Sasman's Wrap of 2009/2010
A season of change indeed it was. Many will look back at the 2009/2010 season and provide a different view. Some might say we over achieved, some might say we under achieved. The sheer facts are, equal 9th spot (10th on Goal Difference) in the English Premier League, and almost a cup final appearance. I dont think any Rover would have rejected that if offered it at the start of the season.
The pre-season started off in rocky fashion. Or should we say Roque fashion... The Paraguayan International finally got his long awaited transfer, of to Manchester City for a reported 20 million pounds. Brilliant, cash in the coffers for Rovers...Personally, i think Mark Hughes paid over the top intentionally, a thank you gift to Blackburn...but thats for another day. The pre-season was also the first in many that the Maestro, Tugay, would not be involved in. Matt Derbyshire moved on to Greece, whilst Steven Warnock clinched a late transfer to Aston Villa. Several players went out on loan, with Zurab being the most significant.
As for the ins, well, Gael Givet made his loan signing permanent, Lars Jacobsen and Pascal Chimbonda were brought in, whilst Franco Di Santo signed on loan from Chelsea. Heads turned when Sam payed an initial 6 million pounds for Nikola Kalinic, whilst the signing of unknown FC Amiens Midfielder Steve Nzonzi went under the radar. Sam also raided FC Malmo, signing two youth Swedes to go straight into the academy. After ending any further signing rumours, Sam managed to sway the board to sign ex Galactico, Michel Salgado, on a free transfer, but with a reported wage of 45k per week....
Several players were offered the opportunity to sign with Rovers, one Christian Vieri came on a trial, and was shipped back ASAP, whilst Rovers could not agree any terms with RVN. Junior Hoillet was finally given a work permit, as the young Canadian looked to establish himself in the Rovers outfit after several loan stints.
A slow start to the season had the faithful worried. After an indifferent run of results, Blackburn were languishing points above the drop zone. However, there were a few shining lights...
The emergence of Martin Olsson as an allround footballer! After several poor performances in previous seasons, many had written the young Swede off, however, boy he showed his talents. Pace, a wicked cross, great on the counter, and an improvement in his defence found him holding the left flank. As for his predecessor, well Gamst got of slow as always...
The Derby against the dingles sent Ewood Park rocking. A first goal for Franco Di Santo, a superb goal by Pascal Chimbonda, and a sublime finish by the King of Lancashire David Dunn, ensured the blue and white half of Lancashire held bragging rights until the return leg.
As for the King of Lancashire, well, the chant said it all....Dunnnnnyyy for England... Sure, optimism at its best, but Dunn was the shining light, creating, finishing and a perfect example.
Aside from that, the league continued to drag on, with the odd victory hiding what initially was a poor start. A superb Cup run also managed to divert the attention from the League, with Rovers overcoming Chelsea to book a spot against Aston Villa in the Semi-Final.
And so January came, a month that caused huge debate for Rovers fans.
Firstly, the tactics deployed by Sam in the home leg of the Cup Semi. Sam deployed a 4-5-1 formation, and Rovers just couldnt get a goal, on the back foot, 0-1, with an away goal. Many were livid, many just backed Sam.
Benni McCarthy. The South African wanted out, and showed it by skipping training. Sam was furious, and after weeks of rumours, the 32 year old was signed by West Ham. Love him or loathe him, the Benni McCarthy era at Blackburn was over, though he will always be remembered for his initial 20+ goal season, plus his cracking winner against Arsenal in the cup.
And the other point of debate, McCarthy out, nobody in! So Rovers continued with Franco Di Santo, Nikola Kalinic and Jason Roberts, by far not the deadliest strike force....
An entertaining return leg against Villa, 6-4 loss, was sandwhiched inbetween two league victories, so the lack of a genuine goal scorer had little effect. Sam maintained his 4-5-1 formation, however, things were starting to change. Right and Left midfielders became Right and Left Attacking Wingers, David Dunn returned from injury, and a gentleman by the name of Steve Nzonzi was putting in performance after performance.
So a superb run of results followed, without much intervention from our strikers, leading us to think, imagine if our strikers took their chances. Wins against Hull, Bolton, Birmingham and a return victory against the Dingles pushed Rovers well clear of the drop zone. Blackburn also stood up at home, denting the title hopes in succesive weeks of Chelsea, followed by Manchester United. Heads started to turn, and even yours truly sent an open apology to Sam Allardyce.
Blackburn were playing football. Morten Gamst re invented himself as a central midfielder, whilst Mr Injury, Vince Grella, started to last 90 minutes. Junior Hoillet and David Dunn signed new contracts whilst Gamst Pedersen was linked to every club under the earth.
Another superstar emerged. Phil Jones. A name to remember. The young Englishman managed to hold out the likes of Drogba, Anelka and Berbatov, no easy feet, and Sam, immediately, locked him up for another 5 years.
And so May came around. Ryan Nelsen, Brett Emerton and Vince Grella were called up to their national squads, with Lars Jacobsen alost a certainity to also go to South Africa.
Leaving the best til last is often an overused Cliche, however, if there was a time to use it, this was it. Arsenal visited Fortress Ewood. Arsenal left fortress Ewood empty handed. Goals to David Dunn and Chris Samba left Arsenal goal keeper Fabianski red faced, Manager Arsene Wenger whinging, and Sam Allardyce gloating. The result was not the only impressive thing, the fact that if we did have a clinical striker, we could of got 4 or 5 goals, was a sign that Rovers, can play football.
But, playing football did not always have to be pretty, and Rovers, well, we are a bit more familiar with the smash and grab. And we managed to do that against Villa, pinching a late winner to round of the season, and earning the Sas a nice bit of cash..
So 10th spot it was, but what can we take out of the season
1) The emergence of the future- Hoillet, Jones, Kalinic, Nzonzi, Olsson and Hanley. Superstars in the making. If this 6 are round over the next few years, then watch out
2)David Dunn-Imagine Dunn playing 38 games, with Nzonzi and Grella tucked in behind him....wow!
3)The Academy- Keep them coming!!!
4)The Books- We dont have to sell to stay afloat, well done to the whole board, and Sam Allardyce
asman's Player of the Season
Going out on a limb here- Chris Samba. A superb season by the big man, guiding the likes of Jones and Olsson, whilst also pinching a few important goals
Sasman's Most Improved
Martin Olsson- Nobody in world football can improve to the degree that this lad has. Keep it up!
Sasman's Howler of the season
Jason Roberts, Nikola Kalinic, Franco Di Santo's attempts at being a striker. Ok, a touch harsh, effort gets 10 out of 10, but finishing, 1.3 out of 10, and thats on a good day
Next Season- We need a striker. Our defence is set, our midfield probably needs 1 new face, but we definately need a striker, someone who knows how to find the net...
And so thats it from the Sas, looking forward to a fantastic off season, a superb World Cup, and a new signing or 2!
Thanks to Walker, Mikey Delap and Bombom for all the work put into the site and to all the VBERS for being there to abuse and argue with me about how Grella and McCarthy lollllll. May this forever continue!!!!
All the Best
The Man. Full Stop.