Sam Allardyce said yesterday that he was aware of El-Hadji Diouf's confrontation with Anton Ferdinand before he signed Diouf from Sunderland for Blackburn Rovers for £2.8m on Friday. Diouf was alleged to have threatened Ferdinand with menace but Allardyce said that he spoke to Sunderland's chairman Niall Quinn who assured him the reports emerging were "blown out of proportion".
Diouf was not signed in time to make his Blackburn debut here but his transfer was easily as interesting a subject as the goalless fare on view. Roque Santa Cruz's lethargic effort to break the deadlock contributed to that. It may have been interpreted as someone intent on avoiding injury but Allardyce was adamant that Santa Cruz will stay at Ewood Park despite Manchester City's wishes. "He's got a Blackburn shirt on today and he'll have won on next week," Allardyce said.
Allardyce's bullishness on transfer business changed when he discussed a game that Rovers shaded without ever being dominant. Stoke's earlier victory over City meant that Blackburn joined Middlesbrough in the bottom three and Allardyce said: "I feel like we've lost. I'm bitterly disappointed. But we can't find that ruthless edge, we keep throwing away games and though we're in an unbeaten run, there are too many draws. We're making life extremely hard for ourselves."
Allardyce added that "great credit" had to go to the Boro goalkeeper Brad Jones for that and Jones's performance justified Gareth Southgate's decision to drop Ross Turnbull in favour of the Australian.
Jones's save in injury-time from Jason Roberts was the pick of a sometimes unconventional bunch of blocks that kept Boro in a contest that was always going to be attritional. It meant a first point in three matches and while many at the Riverside booed their team off at half-time and at the end, Southgate sounded defiant.
His central midfield was the inexperienced Josh Walker and Matthew Bates. "It wasn't pretty, it wasn't the result we'd have wanted but I'm bloody proud of a young group," Southgate said. "They've stayed firm, the goalkeeper made some fantastic saves and in the weeks to come the point might be vital. We're not where we want to be but we're the youngest team in the League and if we can stay up it would be a reasonable achievement."
Boro will need goals if that is to happen. It is 18 from 24 League games now and yesterday there was a near absence of danger from them up front. Paul Robinson in the Blackburn net made one save and that was from a trundling shot by the substituteAfonso Alves.
Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the match: Jones
Match rating: 3/10Reuse content