What Blackburn Rovers Must Do In The Off-Season

Ollie Irish

21st, May 2010


By Chris McQuade

The NelsenSambanator BR1000 – it will not stop

In the end, Blackburn Rovers enjoyed a successful season – survival was their primary aim. They achieved this (and more) as they were never dragged into a relegation scrap alongside the likes of West Ham and Wigan. Though a European place was never in reach and their early exit from the FA Cup a disappointment, Blackburn’s highlight of the season was their performance in the League Cup, where they defeated Chelsea and too part in a ten-goal thriller at Villa Park. A league double over bitter rivals Burnley also gave the fans good reason to cheer.

The bullet points:

• Ewood Park was a tough place to visit in the League, with only three teams leaving with all three points
• Like Birmingham, Blackburn’s success was built from the back, with Ryan Nelsen and Chris Samba the team’s twin towers
• Scoring was the big problem for Rovers. No player reached double digits in the league

Goalkeepers: The once unreliable Paul Robinson improved his consistency over the course of the season. Bar a few mistakes (for instance the very late lapse in concentration in the League Cup against Chelsea) he has regained his mojo and was perhaps unlucky not to make England’s provisional World Cup squad. Jason Brown continues to serve as a reliable back-up. Blackburn do not need to strengthen between the posts this summer.

Defence: Blackburn’s strong home record was built upon a reliable defence. The central pairing of Samba and Nelson provided extremely powerful and committed play on both the ground and in the air. Gael Givet made the left side his own with some dynamic performances throughout the season. The right side was more problematic with several players filling that role over the course of the season. As such Sam Allardyce will need to recruit a player who can fill the role consistently. Luke Young will be available from Aston Villa but does not quite fit into the physical template of Blackburn’s defence. A more appropriate addition would be Tottenham’s out-of-favour Alan Hutton. Sam often has a continental view in his transfer policy so you know he will keep an eye on strong, tall defenders at the World Cup this summer.

Man City winger Martin Petrov, seemingly unwanted at Eastlands, would be an excellent addition to Rovers’ squad

Midfield: Blackburn are well stocked in midfield with some good young players. The arrival of Steven N’Zonzi has been a big success as his tireless work – and the odd wonder strike – have endeared him to Rovers fans. The creativity and goals of a revitalised David Dunn (especially in the first half of the campaign) were much appreciated too; however, concerns linger over his fitness. Blackburn have still not properly replaced David Bentley. El Hadji Diouf and Morten Gamst Pedersen had poor seasons. One option for Big Sam would be to continue his good relations with Chelsea and take the highly rated Miroslav Stoch (who just won the Eredivisie with FC Twente) on board for some Premier League experience. With Stephen Reid departing, Allardyce may look to the free-agent market to help strengthen his midfield. Australia international Mark Bresciano is still only 30 and would be a good addition, whilst Man City’s Martin Petrov would also be a welcome addition out wide.

Forwards: Niko Kalinic has not yet adapted to the Premier League and Franco Di Santo looked out of his depth. If Blackburn wish to move up the table they need to add a proven goal scorer to their squad. Robbie Keane would meet these expectations – his scoring record in the Premier League is good and given his current status in the Tottenham pecking order he would be willing to move for first-team football. Failing this, a move for Lille’s Robert Vittek might be a cheaper option than Keane.

Sam Allardyce has proven that both he and Blackburn are Premier League stalwarts. If they can build on this season’s solid home form and take more risks away from Ewood Park, a top-seven finish next season is possible, if unlikely.

Signing of the Season: Steven N’Zonzi
Flop of the Season: Nikola Kalinic

Posted in Blackburn Rovers

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  1. mcflash says:

    I hate guesswork and thats what this is, you get some stuff right but a huge amount wrong. Firstly Michel Salgado was very impressive in the second half of the season at right back, probably even our best player over the last 15 games.

    We also have Lars Jacobsen there who got injured and didn’t really get back in contention. Brett Emerton is also a good backup for that position. The likleyhood is that we sell a right back in the summer not buy one, Pascal Chimbonda or Lars Jacobsen will be on their way.

    You mention the ‘odd wonderstrike’ in your assessment of Steven N’Zonzi, he scored one wonder goal this season out of his two goals. Thats right two goals.
    You go on to say that both Diouf and Pedersen had poor seasons.
    Pedersen moved to the centre of midfield halfway through the season and really impressed.
    Diouf had his problems but his appearances in the latter part of the season were very good. You don’t even mention Martin Olsson who has been a revelation this season.
    Niko Kalinic got to grips with the Premier League but he is playing a holdup role so its unlikely that he will score many goals, he still managed to nab a couple and had two definite legal goals disallowed.
    You are right that we need a goalscorer up front, thats fairly obvious.
    Also you don’t mention Phil Jones who played towards the end of the season and displaced Nelsen. We are unsure at this stage whether or not Jones will be starting next season but Chris Samba now has the armband so that has to be considered likely to happen.

    Finally Jason Brown is likely to leave this summer, we also have Mark Bunn who impressed in over 30 starts for Sheffield United last season, he is certainly at least competing for the backup role.

    We don’t need a midfielder or a winger, they would just be luxury additions, up front is the only area of major concern.

  2. B Maurer says:

    Well said for the most part but I dont think its fair to say that Diouf and Pedersen had bad seasons, inconsistent yes, but not bad. Kalinic put in good performances in the cup games but is still young and adapting to life in the premier league. The break out seasons of youngsters Martin Olsson and Phil Jones aren’t mentioned. We do desperately need a quality striker though, that much you are right about.

  3. j saker says:

    martin ollsen is useless you cannot put him and phil jones in the same sentance phil jones in the last part of the season was an absolute superstar

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