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Premier League

Yakubu fails to receive just rewards for latest Ewood masterclass


It has now become just about impossible to make sense of anything and everything that happens to Blackburn Rovers under the stewardship of Venky's, but that there is still life in their season lies solely at the feet of one inspired, deadline day signing.

Goodness only knows the kind of rage that would have flooded the streets around Ewood Park if Yakubu had not moved from Everton when the transfer window closed.

The Nigerian forward is not a complicated man, and there is nothing complicated about the way he plays but he has picked away steadily all season at the sense of chaos around Blackburn, turning the situation back to the actual football field, and that in itself was some ask.

Much happened at Ewood Park last night away from their talismanic centre forward, but his night's work roughly entailed missing a penalty, scoring a neat header to drag his side back into the game when they trailed by two goals, winning a second penalty through his hard work, and then having the mental composure to block out his earlier miss and this time score from the penalty spot.


It is difficult to quantify that kind of contribution to any side, but for one fighting relegation it is pretty much Herculean.

His two goals in last night's stirring 3-2 defeat to Liverpool took his tally for the season to 18. That is the form of a £20m striker in his prime, not one whose star was clearly fading before Steve Kean took a punt. How good a signing that actually was will only be really measurable once the season has finished, but that this Rovers side, who have an incredible ability for self-destruction, are in there scrapping is down to this man.

Aside from the goals, Yakubu has proved to be a perfect foil for a real talent in Junior Hoilett. Hoilett is all pace and direct running, but he has needed the muscular presence of Yakubu to really flourish.

It is probably worth remembering that Yakubu is not even 30 yet, and has a career of regular goalscoring under his belt, most notably with Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Everton, initially at least, and more recently Leicester. But what is more remarkable is that he has never been this prolific at any of those clubs. Yakubu is way better than one in two this season and with each goal, his new football club gains a modicum of hope.

It felt cruel that he should end up on the losing side last night, especially with the manner in which that came, at the death, from his opposing number with the kind of header he has made a career from gobbling up.

The headlines inevitably move to Andy Carroll, in light of the size of his transfer fee from Newcastle, and the kind of pressure that has built on his still young shoulders as he has fought to adapt to a new club and a new city.

That has never been a problem for the Yak, and whatever happens in the rest of this season – and you would have to be delusional to predict what Blackburn Rovers will do next – one man can head off on his summer holidays with his head held high.

Blackburn's often besieged looking players have fed the Yak, and then fed him some more. Venky's cannot save Rovers now, even Kean's influence is waning, but Yakubu might have enough goals left in him to take it to the wire at least.