Football: Rudi highlights home truths

Blackburn Rovers 1 Sheffield Wednesday 4
Click to follow
The Independent Online
VIEWING FOOTBALL from Ewood Park in recent weeks it has been tempting to regard management as easy. Even England you can do part-time, while everything Brian Kidd touched turned to goals. Cold reality has intruded on this cosy impression.

It was difficult to know whether this result was because Blackburn were inept or Wednesday sublime, but the juxtaposition made for a one-sided encounter. Forget the Match Of The Day highlights which painted Rovers in a better light; Petter Rudi, alone, could have had five goals and the 7-2 result of last season might have been reversed.

That was depressing enough for Rovers supporters, but like chimes of doom results came in from around the country and by the time they had finished Blackburn were fourth from bottom, only two points above the relegation places. Considering that this was only Kidd's second defeat in the 14 games he has been in charge the price was disproportionately severe, but the Blackburn manager was resolutely upbeat.

"It was a tired team running on empty," he said. "I'm not panicking, the effort the players have put in over the last few weeks has been first- class and I can't thank them enough. They made mistakes today but they made them honestly."

Kidd was also honest enough to describe Wednesday as a very good team and on this occasion they were. On Saturday their passing, particularly from Wim Jonk and Andy Hinchcliffe, was a delight.

That art is an impossible one unless you have people making runs to give the man with the ball options. Rudi and Niclas Alexandersson rampaged down the flanks, making a mockery of a home offside trap that would not have caught a Sunday pub team with minds dulled by last night's ale, never mind one playing as well as Wednesday.

The result was mayhem. Jeff Kenna ought to introduce himself to Rudi on the phone because he never got within shouting distance on the pitch while Blackburn's central defence, admittedly disrupted by Stephane Henchoz's withdrawal, was rattled like a baby's toy.

Blackburn's first goal, a neat interchange between Rudi and Booth and a shot from Danny Sonner, wrote the agenda and we were on to any other business once Rudi struck twice in three minutes just before half-time. The first was a vicious drive into the roof of the net after magical control by Benito Carbone while the second was a header from Rudi.

Only Damien Duff's shot against the bar interrupted the one-way traffic in the first half, but there was a marked improvement in the second half and, if Nathan Blake had swung and hit instead of missed after Jason McAteer had scored after 67 minutes, an unlikely draw might have been salvaged.

Instead the Blackburn back four allowed Andy Booth to muscle through for Wednesday's fourth. Given that Rudi had three one-on-ones with John Filan in the second half, it was the least the visitors deserved.

They have now compiled a little run of three wins in their last four Premiership games and relegation is becoming a receding danger. Which is not how you could describe Blackburn, given this performance. "The Premiership is paramount," Kidd said, and surely they have enough good players to avoid end-of-season embarrassment. Another is likely to arrive soon because the Blackburn manager's reply to questions about Steve Lomas would have drawn smoke-screen points from a politician.

"I don't know where that came from," he replied, and then spelled out the injury problems that insist Lomas will be at Ewood Park sooner rather than later. On this evidence he is needed urgently.

Goals: Sonner (20) 0-1; Rudi (40) 0-2; Rudi (43) 0-3; McAteer (67) 1- 3; Booth (83) 1-4.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Filan; Kenna, Henchoz (Peacock, 48), Broomes, Davidson; Gillespie, McAteer, Dunn, Duff; Ward, Jansen (Blake, h-t). Substitutes not used: Marcolin, Croft, Flowers (gk).

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Atherton, Thome, Walker (Briscoe, h-t), Hinchcliffe; Alexandersson, Jonk, Sonner (Cobian, 58), Rudi; Booth, Carbone. Substitutes not used: Humphreys, Agogo, Clarke (gk).

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street). Booking: Sheffield Wednesday: Carbone.

Man of the match: Rudi.

Attendance: 24,643.