Date: 5th November 2009 at 10:51pm
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Mikey Delap – from Vital Blackburn answers some questions ahead of the Blackburn v Pompey game this weekend.

Fairly early days still I know, but are you happy with how your season is going so far?
Yes and no. I’ll sit on the fence to start. Obviously I would be a lot more pleased if we were a little higher up the league but we have played the top 3 away so I can forgive that. The performances are mainly good, a lot better than people suggest. Apart from the Chelsea, Man United and Arsenal matches we have given everyone a game and are perhaps a little unlucky not to have more points on the board but there you go – I suppose you guys could be saying the same anyway!

The same old slow start is apparently now a tradition for the Rovers but we will come good, of that I am sure.

Is Fat Sam the right manager for you?
As far as I am concerned yes. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea but he knows what he is doing. The reason the casual fan may not be that endeared to him is because he doesn’t play the purist way and it mainly works! Something people can’t stand. He has the backing of the players and they all want to play for him. His man management skills are up there with the best and he has been round long enough to know how to get out of a sticky spot.

We are all set up for a mid table finish this season and for a club with our limited budget… that will suit us all just fine, even if it is not what everybody wants some will have to learn to accept it!

Are the club treating the fans well, or are they fleecing you?
The club treat us very well. We have the third lowest season and match day tickets prices in the entire football league behind Morecambe and Accrington! Can’t complain about that. The club needs to do it to attract a healthy audience as the club suffers from its location – more fashionable clubs such as Man City and Everton are about as well as the propensity for glory hunting from Man United and Liverpool fans. We also have to compete with Bolton, Wigan and the almighty six fingered lot from down the road as well now. All in all, Blackburn may have only a small town catchment area, but the last thing anyone can accuse the club of is fleecing the fans.

Granted, the usual ghosts are still looming such as high priced football shirts and hospitality boxes but the club is a business and needs to make money. I am confident John Williams and the crew do everything possible to avoid passing any extra cost onto fans.

Who do you think was your best summer signing and why?
So far I will say the best and somewhat surprisingly is Steven N’Zonzi. The permanent signing of Gael Givet and the loan signing of Chelsea’s Franco Di Santo also deserve a mention but the young French midfielder has been the best. He was signed from FC Amiens in France for a paltry £400,000 and is a central midfielder. He is tall, athletic and can hold his own on the ball. He is young and by no means the finished article but he has the tools to reach the top from what I can see. Steven wasn’t actually supposed to be involved this heavily to start but injuries have kicked in and he has got his shot early.

And so far he has let nobody down.

Could you have done with more arrivals – if so in which areas and maybe even who?
I am not sure we need more bodies, we couldn’t have afforded more. We have plenty of good players (or so I believe). We could have done with replacing the underperforming Keith Andrews whilst we had a shot (£3 million from Fulham bid) and maybe even swapped the frustrating Morten Gamst Pedersen with someone else like for like but on the whole, when everyone is fit and raring to go, I feel we have a top ten squad.

We were linked with Nikola Kalinic before you got him, although we could not afford him – how is he working out for you?
It has been a slow start for Nikola as he was not fit but he is slowly, slowly coming good. He cost £6 million in the end I am sure he will more than justify that come the summer at the latest. Nikola had a dog of a debut against Sunderland and missed three sitters but the clues are there – he was in the right spot everytime.

Since then he has made mainly sub appearances but he got a start against Peterborough in the Carling Cup and did very well. Strong running and bagged his first Rovers goal from the spot. He even had one chalked off last week against Man United which should never have been disallowed.

Some fans have got frustrated we haven’t seen more from him but we will, patience is the key with new foreign signings – they need time to adjust and I am certain we have signed a good one here.

What were your expectations, or hopes before the season kicked-off? Have they changed since?
My personal expectations were for a solid league finish and a stab at one of the cups if we got a chance and I must say that nothing has changed. Last season after the Paul Ince debacle this time round was always going to be a consolidate season and so it will prove.

We have also reached the Quarters of the Carling Cup, much like yourselves, so maybe my cup dream will come true too?

But I think we are on course for a 10th/11th position finish and I still concur this is what will happen.

What about Pompey, what do you think we should expect or hope for now?
Given the clubs financial plight I would just say SURVIVAL. It is not nice what has happened to you and I will be honest I really have a soft spot for Pompey and their fans (but please just get rid of that god forsaken bell) but given the player sales that have been made and the re-consolidation of the club, mixed with the uncertainty of the ownership I would say just get the right side of that red line and it will be job done.

I hope I am not sounding too gloomy but this is realistically what to expect as any club would in the position Pompey found themselves in over the summer.

I hope you pull it off.

It looks like Benni McCarthy is on his way out – how do you feel about this? How would you feel if he somehow ended up on the South Coast with us?
I can actually see this happening as his good mate Aaron Mokoena is over with you guys and would be a familiar face for him. Benni is a good player and great goalscorer on his day but he does not fit into our system at present with David Dunn putting in a good shift and being irreplaceable at present.

I personally would like him to stay but in the present scenario I cant see it. He will want regular games with SA 2010 coming up.

It may sound like a sitting on the fence job but I wouldn’t begrudge him a move but I wouldn’t want to lose a good player.

One of your old boys, Aaron Mokoena, has been targeted by some of the ‘boo boys’ at Fratton this season as he has not exactly been ‘up to scratch’ I guess, not that I would ever fault his commitment, effort or dedication – does this reaction he has got from some surprise you?
No not at all. He got similar treatment from Rovers fans too. His efforts levels and fierce tackling are great but Rovers fans got on his back because he is very limited when it comes to his movement and passing. There was a facebook group set up called “Aaron Mokoena is not good enough to play for Blackburn Rovers” which I personally didn’t endorse but it had plenty of members.

He will do a job for you I am sure but you can’t have two Aaron Mokoena’s in your team is I suppose what I am saying.

Who is the real Blackburn danger man that Pompey need to watch this weekend?
David Dunn. The boy is on fire this season and is our only constant creative spark and is also our top scorer. He will run strongly all day long and look to get in the hole behind the striker at all times. He is not injured like usual and as usual when is not injured he is the man to watch.

He is the real danger.

If you could take any Pompey player and put him in your squad who would it be and why?
Although not strictly your own player I like Jamie O’Hara. I would also not mind a quick dabble with Younes Kaboul and after last weekend Aruna Dindane. He looks a good signing despite his horror miss against Spurs.

Is there anyone that you would like to send Pompey’s way?
Despite defending him last season I am losing patience with Keith Andrews so anyone is welcome to him at present. Apart from that I don’t wish any harm on Portsmouth so I will only recommend some good young loan players in Junior Hoilett and Phil Jones. Both of which are destined for a good stint in the Premier League – particularly Hoilett.

Go on, who’s going to win the latest ‘relegation battle?’
On the whole I feel this weekends game will be an open affair despite two teams being desperate for the points but we have the advantage with it being at Ewood Park. Ultimately our home form this season will likely be very good so I will back us to take the game 3-1. Either way these Blackburn Pompey games are always fun affairs so it should be an enjoyable one regardless!

I am gonna stick with my early season picks of Hull, Wolves and Pompey. I am sorry to include you in this as I would love the answer to be Burnley but I am sticking with my picks. Sorry guys, although I will not be sad to see you prove me wrong.

Questions answered by Mikey Delap from Vital Blackburn – look out for my answers to their questions on their site in due course.



Do not forget that there will be a ‘Pompey match day live’ feature during the game, so join others on Vital Pompey as it unfolds – assuming you are not at it of course!


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