PAUL Lambert believes the difference between the Blackburn Rovers team he inherited and the one that will take to the field in tomorrow’s big Lancashire derby is ‘night and day’.

Rovers welcome Preston North End to Ewood Park for an eagerly anticipated showdown that will bring the memories flooding back for Lambert.


As the Lilywhites were the opponents in what was his first game in charge of the club back on November 21.

Rovers ran out 2-1 winners that day to move five points clear of the relegation places and ensure Lambert’s reign got off to the perfect start.

Going into tomorrow’s lunchtime kick-off the gap to the bottom three stands at nine points following the hard-fought victory at Brentford before the international break.

And Lambert said: “It’s been up and down in terms of results since then but since the turn of the year, and after we got some lads in to help the ones who were already here, I think we’ve played well.

“Sometimes we have lost games but there’s not been too many times when I’ve been majorly down with our performances.

Lancashire Telegraph:

“The group needed freshening up a bit and if you look at the team that started and finished against Preston in my first game, compared to the one we have now, then it’s night and day.

“The turnaround has been pretty big in a short space of time.

“I think we’re playing well and we are getting there but, as I always knew, this is a big job.

“Any club that has been in an embargo shows that things have been wrong. It’s going forward and how it rectifies itself that’s important now.

“It’s a brilliant club, an absolute great club, but one which has lost its way and one which has to get that good feeling back.”

The build-up to tomorrow’s meeting of the Football League founders has been overshadowed by the release of the club’s accounts, which revealed Rovers are now £104.2m in debt, and the impending departure of director Alan Myers.

Both have raised questions over the direction the club is heading under owners Venky’s.

But come 12.30pm tomorrow the focus will be shifted back to the football with Rovers aiming to erase the memories of their most recent derby clashes with Burnley and Bolton Wanderers.

Lambert, whose side went down 1-0 at the Macron Stadium and Turf Moor, said: “I know this game is not as big as Blackburn Rovers v Burnley but it’s still a big game.

“Burnley are a good side and we should have got something from that. Bolton away was disappointing but since the turn of the year we’ve been playing well and we’ll be going into this game ready for it.”

Preston will be backed by 7,000 supporters after they sold out their entire allocation for the Bryan Douglas Darwen End.

That led to the Lilywhites’ former Rovers striker Joe Garner stating there would be more away fans in Ewood than home supporters.

But Lambert said: “When we went to Preston in our first game, if we could have taken more supporters then we would have done.

“It held 5,000 behind the goal but our stadium is big. You’d expect that crowd to come.”