Date:Tuesday May 15 2007
The 2006-2007 Premiership season concluded on Sunday, it proved a lucky 13th for Rovers, but could have been unlucky! As the dust settles our reviews start, so here is my take on the season.
We had an amazing 2005-2006 season, with a shoestring budget and only one major addition to the squad (in Craig Bellamy) we finished in sixth place. It was always going to be hard to replicate that but we must have gone into this season in good sprits, looking for another good Premiership season and extended runs in all the Cup competitions (League, FA and UEFA Cup's) we were entered into.
These were some of my thoughts in my preview of what was then the coming campaign, published on the eve of the season's opener with Portsmouth:
"Anything less than a top half finish will be a failure for the club, a top 10 place though not assured will surely happen, although I still feel the top 6 has to be the target, and will indeed be achieved. We would hope for, and probably even expect Quarter Final places at least in the FA and League Cups with the group stages of the UEFA Cup the minimum the club should settle for. Progress through the groups of the UEFA Cup into the two legged knockout games and anything would be possible.
Although the league is the priority, again I stress top six consolidation important, returning Rovers to their rightful status the main aim, the cup competitions will give Rovers more than a good chance of winning only their third piece of major silverware (after the 1994/1995 Premiership and 2002 League Cup) since the old Division Three Championship (current League One) more than 30 years ago, in the 1974/1975 season."
Right, so we didn't achieve the top six consolidation that I had hoped for, and even thought could be achieved. Maybe this was more out of hope than expectation? But CAN still happen in the future!
The loss of Bellamy was a blow but the arrivals of Francis Jeffers, Jason Roberts, Benni McCarthy and latterly Shabani Nonda, not to mention the emergence of Matt Derbyshire more than filled me with confidence we could, and would cope. Not all have delivered as we would have hoped for but most have still shown more than enough to suggest they have plenty to offer next season. Have we missed Bellamy, for me not at all…
Injuries can't be used as an excuse, but when you lose key members of your first team such as Andre Ooijer, Ryan Nelsen, Steven Reid, Robbie Savage and Jason Roberts for so much of the season, in some cases virtually all of it, when you only have a small squad as it is to counter this is difficult, but the true character, spirit and quality of this side has shone through. Injuries of course gave people like Matt Derbyshire and the signing of the January transfer window for me (for ANY side!) Christopher Samba their chances, and they took them with both hands.
My early thoughts that missing out on a UEFA Cup spot (when it looked liked we might?) would ultimately see an unsuccessful season were maybe more than a little harsh as with little money spent and injuries to contend with an FA Cup Semi Final appearance, making it into the last 32 of the UEFA Cup, our best EVER European showing and obtaining a top ten finish as was the minimum all make for another fine season don't they. As it happens we are in with a great chance of Europe again next season anyway having made it into the Intertoto Cup! Can we complain too much? I say no especially as the quality gap between fifth down quite far, stretching almost down to the lowest reaches of this League are minimal.
Players have stepped in when called upon, and on the whole stepped up to the plate and delivered. Others have proved they have what it takes when maybe they were doubted. ALL teams have to deal with injuries but without so many injuries to key personnel, and undoubted first team starters let alone squad members, have hampered us, but we've had a fine season and the future looks VERY bright for Blackburn Rovers Football Club, provided of course that we keep most (if not all) of our best players and can bring in some other Sparky bargains!
THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN, I want your views now! You can leave your thoughts below but ideally I would love for you to share your thoughts in detail either within the forum or by writing and submitting something for publication (do this by clicking on the article submission link or the email the editor envelope link.)
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Date:Tuesday May 15 2007
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