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Blackburn Rovers: Club in Transition or Decline?

Blackburn Rovers: Club in Transition or Decline?

I greeted the Sunday football transfer rumours with as much vigour as Mr. Hiddink would relish an early morning press conference, as the first utterances of a player exodus from Ewood Park surfaced.

The inevitable speculation that will no doubt surround Stephen Warnock and Chris Samba - two of our star players from the disappointing season - through out much of the summer has begun in earnest but a certain South African has also been linked with a move away.

This speculation, doubled with the departures of experienced first-team squad members Andre Ooijer and Aaron Mokoena as well as loanees Danny Simpson and Carlos Villanueva, not forgetting the loss of our maestro who - like Brad Friedel - saved us on so many occasions, suggests we could be re-building from a thread-bare foundation.

I now feel the club are a million miles from the one that consecutively punched above their weight to battle for Europe and persuade some big names to move to the modest Lancashire surroundings.

However, scrolling through the touching gallery dedicated to Tugay`s eight years at Blackburn Rovers on the club`s official website reminded me of the different era`s since promotion in 2001, which posed the question; are we about to embark on our next period of Premiership success or, in the current economic and football climate, are we at the start of the decline?

Graeme Souness enjoyed a rollercoaster time in charge of Blackburn, returning the club to the Premiership, lifting the League Cup in 2002 and qualifying for Europe with a sixth placed finish in 2004. Mark Hughes built a terrific squad after Souness`s capitulation that combined a solid foundation with attacking flair and skill but reached its peak when falling one point short of Europe in 2008 and since then things have slowly been crumbling, starting with Paul Ince`s ill-fated tenure as manager and a season long battle against relegation only saved by Sam Allardyce.

Alas, the encouraging signs here would point to the wheels falling off of the Souness era before Hughes` wisdom and craft guided us back to the Premiership top ten on a regular basis, showing us it can be achieved. The negatives though are starker than Manchester United`s failure to turn up for the Champions League final.

With so many of our established and better players linked with potential exits there could be considerable upheaval and how will we possibly replace their talents when we will surely be perceived as a selling club that cannot keep its better players.

Additionally we will be relying on finding bargains and turning them into stars for which there is a lengthy list under Hughes. Although Allardyce has a successful history of doing this it remains a gamble. Plus we can`t take for granted that there will be a healthy budget for player purchases with much made of our maligned wage bill.

What worries me the most is a possibility - a very real one I might add - that we start rebuilding our attack around Jason Roberts, a player who has just finished his most prolific season at Blackburn with the grand total of seven goals!

I don`t think people appreciate the size of the task to re-structure our midfield with only a single player good enough in my opinion - Vince Grella. Granted we have talent in abundance, or more to the point, did have in Steven Reid, David Dunn and Brett Emerton. They are long-term injury concerns and question marks must remain about their impact over a prolonged period, with the possible exception of Emerton.

Alongside that we have El-Hadji Diouf, who runs around a lot but does very little in the way of creating things and then there is the perennial underachiever, Morten Gamst Pedersen, who has the talent but has left it in 2007 (despite eight Premiership assists last season).

The defence is the only strong point, added to with the acquisition of successful loanee, Gael Givet. Alas, if this is allowed to be decimated as the turgid transfer rumour mill would have us believe, I fear for our future.

I just wonder what the consensus is amongst the good people on Vital Blackburn; is it the beginning of another era of top flight football or is the decline in motion?


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Date:Sunday May 31 2009
Time: 4:49PM

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Great article. In the "build up" we need to lose the "dead weight" i.e Steven Reid and David Dunn - im sorry to say this, but we cannot keep paying their sick bill! They need to go in the proces of reconstructing the midfield - it cannot be build around 2 of the most fragile players in the PL. We need new young players with flair in midfield - therefor it also saddens me that Carlos wasnt the player I exspected him to be - he had all the right charateristics of a great player...except speed and "volume"
31/05/2009 18:02:00
Defence was not a strong point though shown last season the talent is there but needs work t be fixed, mainly because they lacked midfield cover i think. Please don't say we are building our strikeforce around Roberts that is a terrible idea.
31/05/2009 18:07:00
i quite like roberts to be honest, i think a cruz or a crouch would be great playing with him.. fast big strong holds the ball up well. just needs to improve his shooting abilty and he will be great i missed him when he was injured
31/05/2009 18:34:00
This is a great football club which has never punched above anything. Infact it could be stated that if not for a chronic lack of investment (since our owners aren't exactly bankrupt as some seem to believe) the rewards could have been far greater. This club is for sale. That means until a takeover is finalised the club is in constant transition. A new owner will lead to new funds and new ideas. The Walkers won't be doing anything revolutionary or indeed paying any attention to the club at all. The only useful thing they have done recently is their intervention in regards to the Ince sacking. A takeover is the key. I keep repeating this because people don't seem to realise it.
31/05/2009 18:46:00
We are not in decline. We need some financial adjusmtent for sure but remember two weeks ago when Sam saying there would be change this summer BUT no exodus. I stand by that. We are not exactly flush but I believe we are stable as we are. We have a man in charge who can be the best there is on a tight budget. Happy days.... well written Roversman, awesome stuff!
Mikey D
31/05/2009 19:29:00
Glad the piece has stirred such a variety of opinions. It is going to be a very interesting summer for us. In regards to Vinjay's thoughts, I concur with the sentiments but a takeover is highly unlikely due to the poor season we have just had. Prior to the campaign there was a veritable fanfare of rumours about takeovers, all of which have disappeared. With the right owners there is potential for rovers to continue 'punching above our weight' - or more to the point - compete to our potential (top ten minimum). I can't see a takeover happening any time soon though. I hope BFS can stand by his words that there won't be an exodus as players like Stevie and Chrissy and in my opinion, Benni, will be missed.
31/05/2009 20:15:00
Portsmouth didn't have a great season. If they can secure a takeover why not Blackburn Rovers? Last season was a warning and ultimately if the Walkers remain in control next time it may be a lot worse.
31/05/2009 21:38:00
rovers have rewarde the fans with great prices for next season in fact unbelievable prices, and our transfer budget will take a mass hit because of this, i think it is time to clear out most of the playing staff and let sam use the funds to build his own team, no-one is indespensible at rovers in the current climate and the best players have already left in previous seasons, i think now is the time to build a young fresh team which can keep us up nxt season put can push on the season after with the experiance, rovers this season lacked energy and speed amongstr its players something which needs to be rectified to keep up with the fast flowing premiership
31/05/2009 22:19:00
the reason why pompey have been taken over is because pompey is a city, a city which is also the main entrance into england, or at least was by boat, its the home of the navy, and has alot to play for, blackburn however is a town, it doesnt have much riding for it regarding bringing the money in! ................................................... with regards to whether i think rovers are in decline or transition, im sure that at this moment in time we are currently in a transition phase, but in comparison to other clubs around us, this could soon be changed to decline! Lets hope someone worth while comes in and buys us up! someone decent though, oh and they have to keep john williams in too! lol..
Blue n Whitey
31/05/2009 22:44:00
Did you ever get that sinking feeling? If you didn't then you are going to learn a lot about it this season. Apart from having the Fattest Fat Sam manager, you are going to have to create a siege mentality like the ancient Spartans or it wwill be chaos. Oh heck, it'll be chaos whatever...
01/06/2009 01:11:00
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