Despite rumours of vast wealth, Blackburn Rovers have three objectives; sign some players, keep Samba and avoid relegation...
Pre season: Good, bad or ugly?
On the pitch it’s been fair to middling for Blackburn Rovers. A narrow 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa in the Barclays Asia trophy and a 4-1 win over Kilmarnock were our most significant outings. Reports from both matches indicate we played well but there was definitely room for improvement. Off the pitch it’s been ugly. Pug ugly. The Phil Jones incident was resolved quickly and to everyone’s satisfaction - almost - but the Samba saga rumbles on with no end in sight. Then there’s the issue of the owners. More on them later!
Hopes for the season:
I’m a realist not a fantasist. Mid table security and a good cup run would be perfect. I would love it if Blackburn Rovers won the FA Cup, love it. Having seen us win the Premier League and League Cup to have the set would be amazing. I would take an FA Cup win over Champions League qualification any day. Keeping hold of our best players and seeing the youngsters shine is also a big hope for the season.
Fears for the season:
Where to begin? We lose Samba. We don’t sign a replacement. Roberts gets injured and we have to rely on Goodwillie to score goals. A very good player, I am sure he will succeed at Blackburn but he needs time to settle in get up to speed in the Premier League.
My biggest fear however is the new owners. The Rao family have massive ups and downs when it comes to Rovers. One minute they’re enthused and talking about bringing in players like Cisse, Vucinic and Raul and finishing top six. The next they’re disgruntled by the amounts you have to pay agents, the way the banks behave, the inflated salaries of footballers and are distancing themselves from the club.
To be fair to Venky’s they are inexperienced in the nuances of English football and we all know football isn’t as clear-cut as business.
Absolute bare minimum you’ll accept:
Just like exactly 70% of Premier League teams the bare minimum Rovers must achieve is avoiding relegation. For everyone apart from Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal and Tottenham there is the very real possibility that a drop down to the championship is on the cards. Even with parachute payments that’s a long, long way down.
For a club like Rovers getting back would be a real task considering the teams that are already lurking in the league below. If we went down it would be very, very difficult for us to get back.
We are the only club who by LAW can stick our club badge on our corner flags. Back in the 1880s we won the FA Cup three times in a row so the FA gave us the privilege of being the only club that could put our badge on the flags
Fixture you’re most looking forward to?
Living in London and being a new parent means I can’t get to Ewood Park as often as I would like so it has to be Fulham at Craven Cottage. It’s a nice ground, friendly atmosphere and a win is more likely there than at Stamford Bridge, The Emirates or White Hart Lane !
Got the right manager?
I don’t know. I just don’t know. I really don’t know. The circumstances surrounding Steve Kean’s appointment and continued employment are shrouded in mystery and myth. Our new owners, Venky’s, got rid of Big Sam not long after buying the club with rumours circulating that Maradona and Ronaldinho were on the way. Then Kean was given the job with our owners going on the record to say that he has a two year contract and will be in charge for that period, no matter what. It may not be as exciting as Maradona but I applauded this stance. What EPL clubs like Rovers need is stability. Then there are rumours linking Mark Hughes with a return.
One thing is certain though. Under Kean we’re playing more attractive football than under Allardyce. It may not be the most effective but it is prettier to watch. Kean stuck to these principles at the end of last season when things started getting sticky so it looks like he will continue this season as well. If he’s still in charge that is! Whether or not fans will stick by him is another matter. A long ball 1-0 win is preferable to a swashbuckling 3-3 draw when you are battling to survive, isn’t it?
By Christmas you’ll be…
Four months older and deeper in debt. Blackburn Rovers should be mid table with people beginning to recognise that we are not a long ball team of thugs. We do play some decent football.
Player you’d most like to sign?
Lionel Messi. Having him grace the Ewood Park turf would be memorable. If I am to return to the real world what we really need is a striker and creative midfielder. I’d take Lukaku and Benayoun from Chelsea on loan if they would let us have them.
Which player should we look out for?
I’m not going to limit this to one player but three, and for very different reasons. Grant Hanley can fill the Jones shaped void in our defence. 20 and already capped by Scotland at full international level - OK that’s not that big a deal – Hanley has shown what an accomplished defender he is, and what a star he could become.
Ruben Rochina arrived from Barcelona towards the end of last season with a reputation and promise. He is starting to find his feet but if he fulfils his potential he will be a star in the Premier League.
And finally, Junior Hoillett. David was a regular last season and did very, very well. He’s fast and tricky and causes all kinds of problems. The big clubs are already sniffing around.
Which player would you love to ditch?
This is with no disrespect to them and what they have done for Rovers but for all concerned it would be best if they left. El Hadj Diouf, Vince Grella and Keith Andrews.
Opposition hate figure?
Seeing as there are no ex-Burnley players doing anything of note in the Premier League I am going to say Mario Balotelli. Purely for the fact that he has so much talent and yet chooses to torpedo his own career
Wenger would be a left field choice but I just don’t like the way he thinks that the way Arsenal play should be protected. It’s a contact sport and let’s face it Fabregas, Van Persie and Wilshere aren’t adverse to strong tackles now are they?
Tell us something we don’t know about your club?
We are the only club who by LAW can stick our club badge on our corner flags. Back in the 1880s we won the FA Cup three times in a row so the FA gave us the privilege of being the only club that could put our badge on the flags. Ignoring tradition as they usually do Manchester United have now started sticking their crest on their flag. Law breaking heathens!
What won’t happen this season?
We qualify for the Champions league and Steve Kean is awarded the freedom of the city.
If we sign Sol Bamba and Chris Samba stays whatever we come up with for those two will be my favourite chant. It has to have a Latin feel with Bamba Samba at the back!
Where will you finish?
Any other news?
We were also top of the entertainment league last year with our games being rated as the most exciting.
Click here to follow Colin on Twitter
Click here for more Blackburn Rovers stories
Click here for more Football and Sport stories
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook