A trip to the King Power stadium to visit the Foxes has left Rovers fans feeling disappointed and frustrated. The pre match ambiance was of optimism and hope, as some (particularly positive) fans called for 3 points, while a vast, perhaps more realistic majority were content to settle for 1.
The currently off form Foxes, who before a goalless draw against Blackpool on February 23rd had suffered 3 defeats on the trot, seem to have redeemed themselves tonight having battered Blackburn 3-0. The opening goal came from Chris Wood in the 29th minute, ensuring 9 goals in 9 games for him. Harry Kane bagged a second in the 42nd, giving Leicester a promising lead. Blackburn would have to battle hard for a chance of equalising. King sealed the deal with a third as Blackburn Rovers fans on twitter expressed their disdain and disappointment at the lack of attack from their beloved club.
Appleton appeared to recognise the lack of quality and effort in the squad at half time, when Rekik and Pederson were brought off for recently recovered Adam Henley, and Marcus Olsson. The changes did not appear to add anything to the game as Rovers continued to play purely on the counter attack. Playing on the counter away is not a bad tactical decision, provided there is pace in the squad. However with Olsson and King out, arguably it wasn't going to work, and to be successful Rovers needed to put themselves out there.
The most surprising moment of the 90 minutes, was not Appy's decision to bring 2 off at half time, but later on in the match when Rhodes (having looked tired) was brought off for veteran striker and fan favourite, Nuno Gomes. Gomes has not featured under Michael Appleton prior to tonight's substitution, for an unbeknown reason to the confused fans. It's surprising as Rovers seem to be playing the same squads week in and week out, with forced changes only due to a recent campaign of injuries. The problem with this is the lack of ability in the current squad, therefore fans have struggled to comprehend why experienced players such as Gomes have been sitting on the bench and not been given chances.
At the moment our biggest problem is the midfield. There is a unanimous agreement that a strong centre mid needs to be brought in as our midfield is seriously lacking, and to be blunt, has been all season. Etuhu is injured, but even when he was playing in partnership with skipper Danny Murphy, there appeared to be a lack of urgency. Typically David Dunn is the kind of character we need in the midfield. A game changer. A battler. A man with passion for not only the game but Rovers as well. Even scores a few goals! Unfortunately Dunn is heavily prone to injuries.
An apparent solution to this potentially destructive problem is the replacement of the current midfield. The counter problem to this - who have we got to replace them with? The lack of a quality midfield enforcer is proving detrimental to the clubs current ambitions. The prospect of play off positions this season has already began to dissolve for many fans with a realistic viewpoint, however unless this key issue is addressed over the summer, the chance of promotion even next season, thins.
All hope is not lost though - a second solution to this frustrating problem, could potentially be the rise of youth players to the first team. Blackburn Rovers are renowned for having a strong youth team and if players in the first team appear to be struggling, why not offer some of the younger, fiery, passion fuelled, potential starlets a chance? We've seen the likes of Raheem Hanley, Hugo Fernandez and John O'Sullivan, and what they have to offer for the reserves, so instead of spending huge amounts of money on players from other clubs perhaps it's time to reevaluate the players we already have.
I also firmly believe that patience is a virtue. It is a virtue Rovers fans would do well to acknowledge, as although losing matches is frustrating, with 4 managers prior to Appleton this season, missing out on play offs is not Appleton's fault. He came into the club as Bowyer's successor. Bowyer gave us a huge confidence boost and gained a lot of respect. But Bowyer was the successor of Henning Berg, who despite being a Rovers legend his managerial reign did not have the effect many fans hoped for, and his one win in 10 may prove catastrophic in the chase for play offs.
Appleton has experienced one transfer period this season, and experienced it fairly successfully. Over the Summer, Appleton has the chance to rectify problems with the squad by hopefully rebuilding a squad of his own. To this idea, I have been offered the counter thought that Venkys may not give him support, backing and money over the summer. In response I argue that although Venkys may be fools when it comes to running a football club, there is a reason that they're multimillionaire business owners. Despite their knowledge being in other sectors, they run their poultry business successfully and based on this, I doubt that they would invest money into a business prospect if there was a risk of financial devastation.
Play offs this season was always going to be difficult considering the poor organisation of the club, lack of communication and poor quality on the pitch. We need to give it time, let Appleton do what he has to do in the Summer, and if next season we continue to play of a poor standard then by all means, judge and protest. But for now, let's just continue to back the App and what will be, will be.