Allardyce: We've had great year

Blackburn manager says his 10th-placed side deserve plaudits for their progress
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The Independent Online

Sam Allardyce feels Blackburn Rovers deserve more credit for what he believes has developed into a "great" season.

Rovers moved up to 10th in the Premier League table on Sunday with a 1-0 win at local rivals Burnley, their fourth victory in seven games.

After losing influential players such as Roque Santa Cruz, Stephen Warnock and Tugay last summer, the team have lifted themselves away from relegation danger and yesterday completed the double over their Lancashire neighbours at Turf Moor.

The result also suggested Rovers may be starting to address their problems away from home, having picked up only one other league win on the road this term. With a Carling Cup semi-final appearance to boot, it has been a fairly successful campaign for Allardyce's charges.

Blackburn have been criticised for their playing style on a number of occasions but Allardyce feels the team is progressing well as he nears the completion of his first full season in charge.

"The mixture of youth we have with experience is getting better and better and, thankfully, it's our second away victory, so we have put that bogey to rest now," the former Bolton manager said. "We look forward to [Saturday's fixture at] Portsmouth and if we can win there, what a season we're on the way to having.

"We are on 41 points with six games to go. We are looking on the up and enjoying our football. It's been a great season already. We should be getting a bit more credit than we have. There has been an awful lot of perception thrown about with long-ball this and ugly that which follows us around, but there has been nothing farther from the truth.

"We had a struggle at the start of the season because of all the new faces and the turnaround of players, but they have finally come to terms with each other, they are finally getting to know each other and enjoying each other's company more.

"We are building something that will, hopefully, last us for a good period of time, based on the younger players who have done a magnificent job, and the older, experienced players, who have seen and done it for a long time."

David Dunn sealed the win over Burnley from the penalty spot in the first half and the Blackburn-born midfielder paid tribute to the impact Allardyce has made at the club since joining at the end of 2008.

"I think in terms of the supporters, it was always going to be difficult when a manager comes in from your local rivals," Dunn said.

"We've got Burnley and Bolton in our league and of course, if their ex-manager comes, it's going to take a while for them to win the fans over. But I don't think there is a supporter out there now who can take a look at Big Sam and have a go at what he has achieved here. He has achieved so much in such a short space of time."

Although the result increased Burnley's relegation fears, Dunn remains hopeful the Clarets can beat the drop, although he suggested that their manager, Brian Laws, may have to reconsider his selection policy if he is to steer the team away from trouble.

"I genuinely do hope they go on a little run of wins and secure their position," Dunn said.

"But I think for them to do that, they have got to play Chris Eagles and Robbie Blake from the start.

"That's not me trying to put pressure on anyone to play them but they did cause us a few more problems when they came on because they are good footballers."

Laws, whose team are three points from safety with six games to play, admitted the pressure of the occasion may have got to his players.

"It was a local derby with a lot at stake and I thought we were a little bit nervous in the first half," he said.

"Maybe Blackburn were a little more confident in terms of their game play than we were in the first half because they have secured themselves in the Premier League and the pressure was quite firmly at our feet."

Meanwhile, the Football Association has started the process of looking into the disorder that broke out among supporters at Sunday's match.

There have been suggestions that coins were thrown at the referee Mike Dean, as well as at Dunn and Rovers' defender Chris Samba.

As many as 40 fans who were at the game were being questioned today by police.

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