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Rovers Blog: Old pros left to perform miracle
THINK back to the end of last season, and a few memories spring to mind.
Among them, Brett Emerton’s stunning volley on the final day at Wolves, and his goal against Manchester United a week earlier.
There was Chris Samba’s heroic performance at West Ham United, when he flung himself in the way of what seemed like a million shots as Rovers hung on to a draw.
And also there was Jason Roberts’ goal at Molineux, crucially putting Rovers in front on the road, just as he had done at Upton Park a fortnight previously.
Those three players did not keep Rovers up on their own, far from it, but they were undeniably important.
Senior professionals generally are as the season moves to its close, as the pressure increases and the margin for error becomes slim.
They have been there before and know how to deal with it.
They have been around long enough to understand the club and the importance of the situation.
They are often capable of digging deep and finding something extra, something heroic at the right time.
That may be what Rovers are now dependent upon, their best hope of getting out of what is a very worrying predicament.
The signs do not look good after Saturday’s 7-1 defeat at Arsenal and this weekend could be make or break.
Rovers host QPR, Bolton entertain Wigan and Wolves are at home to West Bromwich Albion.
Steve Kean’s side could feasibly end the weekend out of the relegation zone, or six points adrift of safety.
The current squad have battled hard all season, but they have been given little help. Not enough key additions in January, the difficulty of playing in a climate in which the manager is unmistakably unpopular with fans, and the departure of senior player after senior player.
Of the three players mentioned above, Emerton and Roberts have gone. Samba has not played since he decided he wanted to leave, nor has Michel Salgado since the club decided they would like him to go.
Ryan Nelsen, too, has exited.
The group of old pros, influential in the dressing room and on the pitch, has shrunk considerably in number.
It seems unfair to expect the small group remaining to now perform the miracle, to guide a young squad and save themselves from relegation, but that is what it may come down to.
So can the likes of David Dunn, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Paul Robinson and Yakubu come up with that key contribution?
Will Chris Samba be able to do the same, if he comes back into first-team contention?
If not, it is difficult to see just how Rovers can survive.
If they can, those players deserve every praise.
They will have had the biggest role in keeping Rovers in the Premier League, a task that looks far from easy right now.
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