Blackburn Rovers took a step closer to the end of their 11 year Premier League stay at White Hart Lane today, losing 2-0 to Tottenham Hotspur without putting up a fight whatsoever.
On the outside of it, a 2-0 loss to a club sat in fourth when the opponents are down in 19th in the league doesn’t sound that bad. But today Blackburn were an absolute embarrassment to the small town in Lancashire, their fans around the world and, in particular, those fans that travelled to London to support their club.
The early signs were that Spurs would dominate, with Aaron Lennon causing problem after problem for the Blackburn defence, who had last week kept a clean sheet by beating Norwich 2-0 at Ewood Park. But Lennon seemed to have left his shooting boots at home.
Rafael van der Vaart broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute, poking home after the ball bounced around the six-yard area, following a Bale header that was headed onto the bar by Scott Dann.
Chances came thick and fast for Spurs, as Blackburn’s 3-5-2 formation chopped and changed. Sometimes there were 9 or 10 in defence and as the half-time whistle was blown, commentators, pundits and fans cried out for Steve Kean to change it up.
But the second half began with absolutely no changes. The shape remained the same, with the Spurs midfield orchestrating the game throughout, and Blackburn’s lack of a defensive midfielder to break up Spurs’ play punched Blackburn in the gut time and time again.
A 75th minute free kick thunderbolt fired into the top corner by Kyle Walker provided the killer blow for Blackburn, who ended the game without having a single shot – the first time since 2004 that a team has gone a whole game without doing so.
Steve Kean was praised previously as having done a “great job” by Sky Sports and Harry Redknapp. But as fans sat there with their heads in their hands, and the club’s Premier League status running through their fingers like the proverbial sands of time, those comments fell on deaf ears, and both were made to look very stupid.
Rovers were shambolic, and it wasn’t the players, as Gary Neville said late in the second half, that had not given their all. It was the leadership from the media’s favourite son, Steve Kean. The club must beat Wigan and Chelsea to even be in with a chance of staying in the league. And even then, will be relying on other results around them.
Spurs, on the other hand, were fortunate to meet a team as bad as Blackburn after the run they have been on. A team with more quality, commitment and leadership would have torn the hosts apart. Blackburn, and it’s not the first time this season, made Spurs look like world-beaters.