If the unexpectedly productive seven-point start had lured Rovers fans towards serious delusions of adequacy, the inevitable counterblow of a scruffy, sloppy League Cup defeat to modest lower-league opposition served as a timely reminder that even a couple of late-August swallows do not a summer make.
When good news and cause for optimism has been as scarce as it has round Ewood way, it is perhaps understandable that the more simply inclined embraced the largely unmerited win over Hull and the even less deserved one against Leicester, probably entirely thanks to an erroneous linesman’s flag, as portents that “our luck has changed” or that “winning while playing badly is a good habit to acquire.”
I too would gladly embrace the concept that “we have the extra quality other sides don’t have” if it wasn’t for the manifest evidence that nothing could be further from the truth.
If you asked me at ten to five on Saturday which team looked more likely to gain promotion or how many of our starting line-up I’d swap for Leicester’s, I’d far rather have Nigel Pearson’s resources at my disposal.
There’s a tendency in football to read far too much into the merest sliver of hope, hence a couple of forward runs from Bruno Ribeiro transform his headless-chicken sense of positional duty and repeated failure to pick up his man as inarguable proof that he is Carlos Alberto incarnate.
Similarly, a couple of decent passes from Reuben Rochina and a speculative shot deflected into the path of Morten Gamst Pederson, morph him into the Championship’s version of Lionel Messi when in reality he has far to go before even justifying a tenth of the agent’s commission it cost to acquire the still far-from-established Gaucho trickster.
How ironic for Shebby Singh that our matchwinners proved to be two of his pensioners, tucking away their goals with considerable skill in an otherwise jaw-droppingly shocking display.
Those who cling to the delusion that our squad loafers and mystery Portuguese acquisitions (two more this week the present count) are set to bloom into “good players at Championship level” partly got their vision laid out before them at Milton Keynes when the much-hailed like of Rochina, Vujcevic, Fabio Nunes, Edinho and Paulo Jorge all got a start.
Of course they more or less to a man looked as peripheral as ever and proved singularly incapable of stringing a performance together against a League One outfit bereft of three suspended players.
Those who argue the cups are unimportant and a few less games a desirable thing ignore one of my basic requirements of football, ie that if my team are involved in a game/competition which supporters are charged money to see and travel to at their considerable geographical and financial inconvenience, the very least they are entitled to expect is that any 11 players on the field at any time pull their flipping tripe out.
So while the league campaign was done no damage, over the course of four competitive matches Kean’s Rovers have demonstrated far more weaknesses than strengths thus far, more fraility than flair.
Those consoling themselves with the statistical satisfaction that we lie third with the aforementioned seven points need to be mindful that the like of Brighton, Derby and Middlesbrough started as well or better a year ago while eventual champs Reading were at this stage in the a run of four successive league defeats which had a wobbling Brian McDermott enduring stern criticism.
Nothing compared to that our man continues to receive of course and even despite the mildly surprising opening results there remains understandably little goodwill towards him.
The feeling remains that if anyone can get this strangely
unbalanaced squad to perform to the best of its ability, it won’t be Keano.
A lucky manager is quite something to be. Sam Allardyce was not without an odd dollop of good fortune but it was all engendered from a base of proven methodology and tactical acumen.
With Kean, you know when the luck runs out, there’s nothing else to rest a hope on…