Saturday, May 24, 2008

The off-season: Blackburn Rovers

It's hard to image ten years ago Blackburn Rovers were the Chelsea equivalent, bank-rolled by a wealthy tycoon and winning the league. Nowadays they have limited funds and a small fanbase. Nonetheless their achievements in recent years do match their single title all those years ago. Mark Hughes has done a fantastic job at the Lancashire club, unearthing great players and getting Blackburn to challenge for UEFA Cup places. A good European jaunt and a solid seventh finish should be considered a good season. What Blackburn will find difficult to do is keeping hold of Hughes and their star players, with bigger clubs sniffing around.

GK: Brad Friedel, Jason Brown

With Peter Enckelman leaving after this contract expired, Brown will be putting pressure on Friedel for that number one spot. I don't think Rovers require another goalkeeper, with no European campaign this year.

RB: Brett Emerton, Steven Reid

Mark Hughes seems content to play two midfielders in this position. I think he should be investing in a right-back but I think he has more pressing areas.

LB: Stephen Warnock

With Bruno Berner going, I'm thinking Martin Olsson will be back up Warnock in this position.

CB: Ryan Nelsen, Andre Ooijer, Christopher Samba, Zurab Khizanishvili

The strongest area for Blackburn Rovers, even with Stephane Henchoz leaving. No need to buy players here, except if anyone leaves.

WG: David Bentley, Morten Gamst Pedersen

The most vital area where Hughes should be bolstering. With Bentley courted by the Big Four and Pedersen dropping off in form, they will need back-up or maybe even replacement wingers.

CM: Tugay Kerimoglu, Johann Vogel, David Dunn, Aaron Mokoena

Another solid area for Blackburn but it wasn't so six months ago. Robbie Savage left and Blackburn weren't playing so well. Then stepped in Vogel and they were boosted, only to miss out on an European place. With Tugay staying for another year, it will be a solid midfield.

FW: Roque Santa Cruz, Benni McCarthy, Matt Derbyshire, Jason Roberts, Maceo Rigters, Paul Gallagher

A weird area for Mark Hughes, where he has too many forwards in the squad. There are certain players to keep - Santa Cruz, McCarthy, Derbyshire. Others are not so concrete - Roberts wants to go to find a regular team spot but should be kept, Rigters still has time despite hardly playing at all. I definitely should say that Paul Gallagher should leave, even though he signed a long term contract quite recently.


In: Wingers x 2

Out: Roberts, Gallagher

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