Date: 24th December 2010 at 7:47pm
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Boxing Day sees Stoke travel to Ewood Park as we face Blackburn Rovers in this festive fixture. Disappointment against Blackpool will leave a bitter taste of Tangerine (especially in the hearty serving of humble pie I had from Vital Blackpool Co-Ed Eamonn Moore), so Stoke will look to go into the match to pick up a point or 3.

We all have our thoughts and opinions on the opposition and the match itself, but I spoke to Vital Blackburn Editor Mikey Delap to see what he had to say:

RYAN KALISZ: Alright Mike? You`re currently sitting 12th in the table, just one game and one point ahead of Stoke, are you pleased with your team so far?

MIKEY DELAP: First question and I am afraid I am reduced to sitting on the fence!

The team seems to be in decent shape, bar a few injuries we are a healthy Premier League side with a good pedigree and an ability to grind out results.

The points tally we have achieved has probably been a bit low compared to what we have deserved but then as the age old proverb goes, ‘if you don’t stick your chances away’.

Up until Bolton away if you had asked me this question I would be firmly in the positive camp but in light of recent events and the current uncertainty that surrounds us makes it difficult to go overboard.

RK: Big Sam Allardyce has been the main reason for your season so far, and bringing the club back on its feet. So, I`ve got to ask it, is it true that the new owners sacked him because he wasn’t their choice?

MD: No-one really knows for certain.

That is certainly one of the popular theories doing the rounds but there were also rumours of a fall out over potential transfer targets and the much tiresome ‘style of play’ that Sam takes with him everywhere.

If you were to ask me to go out on a limb I would say that in hindsight Big Sam has been a dead man walking since the new owners came in. The 7-1 loss to Man United probably sealed his fate.

Anyway you look at it though it was harsh on Big Sam.

RK: Other Premier League managers have commented on his sacking in the papers: Everton boss David Moyes said “I didn`t see that coming”, Blackpool chief Ian Holloway exclaimed “what a load of nonsense”, Sunderland gaffer Steve Bruce mentioned “the word ‘staggered` springs to mind”, and Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said “If they make the wrong decision [about who should be the next manager], I can see Blackburn being bang in trouble this year”. What are your thoughts on his sacking from a fan`s perspective?

MD To add to what was said in the last answer…

From a fans point of view it has not gone down well. Not necessarily from the Sam Allardyce is amazing train of thought but from the uncertainty it has created and in the PR sandstorm that Venkys have manufactured by not being used to the British media.

The short answer to your question I guess is – could have gone done better.

RK: A number of names have been thrown around the rumour mill to takeover at Ewood Park, such as World Cup ‘Hand of Clod` manager Diego Maradonna. Who would you like to come though?

MD:Flipping heck. Whatever I answer here will stir some sort of debate!

Personally I would say go for someone who has the guile and the know how on a managerial basis. I am all for talent and hard work but you can’t beat a bit of savvy sometimes.

My two preferred choices are Martin O’Neill and Bob Bradley.

But since Steve Kean has got the gig till the summer it looks like he will be given a shot, I just hope he takes it.

RK: Whoever sits in the hot seat, do they need to strengthen your squad? If so, who would be on your Christmas list for when the transfer window latches open?

MD: Three positions are in bad need of a bit of TLC, left back, striker and attacking midfield.

Rovers have long been short of a bit of flair bar the odd moment of magic from Morten Pedersen so someone to unlock a defence would be nice… Someone like Stephen Ireland (who is lost at Villa) would be helpful.

Upfront we can certainly pull up trees but the onion bag has not been ripped enough by the men charged with that as their main target, a quick glance at the stats will show you that… Someone bought in like Dani Osvaldo or Robbie Keane would improve that side of things.

And finally we have left back. Pascal Chimbonda is on his way out of the club and rumour has it that Gael Givet is a little homesick. So that leaves young Martin Olsson as the only one who can play left back – a shrewd addition like Kyle Walker or even dare I say Stephen Warnock would not go a stray.

RK: Martin Olsson, Junior Hoilett, Phil Jones, Grant Hanley and Josh Morris are all credits to your youth policy. Do you think including young legs in the first team is better than old experience?

MD:To be fair I think a blend is what is needed. The young lads have saved us millions over the last few seasons and they will all go on to be very handy EPL players but without the wise heads guiding them round on a day to day basis it can be difficult to focus.

RK: Ok so moving on to the match now; we travel up the road to face you at Ewood Park on Saturday (whether permitted), what do you think of Stoke City as an opposition?

MD: Honestly? I think Stoke are very dangerous.

You are similar to ourselves in that the basis of the play is to be tough to beat but players like Jermaine Pennant and Matt Etherington give you a certain threat that a ‘clogger’ side don’t have.

Stoke seem to have strengths in playing at home and as far as I understand the away record is no great shakes (again not unlike ourselves) but on the whole a very compact and hard working team.

RK: I don`t know about you Mike Delap, but our Rory Delap has a rocket like throw, but so does your Morten Gamst Pedersen. Will you be giving us a taste of our own medicine?

MD: I can take a decent throw I am pleased to say. Certainly not in Rory’s league but not bad!

Morten to be fair is an excellent long throw in taker but he doesn’t have the flat technique that really makes my name sakes a weapon but then when you are aiming at man mountains like Chris Samba and Steve N’Zonzi who cares right???

As long as you get it on to their noggins and in the danger zone then happy days.

RK: If you could have one of our players in your squad for Saturday, who would it be?

MD: I actually really like Glenn Whelan.

I know he is hardly in favour and it not what you would call one of the ‘best’ players but having lived in Sheffield for the last 10 years I have followed him from his time at Wednesday.

Quick on the turn, excellent touch and a good eye for goal make him hugely underrated in my opinion.

RK: Now the big question; what is your predicted score?

MD: Ask and you shall receive.

We are at home and even with the bad after taste in the mouths of some fans I am going to back us for three points.

It should be close but I will go 2-1 Rovers – Pedersen and El Hadji Diouf for Blackburn and Robert Huth for Stoke.

RK: Right well we’ll have to see! Thanks for that, and Merry Christmas.


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