Pedersen: It’s the place to be
Sometimes figures can make grim reading for football clubs. With just five points out of a possible 27 and without a win in their last four matches, Blackburn Rovers find themselves rooted to the bottom of the early season’s table in England. The club from the north-west of the country, one of the founder members of the Football League back in 1888, are the only club aside from Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United to win the Premier League, but even now find themselves in a battle against relegation.
Rovers left it to the final day of last season to secure their top-flight status; a 3-2 away win at Wolverhampton Wanderers ensuring that Steve Kean kept the club among English football’s elite, but a vocal minority of the fans are requesting a managerial change. While the club’s longest-serving player Morten Gamst Pedersen is bracing himself for a difficult season, he believes that converting chances and confidence hold the key to improvement, rather than a revolution.
“In the league, if you don’t take your chances you get punished by the opposition and it’s tough,” he told FIFA.com. “It’s hard for us and the fans to take. We just have to start winning games, that’s a fact. If you have 50 shots on target and the other team score and win 1-0 then that’s a fact too. For us now, it’s just about getting points on the board, that’s the most important thing. You can still see that it’s very tight in the league, though, another three or four points and we’re in the middle of the table. We just have to work hard in training and keep going. Hopefully we can get a run of a few wins and draws and it can get us back into the mix straight away. It needs hard work and we must be willing to do it. I’m certainly willing to do it and I hope the rest of the team are. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season but it’s going to be a tough one.”
Many neutrals consider that Blackburn’s current position is a false one and consider that the club’s home defeats to Everton and Wolves in particular were harsh, given the amount of possession and chances they enjoyed in both of the games. Pedersen feels that the 1-0 defeat by Everton had a particularly damaging effect on the side and believes that results are needed to bring about confidence.
“We hit everything except the back of the net against Everton,” he pointed out. “Plus, we conceded a penalty which was harsh in my opinion. It’s those kinds of things that put a little crack in the confidence because you’re doing so well and you get dragged down. You just have to believe and work hard because when it turns and you get a few of those margins in your favour you can suddenly get a few points, climb the table and everybody’s happy. It’s very easy to be negative when things go bad, and it’s easy to be positive when things are going well. Winning games is the most important thing.”
Prior to the start of the season, the 30-year-old flew out to India along with Ryan Nelsen and Jason Roberts to meet the club’s new owners, the Desai family – owners of the Venky’s Group. Pedersen enjoyed the Asian experience and after six years at Rovers, still considers the Premier League as the place to be.
“I will stay here as long as I can and as long as they want me to be here. I’ve still got two-and-a-half years left on my contract and I want to finish that. There was a lot of speculation because I took some time to sort this contract out, but Blackburn was always my first choice and they’ve been taking care of me in the good times and the bad. I think it’s a great club to be at, they treat you well. I’ve been here so long I feel like a part of the club, I’m the longest-serving player at the moment and I’m really proud of that.
“It’s great to play in the Premier League, because it’s the biggest league in the world. It’s the place to be. You just have to look at the coverage it gets all over the world, especially in Asia. If you go over there everybody knows your name and I think they have four channels that show Premier League 24/7, they have many more games on television than there are over here. It’s the same in Norway, you get more games. It just shows how massive the league is. Of course there’s Spanish, Italian and German football which are all big but the Premier League is just a step in front size-wise. At the moment the league is very tight and I think people enjoy watching it because you never know what the outcome of the games will be.”