Date: 20th September 2006 at 11:46pm
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Despite Blackburn Rovers picking up their first win of the 2006-2007 season last weekend one thing that has been apparent all season would again be highlighted… Ryan Nelsen is needed at the back.

They say goals win matches, which is true, but it is also true that if you don’t concede goals you won’t lose! First and foremost you have to approach a game looking not to lose, and to do so you need to have a defence you have faith in, and quite honestly a Rovers defence without The Admiral (Nelsen) doesn’t feel me with as much optimism as it would with a defence with him in it!

The Admiral is such an important member, not only to the defence but the team as a whole and has been sorely missed so far this season as Rovers has shipped goals like never before with him part of he back four. The natural born leader shepherds the defence, his quality and demeanour on the field ooze to others around him, and despite others best efforts, and claims from the likes of Stephane Henchoz that he can fill the void The Admiral is almost irreplaceable…

Since the 28-year-old New Zealander’s arrival at Ewood Park from American Major League side DC United in January 2005 on a free transfer (surely the clubs best ever capture with no fee involved, arguably one of the best ever full stop!) the Rovers defence has been tighter than a ducks behind in water, and that is watertight!

Although a team effort, the impact that he had on the side for the latter part of the 2004-2005 season can’t be understated. His arrival would happen to coincide with an upturn in fortunes, and a far tighter defence enabling Rovers to move away from the possible threat of relegation, which had looked very possible before his and manager Mark Hughes’ arrivals.

The 2005-2006 season, having performed so magnificently since making his Rovers debut in the final half of the previous season in the match with Chelsea on the 2nd February 2005, therefore earning himself a three-year contract extension, would see The Admiral be a key part of the Rovers side that excelled when finishing in 6th place, thus qualifying for the UEFA Cup.

This summer, despite The Admiral being out injured, having suffered injuries at the tail end of last season, he would be subject to three separate bids from Premiership rivals Portsmouth, the last of which would be a £5 million offer, all of which were rejected, with him eventually signing yet anther improved deal, putting pen to paper on a new four-year contract.

The Admiral has been unable to feature so far during the 2006-2007 season, also missing out on the whole of pre-season due to a troublesome hamstring injury, which has now been operated on by one of the top surgeons in that particular field. He should, all being well return to first team action for the busy Christmas period.

His return however can’t come soon enough, as if you still need convincing take a look at these stats that should reaffirm just how influential he is, without Ryan Nelsen at the heart of the defence Rovers concede FAR more goals.

2004-2005 Season: Arrived in January, debut at the start of February 2005
Before his arrival, in 28 League and Cup games Rovers conceded 36 goals. An average of 1.29 goals per game conceded.

Following his January 2005 arrival Nelsen played 18 League and Cup games, in which Rovers conceded only 13 goals. That’s an average of 0.72 goals per game conceded.

Granted Rovers played ten more games without him that season, but going on the current rate before his arrival they could have conceded an extra 10 goals. It might not sound a lot but had most of these goals came in matches drawn, or won by a single goal Premiership football, let alone European Football might not at this moment be happening…

2005-2006 Season: His first full season with the club
With Nelsen in the side in 38 League and Cup matches Rovers only conceded 38 goals. An average of 1 goal conceded per game.

Without Nelsen in the side in 10 League and Cup games they would concede 16 goals, an average of 1.6 goals conceded per game.

Without Nelsen in the side, Rovers conceded almost half the number of goals (38 with, 16 without) in just over a quarter of the amount of games! (38 with, 10 without)

2005-2006 Season:
Without Nelsen, up to and including the Manchester City game Rovers have conceded 10 goals in 6 matches in all competitions, an average of 1.67 goals conceded per game.

This means the amount already conceded is almost a quarter of the entire amount of League and Cup goals conceded in the whole of last season with Nelsen in the side in only six matches this season without him!!! A frighteningly alarming, if not ASTONISHING fact…

Overall Record:
With Nelsen in the side Rovers have conceded 51 goals in his 56 League and Cup appearances, at an average of 1.1 goals per game.

Since his debut, if unavailable through injury, which would be the only reason for him no to play, besides suspension, Rovers have conceded (again up to and including Manchester City) 26 goals in only 16 games at an average of 1.62 goals per game.

Since the Admirals arrival, without him in the side in only half the amount of games, Rovers have conceded almost a third as many goals as they have when he has been playing.

I hope this all makes sense?

In summary Nelsen playing equals fewer goals conceded, marginally over 1 goal per game he plays, without him 1.62 goals per game is conceded. These .62 goals extra per season mount up so he is needed, and the sooner the better… basically ROVERS DESPERATELY NEED THE ADMIRAL!

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