Vital Newcastle: You've got to the semi finals of the FA Cup, seemed solid in the league and had a good run in Europe - sounds good but how do you feel the seasons gone so far?
Hughes Da Man: It is tough to say it has been bad especially when you see exactly what we have done this season written down like that in front of you. A few weeks back I was of the opinion that if we missed out on Europe next season despite all the good that has come of this it would be ultimately a disappointing one.
However, why should I view it as such as it hasn`t been it`s just been another step in the bigger picture of going where we are, and that is in the right direction. We are still going through that transition phase of relegation threatened side to genuine UEFA Cup, possibly bordering on Champions League challengers year in year out.
VN: Sir Taggart seems close to retiring at Old Trafford - is Hughes 'Da Man' (excuse the pun!) to take over or will Roy 'Dog Botherer' Keane get the job?
HDM: Dog botherer, I like that LOL, and it was a good time for such a pun!
I`d not given Keane much thought for the Manure job until recently when he came out with his outrageous claims that his Sunderland side would have beaten Rovers or Chelsea who played out a "poor" FA Cup Semi Final. It was around this time that someone else pointed out that maybe he will be right person for it not Sparky?
Sparky WILL take the seat at Old Trafford at some point and I still feel he is the one that will get it when Fergie does call it a day, but can`t see this being for a few years yet… HOPEFULLY!
VN: I hate to mention it but Ewood Park's attendances have been shocking this year. What do you think is to blame?
HDM: You only state the truth, but I wouldn`t say much is to blame really (certainly not ticket prices that`s for sure!) as you play the hand you are dealt, and lets face it Blackburn is a small town (and the average wage in Lancashire isn`t exactly high) so drawing on the locals will only get us so many people turning out.
Unlike Newcastle and to a larger extent London we can`t really draw on those from surrounding areas as these surrounding areas will not generally be drawn to an "unfashionable club" such as Rovers, but as we rise up again you watch these attendances grow, with the ticket prices being kept low again next season, in fact lower (which other Premiership side could you get a season ticket with for as LITTLE as £249!!!) we`ll have a decent enough crowd, even if on the smallish side.
Our future is VERY geared at the next generation; keeping football affordable to them will see us win in the long run!
VN: How do Blackburn fans see Newcastle as a club?
HDM: I don`t really like speaking for the majority but from my viewpoint I have no problems with Newcastle (I like pretty much EVERYONE!) as a club. In terms of fans and stadium size etc. you are a VERY big club and as such have underachieved, as you guys deserve a lot more than you`ve got.
VN: Who should we be watching out for on Saturday?
HDM: I would say most of the players as they are fired up for one last assault and push to make that European place, even if this means taking the route you did last season, the Intertoto Cup. To have ANY chance we have to win on Saturday.
David Bentley has been a problem for most clubs this season, so watch him but Jason Roberts is really coming into his own after a season disrupted by injuries and a fight to dislodge Matt Derbyshire (who is another you should watch if he comes on from the bench) so JR`s pace and power will be a threat especially against a defence (with all due respect) isn`t the strongest. The link up with Benni McCarthy is especially crucial.
VN: Who will Mark Hughes be singling out for special treatment on our side?
HDM: Again with all due respect not too many feel me with too much worry. Obafemi Martins looks a danger and Michael Owen will be looking to make up for lost time, he is still a player I wouldn`t have to think too much about taking if we got the chance (despite injuries that have mounted over the years) but the man I`ll be most glad about missing out (assuming he will) is Shay Given as he has been your saviour more than once this season, and over the years. Had it not been for the excellent Tim Flowers at the time he may very well have still been playing for us, although I wouldn`t swap Brad Friedel for anyone, well almost anyone except maybe Petr Cech.
VN: Finally what's your prediction for the game?
HDM: It`s you last home match of the season so you`ll be wanting to sign off with a win. We are determined to get back into the UEFA Cup next season so we`ll be all out for a win. If we attack you with pace and power early on then we`ll win, so I`ll go for a Rovers win, 2-0 maybe 3-1.
My thanks to Hughes Da Man for that. If you want to see the reverse spin and see what we had to say to Blackburn check out this link:
Vital Newcastle interview with HDM