quickly through the club structure to be involved at first team level less than two years after starting his coaching career, he is clearly highly thought of at Molineux and will doubtless have his own ideas on how to get the best out of this set of players. With this in mind, he may well depart from the default 4-1-2-3 shape favoured by Zenga, especially with us struggling of late to find goals. It would seem an ideal opportunity to revert to the 4-2-3-1 setup often seen when we were playing some of our best football under Kenny Jackett and in turn to see what Joao Teixeira can do as a genuine number 10; this appears to my eyes at least to be the position best suited to his skills as he can be marginalised when playing in a nominally wider role, while previous attempts to include him as a central midfielder have fallen flat.

Having kept only one clean sheet in our last eleven league games, personnel changes are also possible at the back. Unfortunate own goal aside, Silvio had an accomplished game against Leeds and should have done enough to retain his spot at right back. On the other side it is surely time for Cameron Borthwick-Jackson to make a return to the team after being oddly absent since the last international break while Dominic Iorfa may be in contention for a recall after Kortney Hause had an uneven display last Saturday, although personally I would give the latter another game in the hope that he replicates the display at Villa Park on his return to the team (that probably being the best individual performance from any of our centre halves this season).

hause1
Good Kortney on Saturday please, not Bad Kortney.

Joe Mason will be unavailable for the next month due to a hernia problem and Lee Evans is unlikely to be considered having yet to play any reserve team football since his return to training.

Carl Ikeme

Silvio – Danny Batth – Kortney Hause – Cameron Borthwick-Jackson

Dave Edwards – Romain Saiss

Helder Costa – Joao Teixeira – Ivan Cavaleiro

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson

Subs: Andy Lonergan, Dominic Iorfa, Richard Stearman, Conor Coady, Jack Price, Prince Oniangue, Nouha Dicko.

The opposition

While we try to find a new manager and sift through the inevitable raft of terrible, terrible candidates – and apropos of nothing I’d like to thank Paul Ince in particular for his application at this stage, don’t call us, we’ll call you – imagine if we appointed someone who’d relegated a local rival and left another after gross underperfomance in a six month spell. Who has since managed in the USA to absolutely no distinction. For that is the position that Blackburn fans found themselves in this summer.

ince1
And they’ve had the misfortune to suffer him in the past as well.

Owen Coyle made a bright start to his managerial career, getting Burnley promoted in 2009 (albeit through vastly inflating the wage bill and running up huge financial losses in the process) and impressing sufficiently in the Premier League to attract the attention of Bolton. He initially prospered in Horwich but a disastrous 5-0 capitulation at the hands of Stoke City in the FA Cup semi-finals in 2011 was the catalyst for a nosedive in fortunes from which Coyle’s career has never recovered. Bolton lost the final five league fixtures of the 2010/11 season and began the following campaign in similarly appalling form, with the first 16 games producing the astonishingly poor return of two wins and 14 defeats. Coyle lasted the full season as Bolton were relegated along with Wolves and he was sacked in October 2012 after further poor results. After thankfully for us missing out on the Wolves job in the summer of 2013 – whatever Express & Star polls tell you, he unequivocally was not the ‘fans favourite’ – his subsequent spell at much fancied Wigan was cut short after just 23 games as the expected promotion challenge failed to materialise (successor Uwe Rösler later taking the Latics into the playoffs). This chequered history, along with tales of lax training methods, an insistence on playing himself in training drills and an evangelical self-belief at odds with his actual results served to make Coyle an extremely unpopular appointment. An appointment sadly in keeping with the Venkys track record since they bought the club in December 2010, an ongoing situation that is better summed up than I can do justice in this excellent piece.

coyle2
If I ever publish an illustrated dictionary, expect this picture to appear alongside ‘chancer’.

Coyle failed to win any of his first six league games for Blackburn and while they have since managed to pick up victories against fellow strugglers Rotherham, Nottingham Forest and Derby, they will begin Saturday’s fixture in the bottom three. Rovers have failed to score in four of their last five games and have kept just one clean sheet all season, that coming against shot shy Ipswich. Of late Coyle has preferred a fairly basic 4-4-2 shape spearheaded by loanees Marvin Emnes and Sam Gallagher, with Craig Conway and Ben Marshall providing the width. Former Wolves man Charlie Mulgrew made the move to Ewood Park in the summer and despite fitness concerns, may be in line to start at left back in the absence of Derrick Williams. Ex-Wolves loan man Danny Graham is unlikely to be fit , but the ever frustrating Anthony Stokes may be in line to play some part after a recent absence.

Last line-up (vs Bristol City, 22.10.16, L 0-1): Steele; Lowe, Lenihan, Hoban, Williams; Marshall, Guthrie, Evans, Conway; Emnes, Gallagher

Form: WLLDWL

Top scorers: Sam Gallagher (5), Marvin Emnes (3)

Top assists: Craig Conway (3), Marvin Emnes (3), Corry Evans (3)

Last meeting

Saturday 9 April 2016: Wolves 0-0 Blackburn

Sigh. Another 0-0 to recount. We’d drawn 0-0 against Ipswich the previous week at Molineux and had taken 72 minutes to record our first shot on target. We proceeded to take 77 minutes on this occasion to test Jason Steele. On this occasion we were fortunate to escape with the stalemate as we relied on Carl Ikeme to keep us in the game with a couple of excellent late stops. Once again though, this was tepid stuff with little of value to recount, though for once Kenny Jackett did actually use all three substitutes and gave youngsters in the form of Conor Hunte and Bright Enobakhare a run out. Our chosen midfield four for this game were an illustration of just how ponderous our overall play was during these drab months.

Team: Ikeme; Iorfa, Batth, Hause, Doherty; Henry, Coady, Price, Saville (Hunte 58); Mason (Enobakhare 58); Le Fondre (Sigurdarson 74). Unused subs: Martinez, Deslandes, Helan, Edwards.

Past meetings

2015/16: D 0-0 (H), W 2-1 (A)

2014/15: W 3-1 (H), W 1-0 (A)

2012/13: D 1-1 (H), W 1-0 (A)

2011/12: L 0-2 (H), W 2-1 (A)

2010/11: L 2-3 (H), L 0-3 (A)

2009/10: D 1-1 (H), L 1-3 (A)

2003/4: D 2-2 (H), L 1-5 (A)

2000/1: D 0-0 (H), L 0-1 (A)

1999/0: W 2-1 (H), D 1-1 (A)

Prediction

Blackburn 0-1 Wolves (Costa)

Ewood Park has been a happy hunting ground for us in recent years and I’ll back us to win this one, hoping that Rob Edwards can provide a little more clarity to the players after a head spinning final few weeks under Zenga.

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One thought on “MATCH PREVIEW: BLACKBURN ROVERS VS WOLVES

  1. It’s always hard to predict the outcome of the first game under a caretaker boss. New manager bounce or a disorganised rabble. At least Rob knows the attributes and otherwise of his charges so he won’t need time or games to get to know his squad.
    I had the impression that, despite public pronouncements, our Walter had ‘lost the dressing room’. Why else the deterioration in performances? For that reason as much as any, the change will be good and Rob’s tenure should have a positive start.
    Blackburn 0 v 2 Wolves

    Like

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