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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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The Journalist

Writer: Roversman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday May 31 2009

Time: 4:49PM

Your Comments

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"
redstarman
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.
roverjoy
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
scottrover
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.
Vinjay
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
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.
roversman
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.
Vinjay
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
glen9mullan
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
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...
Sindbad
Hmm... I'm not really sure I can do this post justice in such a small space. However, I'll try to get to the heart of my concerns.....In short, I share many Roversman’s sentiments. Midfield this season has been a shambles. Just a look over the teamsheet in some of our fixtures was enough to give many Rovers fans heart attacks before kick-off. Players such as Olsson, Mokoena and Andrews are not fit for the premier league (except as cover and certainly not all together). MGP is a shadow of the player he once was, as was Dunn when he finally returned from injury towards the end of the campaign. The Axe has gone. Good. But we should be asking ourselves if some of the others should follow. Tugay too had to go too. His legs just couldn’t go on forever even if he could still pass better than anyone else in the premiership. MGP has a real point to prove to Sam, as does Reid and Dunn. Grella has yet to prove with any consistency that he is the man to bridge the gap between attack and defence, and I think most of us would rather see Warnock bombing down the left-side in support of whoever props up the left flank..... Also, who will come in. If Big Sam decides to play football like last season, then we may see wingers abandoned in favour of a 4-3-3 (or 4-3-2-1 as it seems to be called now) with Jason Roberts in the centre and Diouf on the right. Who comes in on the left will probably depend on whether Sam feels MGP has done enough to remain a Rover (personally I think he has had countless chances to shape up and hasn’t taken any of them)….. Alternatively, Big Sam might be keener to prove that he can play another way. Blackburn have proffered in the past by keeping it simple. 2 good wingers and decent strikers who can get on the end of it and claim all the glory (yes I'm talking about you RSC and McCarthy), Big Sam might opt to follow this model too. David Bentley may be a figure of hate these days, but this season we missed no player more than him. Emerton showed glimpses of class early on, but neither he, or new man Diouf, offer the same quality and consistency of cross as our former winger. Plus, Emerton in midfield robs the team of our attacking threat from the right-back position. Ooijer has gone – and that was probably the right move for both parties – the result is we need to buy either a fast defender, or a proper winger allowing Emerton to drop back into the position he played 2 years ago. In this system we'd need a new right-sided player and a new striker or two, risky business on limited funds, but Big Sam has a good reputation for spotting a bargain and I have faith that he is up to the task........ Those talking about a buyout are deluding themselves. We haven't the fans to warrant it (unless Jack Straw or Condie Rice fancy rounding up some cash!). Don't kid yourself, we're in for a hard fight next season, this is the most important summer we’ve faced for years…. In Sam we trust.
Money4midfield
in retrospect. That wasn't that short!
Money4midfield
Great article. Were only in decline if we sell everything good and buy cheap in hope. This would mean selling the likes of Samba and Warnock. stupid, stupid ideas at best. As has been suggested, the likes of Dunn, Reid and McCarthy should be the ones shown the door. Out with the injured and ageing, in with a new era at Ewood
retroflair31
there're so many uncertainties right now, but if we can find a quality right back replacement and keeping the rest of our core defenders, we should be solid at the back. i am also not too concern with our frontline. i'd be content to have all the strikers stay for next season (including derb and RSC, if he's committed). if anyone of them leaves, it sounds like we have some decent strikers lined up to replace them. our midfield is the concern. as many mentioned, we lacked pace, creativity. with tugay gone, we will lose his organization and poise. the key to next season is to find players that can organize and spark up the midfield. given blackburn will continue to be led by john williams, i have faith that we are not in decline. we should finish at least mid-table. whether we make take it to the next level is another matter.
dominator2800
Our biggest problem is that we're not investable!! 3 years up for sale proves we're Not!! And with recent takeovers at Pompey & Sunderland, it's going to get increasingly difficult for us to compete in this league. The only positive that I can see in all this is Sam Allardyce and there's nobody I'd trust more to keep this club floating on a such a shoestring budget than the Big man. That said.. the future is hardly bright is it!!
spinaker
I think we are in transition. A squad largely put together by Mark Hughes, changed by Paul Ince in his short tenure and taken over by Big Sam to rescue the club from relegation. We need to give Sam a chance to build his team and get a good pre-season build up (Something that didn't happen last season due to managerial changes). The question is whether some players have now been at Rovers too long? Is Ewood too comfortable? Can big Sam motivate these players to show their true potential once more? With a lack of mega funds, Rovers need to look to a healthy return from the Academy and young players forcing their way into the 1st team - hopefully this might be more in evidence next season - I haven't seen any outstanding stars in the making yet - except of course Matt Derbyshire who evidently made the grade in Greece. Rovers may have to lose some players to bring in new blood but remember - for all that they were fighting relegation this season, they were not that far behind the likes of Fulham, Wigan, City and Spurs who were fighting for the last Europa spot - a few more wins (which could have happened) and Rovers could have turned near disater into triumph! Just think that last years points tally would have secured European football! A few points more and it would have been a top half finish - it is not beyond Rovers to achieve this.
YORK ROVER
We will always be in transition. Rarely have we been able to stand still but we do will with what we have got and for that we an be proud. flipping heck money!?! That was never short!!! lol
Mikey D
not short at all money, but some valid points! York rover, have you completely missed aaron doran coming through? that lad looks like a bright spark, nippy good feet, cracking finisher, and hes got the right man to guide him through into the first team in Big Sam!
Blue n Whitey
I agree with York as well that Rovers were the wrong side of a very thin line between sucess and failure in terms of league position. With the right signings this summer we can make progress, but we need virtually everybody fit.
Mikey D
On the up, look at the season under BFS, if we can recreate that Top 10 easy, my prediction will be between 9 - 12. We need to sell players not dedicated to the club, e.g. GOOD BYE ROQUE. And ensure we keep players who have Blackburn in their hearts e.g WELCOME BACK MATTY!
marsmanic
Marsmanic - you are now in charge of club banners....
Mikey D
in my opinion Rovers are still a well run club in the constriants that every club finds itself in at the min, those outside the elite top 4 that is aside, so we cant attract the "big" names that we did in the past but who cares, we are still attracting international players of a good calibre and hopefully next season we will play decent football under Big Sam - we are coming off the back of a ****ing disastrous season and this is why there may be some doom and gloom surrounding Rovers, but we have to keep in mind that yeah we need to re-build but so do half the other clubs in the league, when u look at Portsmouth for instance, they have spent millions more than us and had an even worse season... Sam has the guile to spend wisely, he had a bit of a mare at Newcastle but when u look at what he acheived at Bolton, given the time he will do the same for us, this i have no doubt of... Overall yes we are a club in transistion but its not a bad time, we have changed manager, the backroom staff has changed, new players are coming in and some dead wood leaving. fair enough we are losing Roque but then im not sure i want a player who was going no-where at a big club, we saved his career and then he thinks he can manage a bigger club again - there is no reason why we cant emulate wot Hughes did with Rovers under Sam..we have the squad that managed it practically still there and with new additions i cant see us not managing it again and on a regular basis
Clint
I think we need players that want to play for the manager and without naming names I can think of at least 3 that dont fit the criteria!
Mikey D
Roversman this is a really good article that gives us plenty to ponder dude, all we can do is wait and see what this summer brings really can't we then we'll have a better idea of things. I think we'll certainly be in transition (if not this summer, which is likely, then certainly next summer) but I'm not convinced this means it's a decline. I'll put my faith in Big Sam to get things right.
Walker
We have the right guy in charge to turn what may be percieved as decline into transition even if it means a realt struggle to halt the decline... does that make sense at all?!
Mikey D
Good article. Allardyce should be able to keep you out of another relegation dogfight, but if he's REALLY going after players like Alan Smith, I'd be a little concerned.
Samboney
Allardyce is a good coach. You guys can rest in peace.
JT_daniel
Rest In Peace?!?! Are we dying? good god nobody told me!
Mikey D
 

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