Roker Report: How would you rate Blackburn’s performance so far this season? You find yourself currently 6th in the league. Do you think Rovers are overperforming, underperforming or just about right?
Matt Moonan: Overall it’s been good but defined by a very strong start followed by a few losses on the bounce so overperforming at the start and underperforming at the moment, even with some important players currently injured.
RR: What do you make of your transfer business in the summer window? Happy with the additions, some big losses or need to add some in January?
MM: Going in to the season, losing Saffron Jordan and Tash Fenton was a worry. Tyler Toland arrived with a good pedigree, a technical 6 who can battle and run all day. She has also recently returned to the Republic or Ireland first team following Vera Pauw being let go. Early signs for young WSL loan players like Hannah Silcock in defence & Jemima Dahou as an attacking midfielder have been positive & Georgia Walters brings experience, leadership, is important to how we want to play and seems to be enjoying her second spell with the club.
RR: After a very positive start for Rovers, the team has hit a rough patch of form recently, losing four on the bounce. What do you feel this is down to? Injuries, tactics, confidence etc.
MM: Results indicate that the change in fortunes was affected by losing our Captain Jade Richards and our attacking talisman Meg Hornby to injury. Richards seems to knit everything together defensively which was a big part of our good start and when Hornby is on the pitch, the players seem to have more belief they can get a goal at any point.
I think the rest of the squad are still capable of getting results but they need to play better collectively than they have over the last few games.
RR: Is there anyone who you’d say is having a breakout season or performing above expectations?
MM: I always thought Meg Hornby was good but she seems to be playing with a new assurance this season, has taken on more responsibility and is producing goals and assists consistently.
RR: Who would you say could be a thorn in the side for Sunderland? Who do we need to look out for?
MM: I would say Tash Fenton’s old midfield partner Emma Doyle. After a long period out with a knee injury, early in the season she showed the ability to carry the ball and get Rovers on the front foot however she didn’t start v London City Lionesses last week so may have to come off the bench again.
RR: It’s always tough to give a score prediction, but how do you see this game panning out?
MM: Simon Parker, our Head Coach who previously took Lewes to a 5th place finish said the first half last week v London City Lionesses was not good enough. I think there will be a response with a focus on defensive solidity (particularly not conceding an early goal). I could see it being 0-0.
RR: And lastly, what are your expectations for Blackburn this year? How do you think they’ll do for the remainder of the season?
MM: The players will continue to adapt to the new Head Coach’s system that is more expansive than previous, Hornby and Richards will return to the side and Niamh Murphy who is also a big player for us will likely soon make her first appearance this season. Other young players in our squad will also continue to learn at a rapid rate through games played. This will all hopefully lead to us getting back to how we were at the start of the season. I think our good start means we can still afford to look up & I think finishing in the top half is a realistic target, which is fantastic taking in to account that would be our best ever finish in the Women’s Championship and Rovers are not yet a full time club.