500 Words on the Season So Far…

Saturday, 31 December 2022

The meaning of the phrase “curate’s egg” has evolved over the decades from its original use - describing something as “almost entirely bad” - into a softer definition, pertaining to an item with an indeterminate mix of good and bad features. You know where this is going already I sense…

The Tony Mowbray iteration of Blackburn Rovers could fairly have been described as “good in parts”; those parts usually being the months from August through to the end of the transfer window in January, whereas the Jon Dahl Tomasson version ebbs and flows in a similar fashion, but within much smaller time increments. 

View from the Riverside

This season, describing Rovers as “good in parts” could have been levelled on a week to week basis, although more recently, the team seems to have taken it on themselves to peak and trough in 20 or 30 minute slots during single games. 

Much like going to see a favourite band with a healthy back catalogue, the hits come along every now and then; but in between, you have to endure the occasional drum solo. I am reminded at this point, of the observation of Rick Wakeman (virtuoso keyboardist with one of my all-time favourite bands, Yes) who memorably remarked that drum solos were in many ways similar to a bout of diarrhoea - you certainly didn’t ask for it, you can’t be entirely sure how long it will last and you have no immediate way of making it stop. 

In the case of Rovers, the greatest hits include teasing the support with a tantalising prospect of promotion before Christmas, enduring painful local derby defeats and playing under-performing opponents back into form. The material penned by the recently-arrived members of the band; inviting jeopardy in our penalty area, not creating many clear-cut chances and lacking any clue as to what to do in adversity don’t seem to rouse the crowd into singalongs with the same gusto. 

But what to make of the hotch-potch we have seen since August ? 

Well in fairness, the league table would indicate a level of performance well above what could have been legitimately expected in the summer. So much turmoil, so many players (& a manager of course) leaving and arriving, nobody could have imagined that a victory over Burnley would have seen the World Cup break with Rovers atop the Championship. What has happened subsequently though must be a cause for some concern.

There is a school of thought that says over time, luck evens itself out and statistical outliers regress to the mean. I suspect that’s where Rovers are right now. Not everyone is a fan of xG but when your team’s goal scoring is continually out-performing the stat it suggests you are riding your luck. 

The upcoming window is likely to demonstrate exactly where the thinking is in the Ewood boardroom right now - will this opportunity be exploited by bringing in two or three quality additions to an under-pressure squad ? It’s not just on the field that performance can be described as “a curate’s egg”.

Happy New Year everyone ! 

Blackburn End sunset



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