BOLTON: Bolton manager Sam Allardyce said he is facing up to his greatest challenge in management after Blackburn's well-deserved 1-0 win at the Reebok Stadium pushed the Wanderers further into the Premier League wilderness.
It marked a sixth consecutive defeat for Allardyce's men who stood fourth in the Premier League as recently as the first day of November, but who now seem likely to be dragged into a bitter relegation campaign in the new year, failing a rapid stop to their loss of form.
“We are sliding towards the relegation zone,” said Allardyce after Tuesday's reverse which left them eighth from bottom.
“Our form is only a hair's breadth away from putting us in the bottom three. It is not about who we play next, it is about how we play. We have to get back to the way we know works for a result.
“I have not had anything this big in my five years here. When I arrived here we were in crisis in the bottom half of the First Division but we still got into the play-offs that year.
“We never lost three on the trot, never mind six. We have lost our last three home games 1-0 and that effects confidence and performance. There is a severe lack of confidence running through the team and the only thing that will change that is a win or a draw.
“We have only kept two clean sheets all season and that lack of confidence is now effecting us at the other end. We are not producing the same quality finish or delivery, we have stopped turning half chances into goals.
“We huffed and we puffed today but we have got to get back to basic and believe it will eventually produce a result of some sort.”
Rovers' Paul Dickov scored the game's only goal to continue his, and Blackburn's, impressive recent revival under former Wales manager Mark Hughes.
Indeed, the victory pulled Rovers to within four points of their Lancashire neighbours - a state of affairs that would have been unthinkable a few weeks ago.
Hughes said: “It was a great goal by Paul and he's having a fantastic season. He has that ability, just to score goals, whether inside the box or outside the box.
“He harasses players and doesn't give the back four any time to settle. His was a first-class performance and he'll get all the headlines, quite rightly. But he will be the first to acknowledge the work his team mates did in protecting that lead.
“He's having a fantastic season, he has great enthusiasm, great work ethic and drags other players along with him. That's going to be important for us in the second half of the season.”
The win also lifts Blackburn four points above the relegation drop zone and concerns about possibly losing their status in the top flight now seem a thing of the past.
A delighted Hughes added: “We're playing decent football, that's one defeat in ten games now but because we haven't been able to take three points on occasions, rather than just one, we are where we are in the table.
“Today we were able to turn a performance into three points and that has helped.
“If we continue in the same vein we won't have any problems, we'll have a decent second half to the season, but we have to keep working hard.” – AFP