Up against the hoofing anti-football of Sam Allardyce, for the sake of all things beautiful, we had to win. Unfortunately, the ugly won.
King (4 games on the trot) and Bent started, unchanged side. Hail consistency! Wasn't a tidy game by any means when we were in possession, but we played in some clever balls, Modric involved as often as possible. Got ourselves into some tasty positions first half. But we remained comfortable. All the way through to the second half and up until the final 20 minutes. Where it all went wrong.
Should have had this wrapped up in the first half. 1-0 up from a Keane penalty. A controversial one at that. Although at a stretch you could argue Givet leaned forward and didn't try to move his arm away. At a stretch. In all honesty, it wasn't a clear cut penalty and the referee struggled with consistency through-out the game (not giving Rovers a pen earlier for a handball by Corluka) - so no surprise when he ignored his assistants lack of flag waving and gave it. Not that I complained much.
There was more hilarity when Keane didn't quite place the whole of the ball on the white pen mark, which is fine, if you look at how most players take corners nowadays - placing the ball right on the edge is legal. One nil half-time. Job half done.
Second half saw us create more chances, none taken - but nothing overly decisive in the way of a killer killer pass. Nothing anywhere near ruthless. Gomes didn't have anything to do for 65 minutes or so. But the longer it went on, that horrid mist of ominousness began to cloud my confidence that all three points were safe.
Wilson, already on a yellow, got a second and his marching orders for basically pulling out of a tackle. He did not swing his leg, he pulled away to avoid committing the foul. But the ref decided it warranted a yellow and off he went. And you just knew that at 1-0 up and down to 10 men that things would go from bad to worse. It's the curse of mentioning 'Europe' one to many times in the past couple of weeks. That mist was now engulfing all hopes of sitting in that 7th spot, for a couple of hours at the very least.
And so, it went to shit. Rovers, galvanized pushed forward. We switched off and got sloppy. Gomes saved well from Warnock. But then cometh the 82 min, Rovers made it 1-1, and then 2-1 in the 89th.
Shocking stuff. Messy defending. Far too easy for Rovers. Final whistle, Diouf does his detestable best to rub it in. No Match of the Day for me.
I'll keep my final analysis simple.
First half was all good, just no second killer goal. Woody and King great at the back. Bent playing well. Lennon quiet but just doing enough to keep things ticking. Palacios involved, Modric not quite magical but effective. Second half, Lennon quieter. Palacios unlucky. Bent's positioning evaporated like a fleas wet fart in the Sahara desert. Still no second goal. Bad ref decision (to make up for the one that gave us a 1-0 lead). Team structure gets messy. Blackburn only have to get the ball into the box for our defenders to lose concentration where its needed. The End.
Blackburn are shit. Diouf and Allardyce. They make little attempt to play football. They are shit. We were not sharp or bang on form. But still possessed enough quality on the ball to win comfortably. We just didn't really have the application to do so. Disappointing as it is, and ironic that we could have gone 7th - but in the grand scheme of things, its a learning curve and a reminder that we have to be a certain bite to our play whether its against Chelsea or Rovers. The ref didn't help matters, but at the best of times, they don't tend to.
41 points is safety territory. It will have to wait another week.
Mark this one down to a footballing hangover. Learn from it, stuff West Ham next week.
I'll leave you with this gem from Allardyce:
"Doesn't matter how you win as long as you win"
There you have it people. It's not about playing football on the ground, pinging it around to feet, flowing pushing forward with style. It's just about winning. Touch.