Blackburn Rovers Are Going To Win The Championship. Well, Probably...
Sometimes, you get bored, very bored – ten out of ten on the boredom scale type of bored – you know what I mean. However, there is an eleven out of ten on this boredom scale. And you know you’ve reached it when you decide to spend an entire afternoon predicting the entire Championship season. The other day, I reached this level of boredom, and, lo and behold, I decided to predict all 46 fixtures of all 24 teams in England’s second tier. Hours of work, and what did I find? Blackburn, that’s Steve Kean’s Blackburn, had won my imaginary Championship.
I was devastated. I thought I’d lost the bloody plot. But, last year, and I’m not bragging (OK, I’m incredibly proud of this, actually), I had prophetically announced that Reading would win that season’s league. And I was, remarkably, right. So, I did some digging, and I’m now delighted to announce that Blackburn will be Championship Champions come May 2013 – and here’s why…
For a start, Blackburn weren’t a bad side last season. Sure, at times they were awful; really quite astonishingly bad, actually (see Arsenal 7-1 Blackburn for proof of that), but it is my belief that, had it not been for the continued hate campaign against Steve Kean and his employers by pockets of the club’s support, the side would have stayed up. And there are certainly elements of that side that are worth keeping.
Junior Hoilett, for instance, is an incredibly talented player, capable of sparks of brilliance. When he was at his best he was a match for the Premier League’s best defenders (seven goals last season proves this) and, when he opposed more inexperienced and incompetent players, he could tiptoe around them with sparkling ease. Whether he will actually stay, it remains to be seen – if he does leave, however, the compensation money should be huge. Regardless, Hoilett is a player worth keeping, and it is important that Blackburn do all they can to make sure that happens.
Hours of work, and what did I find? Blackburn, that’s Steve Kean’s Blackburn, had won my imaginary Championship.
It is, perhaps, Rovers’ new signings that seem most impressive, however. Leon Best is a proven Championship goal-scorer, netting 10 goals at the beginning of the 2009/10 season for Coventry, before being transferred to Newcastle in January 2010. (Going off Wikipedia now, so this could be horrendously wrong, but appears correct…).
He then scored a further 10 goals for Newcastle in two Premier League seasons, despite being hampered (to say the least – ‘mutilated’ may be more accurate) by injury throughout his time at St. James’ Park. Should Best play 40 games or more this season, I would back him to get upwards of 20 goals, an absolutely compulsory requirement for any side wishing to claw themselves out of the Championship.
Danny Murphy, also, appears to be a very impressive acquisition for the Ewood Park club. He clearly has playing experience in abundance, being 35 years of age, but also enjoys leadership skills that will prove critical to Blackburn’s chances of success next season. In terms of technical ability, it doesn’t seem to be waning either, with Murphy making five assists and scoring two goals last season alone.
He also started 33 out of 38 games for Fulham in the Premier League in 2011/12. This signing is as much of a coup for Blackburn as it is a loss for the Cottagers. One can only hope his top-flight form passes over into the second tier. There’s always a chance Murphy could flop, but he doesn’t seem like a player looking for one last big pay cheque – there’s plenty of life there yet.
Danny Murphy, also, appears to be a very impressive acquisition for the Ewood Park club
Finally, there’s Rovers Portuguese duo – Nuno Gomes, of whom we know very much, and Fabio Nunes, of whom we know very little. I can say with some conviction now that Gomes will flop. The 36 year-old does, truly, look like a man desperate for one last big payout, despite what he was reportedly offered elsewhere. Of all the managers in all the world, it surprises me very little that Steve Kean was the one to offer him that payout. But Gomes won’t adapt to the English game quickly enough – he probably won’t be motivated enough – and, as such, he probably won’t score enough either.
Nunes seems to be something of an enigma, no matter what combination of words including the vital name ‘Fabio Nunes’ one may type into Google. The faithful search engine has delivered some results though; he’s represented Portugal at Under 18, Under 19 and Under 20 level, and was signed from Portimonense. We’ll just have to wait and see what he produces though – it could just make up for Gomes’ shortcomings.
Steve Kean, with the spending power that only the possession of the world’s chickens can bring, will undoubtedly sign more players this summer, but perhaps unbelievably, Blackburn’s greatest asset over the coming season may actually be Kean himself. He is growing as a manager and, although he did ultimately fail, has already shown terrific character after last season’s struggles.
He appears to be Venky's little protégé, a man the owners are not willing to give up on until he is the globe’s greatest manager, and, if he can both learn from his mistakes and create a real siege mentality in his already strong squad, then, you never know, Blackburn may well win the league…
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