Tag Archives: annoyance

James McLean suffering second season syndrome, says Martin O"Neill

Second season syndrome to blame for McClean's poor start, says O'Neill

|

UPDATED:

22:07 GMT, 25 October 2012

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill admits winger James McClean may be suffering from second season syndrome.

The former Derry City midfielder has been struggling for form this season and as well as falling out with Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni over abuse tweets he sent last month, is fighting to keep his Sunderland place at Stoke City.

But McClean has not even completed a full year in the Barclays Premier League and O'Neill indicated he may be suffering from homesickness, as well as living up to the expectations of his first extraordinary season in the English top flight.

Below par: McClean has failed to live up to his stunning start last season

Below par: McClean has failed to live up to his stunning start last season

The 23-year-old was still in Sunderland reserves when O'Neill arrived to replace Steve Bruce and then threw the player, who is from his own home town, straight into first action. He has barely missed a game since.

This week McClean's best friend Eugene Ferry, a back-up goalkeeper from Derry City, announced he will be going over to the North East to stay with McClean and ensure he stays clear of trouble.

O'Neill, who has welcomed the move, said McClean can cope with the additional pressure in his first full season to re-discover the form of last term.

The Sunderland boss said: 'I don't even know who James' best friend is. I'm delighted he has one and he did mention that there was someone going to come over. I've not got a problem with that and it's not a big issue. He's not five years of age although I've said to you he's 23 going on it!

'I just think he's been a little bit homesick, that's my thought. James might not go with that. Lots of things have happened to him and my annoyance with him was purely on the Tweeting aspect more than anything else, especially some of the choice language and picking Trapattoni's team for him.

'There's a difference to telling James to be a bit sensible but I don't think he's gone off the rails or anything. My concern is him playing well for us. If there's something off the field, then on a serious note I have to look at that. If he's happy with someone living with him then fine.'

McClean made such an impression last season that Premier League defences have started to double-mark him and force him on the back foot.

Phone a friend: O'Neill believes McClean could be a little homesick

Phone a friend: O'Neill believes McClean could be a little homesick

The Ireland international’s dogged
perseverance ensured he stayed on the field during the Wear-Tyne derby
last week, whereas England wide man Adam Johnson was substituted as he
too struggles to find his form.

O’Neill added: 'Against Manchester City, Zabaletta was straight in on top of him, right in and that's happened the first three or four times he's picked it up that's happened.

'It's a case of trying to find a bit of room for himself. All good wingers do suss it, to create space and see if there's anything over the top. He's had no apprenticeship at all and it takes a bit of time.

'If you're being heavily marked, then you have to realise there should be space for someone else. Utilising that space when you don't have the ball is very valuable. Of course he's still going to be judged by what he does on the ball. He's capable of coming right through this season and doing well.

'Did I think these things would happen to him Of course, everyone of us thought let's see what James does in his second season and it's interesting. Do I think he's got the capability to get over that Absolutely.

Best foot forward: McClean has plenty of time to turn his season around

Best foot forward: McClean has plenty of time to turn his season around

'Teams and individual full-backs are paying him a lot more attention and that's a natural thinking. Someone picks the ball up and goes past you one season you're going to make sure next time round that you deal with it. It's how James deals with that.'

Meanwhile O’Neill has confirmed that Scotland international James McFadden is on the verge of signing for Sunderland today.

The 29-year-old former Everton striker, who is a free agent, will sign a deal until the January transfer window and has until then to impress Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill to win a longer contract.

McFadden, who has been on trial at the Wearside club for more than a month and played in two behind-closed-doors friendlies, could be eligible for Sunderland’ s clash at Stoke on Saturday.

O'Neill said: 'It's a short contract that suits everybody because it gives him a chance and gives us a chance to look at him. If he hasn't broken through or looked like breaking through in that time then he wouldn't want to be hanging around knowing James.

'I hope in this time with the games we have it'd be quite surprising if he wouldn't be involved somewhere between now and Christmas.'

Ceefax sport tribute: Time before Twitter and Jeff Stelling updates

Farewell, Ceefax: Remembering the days before Twitter and Stelling on a Saturday…

|

UPDATED:

16:33 GMT, 23 October 2012

Back when birds were the only thing that tweeted and live football was weekly rather than daily, there was a Saturday afternoon ritual that seems primitive now but for years brought instant knowledge, joy and despair.

If it was 4.55pm, then thousands of thumbs up and down the land would be tapping out that familiar code on the remote control – 302.

And suddenly on the screen before you, in the most basic of pixelated forms, was everything you needed to know. The headlines, the scores and scorers, the tables, the vidiprinter – all in a computerised blend of white, blue and yellow letters.

The way it was: Ceefax was popular across the country but the BBC are terminating the text service

The way it was: Ceefax was popular across the country but the BBC are terminating the text service

Top of the table: Fans would turn their remote to Ceefax for the latest standings

And with it – happiness, elation, annoyance and despair.

Football fans who lived through a time without social networking, Jeff Stelling and Premier League highlights before last orders may take a moment today to reflect that Ceefax, the great information source of their generation, is no more.

This week, the last analogue television signals will be shut down in Northern Ireland and the digital switchover completed, meaning the last handful of Ceefax users will have to go elsewhere for their updates.

Those of a younger age who want – and demand – news of goals as soon as the net ripples will struggle to comprehend that people would sit for two hours on a Saturday staring at a black screen with a few lines of text on it, periodically pressing the refresh button.

If you were interested in everything that was happening, you might watch the scores ‘in vision’ where a flickering black box and vidiprinter would be superimposed over the British Touring Cars from Snetterton or whatever Grandstand were showing.

The numbers for Ceefax sport (p300) – football (302), Premier League scores (316), Premier League table (324), cricket (340), rugby (370) – were as lodged in the memory as your PIN or mobile number might be today.

Ceefax was launched in September 1974, in a time well before rolling news channels and the internet when the only other option was to wait until twelve or six or nine for the next bulletin.

This source of instant headlines and score updates was revolutionary and by the eighties, millions of Britons had upgraded their television sets on order to receive it.

In the nineties, a third of the population checked it at least once a week but for many sports fans it would have been far more often. Many hours were wasted looking up how your team was getting on and then waiting for the pages to click round when you got there.

When England played Tests overseas, long before it was beamed live by Sky, you could follow the action in pain-staking over-by-over updates. Sometimes it would take a little too long to refresh – ‘What on earth has happened’ you’d implore, bashing the reload button. ‘Four, six, wicket Surely not another wicket, England!’

All change: Most fans now tune into Soccer Saturday for updates from Jeff Stelling and co

All change: Most fans now tune into Soccer Saturday for updates from Jeff Stelling and co

And then it would come through your aerial and it would be a maiden over.

Grands Prix could be tracked in quarter-lap instalments, a constantly shifting list of names and sector times. There will be many people who’ll admit they spent two hours gazing at what was essentially alphabet soup.

The football pages brought their own delights. The scores and scorers were available league-by-league and the heart always beat a little quicker as the pages slowly cycled through and back to your side’s match. If there wasn’t a player’s name written in white underneath your opponent’s name, you’d breathe a sigh of relief.

I always admired the reporters who managed to mention every goal in a 4-4 thriller within the confines of four pixelated paragraphs and the sub-editors who squeezed multi-faceted and complicated stories into 20-character headlines. This was an extreme version of Twitter.

It provided great football anecdotes too – in 1997, Queens Park Rangers assistant manager Bruce Rioch found out about his sacking on Ceefax. ‘I am bitterly disappointed they didn’t have the courtesy to… phone me… before I read it on television,’ he said at the time.

Read all about it: Ceefax would break the latest sporting news throughout the day

Read all about it: Ceefax would break the latest sporting news throughout the day

Headlines: Bruce Rioch discovered he'd lost his job at QPR via Ceefax

Headlines: Bruce Rioch discovered he'd lost his job at QPR via Ceefax

Three years earlier, angry Wolves fans has besieged the club’s switchboard after a Ceefax April Fool’s Joke suggested manager Graham Taylor didn’t like the orange colour of the club’s kit and wanted to change it to white.

And in 2001, Roy Essandoh engrained himself in FA Cup legend when scoring the winner for third division Wycombe at Premier League Leicester – having answered the club’s appeal for players on the pages of Ceefax.

Unfortunately, Ceefax was never going to compete with modern ways of finding out what is happening in the world of sport – with breaking news in 140 characters, attractive Sky Sports News presenters and excitable Saturday afternoon correspondents reporting from the ground in high definition.

So the lines of text and crude blocks of colours have been consigned to the past like rattles and rosettes – but there will be plenty of sports fans out there today who will lament the passing of a faithful servant to sports news.

Unsettled Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna on the radar of Inter Milan

Unsettled Arsenal defender Sagna on the radar of Inter Milan

|

UPDATED:

09:07 GMT, 25 September 2012

Inter Milan are ready to move for Bacary Sagna if the defender fails to agree a new contract at Arsenal.

The Italian giants were alerted by the 29-year-old voicing his frustrations about the Gunners.

Talks: Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna (right)

Talks: Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna (right)

Sagna, currently on his way back from a
second broken leg within a year, voiced his annoyance at Arsenal selling
their players, not winning trophies and that earned him a dressing down
from manager Arsene Wenger.

Wenger is confident his fellow Frenchman will sign a new long-term deal but Inter will pounce if there is any chance of luring Sagna away from the Emirates, reports the Daily Mirror.

Arsenal have made re-negotiating contracts for Sagna and left-back Kieran Gibbs – who is also into the final two years of his deal – their No 1 priority.

They have hit deadlock with Theo Walcott, who is into the final year of his contract and has yet to sign an offer worth 75,000-a-week.

Unsettled Arsenal defender Sagna on the radar of Inter Milan

Unsettled Arsenal defender Sagna on the radar of Inter Milan

|

UPDATED:

05:35 GMT, 25 September 2012

Inter Milan are ready to move for Bacary Sagna if the defender fails to agree a new contract at Arsenal.

The Italian giants were alerted by the 29-year-old voicing his frustrations about the Gunners.

Talks: Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna (right)

Talks: Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna (right)

Sagna, currently on his way back from a
second broken leg within a year, voiced his annoyance at Arsenal selling
their players, not winning trophies and that earned him a dressing down
from manager Arsene Wenger.

Wenger is confident his fellow Frenchman will sign a new long-term deal but Inter will pounce if there is any chance of luring Sagna away from the Emirates, reports the Daily Mirror.

Arsenal have made re-negotiating contracts for Sagna and left-back Kieran Gibbs – who is also into the final two years of his deal – their No 1 priority.

They have hit deadlock with Theo Walcott, who is into the final year of his contract and has yet to sign an offer worth 75,000-a-week.

Europa League draw – ultimate guide

Europa League draw – your essential guide to today's line-up

|

UPDATED:

07:07 GMT, 31 August 2012

So I heard the Europa League is back again – is this true

Yes, you’re absolutely correct. Though in reality everyone’s favourite pan-European football marathon never really goes away. The first qualifying round for this season’s competition started on July 5, just six weeks after last season’s final in Bucharest and now it’s time for the group stage draw.

Since UEFA decided to get rid of the Intertoto Cup, Europe’s secondary competition has become more and more bloated. A whopping 193 teams from all 53 countries in UEFA will take part, including 32 ‘lucky losers’ from the Champions League for whom the tournament is a kind of safety net – or just an annoyance.

Making it through: Steven Gerrard will lead Liverpool into the group stages of the Europa League

Making it through: Steven Gerrard will lead Liverpool into the group stages of the Europa League

What’s the format

Now we know the 48 teams left in the competition, we can crack on with the draw for the group stage. The contenders will be split into 12 groups of four (or letters A-L) and will play one another home and away between now and Christmas.

The top two in each group progress and are then joined by the eight sides who finished third in their Champions League pools. It’s a straight knockout from there on in, with home and away legs.

When is the draw

It’s the middle part of UEFA’s two-day takeover of Monaco to celebrate the start of the European football season (which is a bit of an insult to the sides from San Marino and Andorra who have been qualifying for an eternity).

The Champions League draw occurred on Thursday night and the Super Cup between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid is to come on Friday evening, but the Europa League takes centre stage at midday UK time with the draw at the Grimaldi Forum.

How does it work

The 48 teams will be divided into four pots based on the current UEFA club coefficients, which is kept updated by a team of chin-scratching boffins and a large bleeping computer called Hans (in my mind). It takes into account their performances in Europe over the last five seasons.

All you need to know is that each group will contain a team from each pot and clubs from the same country cannot be drawn together, a scenario which always leads to the draw masters having to explain in four languages why they’ve thrown the ball back in the pot.

The first matchnight is on September 20 and the last on December 6.

Waiting for the draw: Tottenham will compete in the Europa League

Waiting for the draw: Tottenham will compete in the Europa League

Where’s the final going to be held

In the hedonistic Dutch paradise of Amsterdam on May 15. The famous ArenA, home of Ajax, accommodates 52,000 and the first entertainment there after it opened in 1996 was Tina Turner on her Wildest Dreams Tour.

Who won the Europa League last year

Spain bossed the competition, with three sides reaching the semi-finals and Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao making it to the final in Bucharest. The side from the capital proved too powerful and won 3-0 courtesy of a brace from Falcao and another from Diego.

How did the British teams get on

We were well represented in last year’s tournament though no team progressed as far as the quarter-finals. Tottenham, Fulham, Birmingham and Celtic bowed out after the group stage, but Stoke City made it through and were joined by the two Manchester clubs, demoted from the Champions League.

Crashing out: Fulham were eliminated at the group stage last season after drawing with Odense

Crashing out: Fulham were eliminated at the group stage last season after drawing with Odense

Stoke were handed a tricky draw against eventual semi-finalists Valencia and lost both legs 1-0. Manchester City had few problems beating Porto home and away, but United had a scare when Ajax pulled it back to 3-2 on aggregate at Old Trafford.

But that was as far as it went – United were outclassed by Bilbao and lost 3-2 at home and 2-1 away, while City couldn’t turn around a first leg deficit against Sporting Lisbon, losing on away goals.

Where can I watch it

The Europa League will be screened exclusively on ITV and ESPN in the UK this season, which is bad news for Pat Nevin, his truck full of screens and Channel 5. And no more terrace taunts of ‘Thursday nights, Channel Five.’ Unfortunately.

Who are the British representatives this time

Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle make up a strong English contingent in the group stage.

Spurs qualified automatically for the group stage having finished fourth in the Premier League last season and by rights would be in the Champions League but for that dastardly Chelsea going and winning it.

New manager Andre Villas-Boas has stripped away the dead wood in his squad, while the departure of Luka Modric to Real Madrid was inevitable. He’s used the cash to strengthen his strike force by making Emmanuel Adebayor’s loan permanent and went back into the market to sign Mousa Dembele from Fulham for 15m.

Centre-back Jan Vertonghen has been brought in to cover the loss of Ledley King to injury, while Gylfi Sigurdsson joined from Hoffenheim for 8m.

With Villas-Boas setting his heights high – or more accurately, on winning one of the cup competitions – Tottenham will hope they still possess enough strength in depth to compete on four fronts following the summer cull.

Flying the flag: Haris Vuckic helped Newcastle make the group stages

Flying the flag: Haris Vuckic helped Newcastle make the group stages

Liverpool, three times winners of the competition, have also seen a summer of upheaval as Brendan Rodgers tries to stamp his philosophy of attractive passing football on the club.

They have recruited well, with Fabio Borini coming in from Roma to provide goals, Joe Allen as a disciple to Rodgers from Swansea and Nuri Sahin on loan from Real Madrid. Raheem Sterling has also been given a chance and looks mighty impressive for a raw 17-year-old.

Although Rodgers is filling some sizeable shoes after the exit of Kenny Dalglish, he appears to be slowly winning over the Anfield faithful with his team’s exciting style of play.

This wasn’t necessarily in evidence however in the play-off round ties with Hearts, who pushed the Premier League side all the way.

Newcastle return to European competition after seven years away after a fifth place finish in the Premier League and a laboured win over Greek side Atromitos in the play-off round.

After such an excellent season in 2011-2012, Alan Pardew has managed to hang on to all his star players and strengthened by signing defensive midfielder Vurnon Anita from Ajax.

It remains to be seen whether Newcastle have enough strength in depth to juggle a tiring Europa League campaign with domestic duties and retain the high levels of performance from last year.

Pardew stated at the start of the summer that three or four senior players were needed, but the names haven’t materialised as clubs inflate their asking prices in the knowledge that the manager has completed astute business before.

Any other big names in the mix

Yes, definitely. Big names from all around Europe lurk in the Europa League, silently resenting the fact that the likes of BATE Borisov and Cluj are in the Champions League and they’re not.

Atletico Madrid earned the chance to defend their title after a fifth place finish in La Liga and will look to the prolific Falcao to once again deliver success. Inter Milan will pose a danger despite scraping in with a sixth place Serie A finish after a season of managerial upheaval.

Holders: Falcao helped Atletico Madrid win the Europa League last season beating Athletic Bilbao 2-0 in the final

Holders: Falcao helped Atletico Madrid win the Europa League last season beating Athletic Bilbao 2-0 in the final

Elsewhere, seasoned Champions League campaigners like Lyon, Marseille and Bayer Leverkusen are in the mix, while Napoli, last season’s runners-up Athletic Bilbao, Lazio and Stuttgart have plenty of European pedigree and are ones to avoid in the draw.

Who are the dark horses in the draw

Further down the list of clubs are others you’d ideally want to avoid at this stage, not least because the Europa League tends to throw up marathon trips to the far end of Europe a matter of hours before domestic action.

Anzhi Makhachkala, Rubin Kazan and Metalist Kharkiv are prime examples of this. In fact Anzhi are being counted among the favourites, with Guus Hiddink at the helm and Samuel Eto’o as captain. They also reached the group stage with a stunning 5-0 away win against AZ Alkmaar and are lurking in seeding put four.

There’s also strength in the Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, who scored 14 unanswered goals in the play-off round, the Germans Hannover, French side Bordeaux, and Levante and Sporting Lisbon from the Iberian Peninsula.

So, who’s going to win

England has only had one winner of the UEFA Cup/Europa League in nearly 30 years, so it’s comforting to know the bookmakers rank Liverpool and Spurs among the favourites. It’s likely both teams will take the competition seriously – something that not every English team has done in the recent past – as they seek to win over the supporters with a concerted European campaign.

But the current favourites with the odds-makers are holders Atletico, who look as strong as ever, while Inter cannot be discounted. Anzhi, Bilbao, Lyon, Napoli, Newcastle and Marseille will also target the last eight as a minimum.

Frank Warren wants Lord Coe as new British Boxing Board of Control chief

Warren calls for Coe to run British boxing in latest swipe at board of control

|

UPDATED:

08:04 GMT, 16 July 2012

Promoter Frank Warren has called for Lord Coe to be appointed as the new president and chairman of the British Boxing Board of Control.

Warren is unhappy with how the BBBofC is being run under Charles Giles and would like to see London 2012 chairman Coe, a former steward with the organisation, step in.

The BBBofC refused to sanction Saturday's fight between David Haye and Dereck Chisora after the brawl which erupted in Munich between the two fighters.

Call for change: Frank Warren believes Lord Coe would be the perfect candidate to lead the British Boxing Board of Control

Call for change: Frank Warren believes Lord Coe would be the perfect candidate to lead the British Boxing Board of Control

In an open letter in The Sun, Warren wrote: 'I wish to put my annoyance – after 32 years as a licence holder – on record at the way boxing is run here.

'The current leadership is killing boxing and I, and other upset licence holders, want drastic changes so we can drag the Board of Control out of the dark ages.

In demand: London 2012 chief Lord Coe

In demand: London 2012 chief Lord Coe

'I am calling for Charlie Giles, the president and chairman, to be replaced.

'The outstanding candidate for the role is Lord Coe, a previous steward, who has done such a marvellous job organising the Olympics.'

The BBBofC's stance over Saturday's fight, which was won by Haye, meant Warren went through the Luxembourg Boxing Federation (FLB) for licensing.

And he is pondering doing the same again when he promotes another high-profile fight, the WBO lightweight bout between belt-holder Ricky Burns and Kevin Mitchell, in September.

'I'm actually debating it,' Warren told City AM. 'I'm actually thinking about where to go with [Mitchell versus Burns].

'We did save money [using the FLB]. Their sanctioning fees are nowhere near [the same as the BBBofC's], and it opened my eyes.

'I thought “wow, I've never thought about this side of it”. And the boxers also saved money as far as sanctioning fees are concerned, so it makes you wonder.'

Old Trafford fans asked to arrive early for security trial

Man United and West Brom fans asked to arrive early at Old Trafford for security trial

|

UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 9 March 2012

Thousands of supporters attending Manchester United’s match with West Brom on Sunday have been told to arrive early to take part in extra security checks as part of a trial run ahead of the Olympics.

Old Trafford will stage football at the Games and all 75,000 fans, apart from those with executive tickets, will be searched and asked to put their belongings into a transparent bag ahead of the 2pm kick-off.

Season-ticket holders were sent a text message on Friday, which read: ‘In preparation for the Olympic Games, search tests will be trialled at all turnstiles at the West Brom game.

Security trial: Fans have been asked to arrive early at Old Trafford

Security trial: Fans have been asked to arrive early at Old Trafford

‘All supporters will be issued clear bags to empty pocket contents and any bags will be searched and sealed. We advise you to arrive early to avoid queues. Thank you in advance for your co-operation.’

There will be an additional line of club stewards positioned on the ground’s forecourt. They will check for valid tickets and confiscate any offensive items. Olympics officials will attend the match to observe proceedings.

Ticket-holders in a section of the Stretford End underwent a similar process last month, but officials are now testing the operation for the whole stadium.

Fans on Friday expressed their annoyance at the plans, suggesting they were being treated like ‘guinea pigs’ and questioning why they had not been informed sooner.

Outrage: Fans are furious at the late notice of the plans

Outrage: Fans are furious at the late notice of the plans

Tony Percival, a season ticket-holder said: ‘The Olympic Games has absolutely nothing to do with Manchester United and the money I pay to watch my team yet I’ve got to be inconvenienced.

‘I understand precautions have to be taken and training done, but don’t train people on my time. That’s what’s angered a lot of people.

‘I would also question why those in the executive seats are not being treated the same way.’

A spokesman for the Games’ organisers said: ‘Obviously Olympic security measures are a little more stringent than normal match days so security will be a bit tighter. We want to thank supporters for their patience.’

It is understood all other football stadiums hosting Olympic matches will undergo the same security trials before the end of the season.

Sir Alex Ferguson labels Manchester United loss "a disaster"

Disaster! Ferguson hits out at United flops but refuses to blame De Gea for Blackburn loss

Sir Alex Ferguson has branded Manchester United”s stunning 3-2 home defeat to Blackburn this afternoon as “a disaster”.

United fell two behind to a couple of Yakubu efforts either side of the interval but quickly replied through Dimitar Berbatov, whose brace took his tally to five in two games.

However, as the pressure for a winner intensified, Blackburn broke and when David de Gea failed to collect a Morten Gamst Pedersen corner 10 minutes from time, Grant Hanley nodded the winner from close range.

Where

Where”s the “keeper David de Gea was culpable for Blackburn Rovers” winner

“It is a disaster,” said Ferguson, whose side failed in their quest to mark his 70th birthday by claiming top spot in the Barclays Premier League. “I never expected it. We lost two terrible goals and you can”t do that.”

After successive clean sheets from Anders Lindegaard, questions will now be asked over De Gea, who appeared to have recovered from his early season worries to reaffirm his status as United”s No 1.

The Spain Under 21 star”s culpability for Blackburn”s winner seemed obvious, although Ferguson refused to apportion blame.

Unhappy birthday: United boss Sir Alex Ferguson

Unhappy birthday: United boss Sir Alex Ferguson

“We all could have done better,” he said, when asked about De Gea. “It was a bad goal to lose.”

Ferguson”s annoyance was rammed home in even more forceful fashion by former Blackburn defender Phil Jones, who was facing his former club in a fixture he lost 7-1 with Rovers last term.

“I am gutted,” he said. “The manager”s birthday as well. We weren”t at the races. Too slow, too laboured. Not quick enough. The injuries don”t help. But they are no excuse. We were nowhere near good enough.”

In fact, Jones felt United had not done themselves any favours by getting back on level terms so quickly.

“That was our downfall, coming back too soon,” he said. “I think we thought we had won it. We got two back, we thought we had won it and we eased off.

“They punished us. They thoroughly deserved their win. We weren”t at the races today. It will be a bad New Year”s Eve.

“I feel worse today than when we got smashed 7-1 last season playing for Blackburn. That puts into perspective how disappointed I am.”

For Blackburn boss Steve Kean it represented a stunning change in fortunes less than two weeks after it appeared certain he would be sacked after a terrible home defeat to Bolton.

“To come to a place like this and get a result is up there with our best wins,” he said. “As soon as it went to 2-1, we were thinking it was going to be tough. And at 2-2, it would have been a good point.”