As the Venky’s steam train pulled into Blackburn station late last November, Rovers fans could have been forgiven for imaginative thinking. Perhaps Rovers were to be the new Manchester City. Hugely ambitious, Sam Allardyce was shown the boot; cries of “top four” were bandied about, a real buzz of anticipation surrounded Ewood Park.
Such optimism was almost immediately replaced with a bemusing managerial appointment in the shape of an inexperienced Steve Kean, and a policy of applying pressure on the manager by “bigging up” the teams prospects. Indeed from the time the new Rovers owner Anuradha Desai first opened his mouth alarm bells should have been ringing “I don’t know a thing about football” and “We want good football and Blackburn to be fourth or fifth in the league or even better”. Such statements coupled with a distinct level of inactivity in the transfer market won’t have curried much favour with the Rover’s faithful. Sufficed to say the only way is down for Blackburn this season.
The arrival of David Goodwillie from Dundee United for the sum of £2.8 million has not been a source of much comfort. With 29 goals in 117 games in the SPL Goodwillie will almost certainly find it difficult to adapt to the helter skelter of the Premier League. The loss of young stalwart Phil Jones to Manchester United for £16 million will prove as damaging as the failure to re-invest the money.
Blackburn’s season however almost certainly rests on their ability to hold onto their commanding Congolese central defender Christopher Samba. Samba has been one of the most consistent defenders in the league in recent seasons and if reports of an £8 million switch to Arsenal become reality Blackburn may struggle to avoid another relegation dogfight.
There are some positives for Blackburn this season. Young Canadian striker David Hoilett demonstrated a turn of pace and some genuine ability towards the back end of last season whilst midfielder Mauro Formica is considered a real prospect. With the likes of Morten Gamst Pedersen, David Dunn and an up and coming Croatian International Nikola Kalinic, there is real quality in some areas.
Ultimately such quality will not appease the ridiculous demands of the Venkys group. A season of nail biting and much soul searching awaits the Ewood Park faithful; let’s hope for Kean’s sake he gets it right early.