The storming performances against Manchester City and Chelsea over the previous seven days showed us how gloriously exciting being in the Premier League can be. Two clashes pitting the Tigers against teams stuffed with multi-millionaire players with world-class reputations – it was a double reminder as to why we spent 104 years coveting a place in the top tier.
However, many more games in this league are just a slog between teams too frightened to play expansive, attacking football in case they make a mistake. After all, concede a goal in a critical game and you can lose points, followed by your Premier League status and with it tens of millions of pounds in revenue.
This night in Lancashire was a particularly brutal war of attrition and the biggest, strongest and most organised side prevailed, without being forced to show much quality or adventure.
We set out with unchanged personnel and 4-4-2 formation for the fourth game in a row, yet the manner of play was starkly different to the trio of home games which had produced five points.
Where at The Circle we try to seize the initiative and play a fast-paced, pressing game, away from home we can’t replicate it, even when the line-up is the same.
We struggled to offer any sort of attacking threat beyond an early shot from Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink that was well-struck and low but barely troubled Paul Robinson in the Rovers goal.
Of course, if George Boateng had not been ridiculously sent off for a clash of heads in the first half, the game might have panned out differently. However, that’s probably wishful thinking as we’d been second best up to then and there was no sign of breaking the stranglehold that Sam Allardyce’s team had on the game.
A final word for Phil Brown. His team didn’t perform but at least he made a positive change in the second half, subbing both full-backs and switching to 3-4-2 to try and sneak a point. If we’d showed more attacking intent in some other away games – dor instance Bolton and Manchester United – we could have snaffled a win.