Surprisingly Blackburn line-up against Cardiff tonight in the Quarter-Final of the Carling Cup. Anyone looking at this who hasn’t glanced at the Premier League table for a while would be excused for thinking that this achievement by Blackburn would suggest that they are not having too bad a season…obviously you would then have to take off your glove and slap that person round the face, telling that person they are completely wrong and Blackburn are team hideous this season.
It has been a tough time for Steve Kean since he took over the Lancashire club under not ideal circumstances. Sam Allardyce left whilst doing a good job, despite playing a brand of unattractive football, Big Sam had managed to find a formula that suited the personnel at the club and bought in results. His departure was met with mixed reviews by the Blackburn faithful, some were sick of the football, whilst others thought that he did not deserve to go and the team were on the up.
So in stepped the unknown Steve Kean, much too many people’s dismay, after some big names were linked with the hot-seat. For a first job, they don’t come much harder than Blackburn…I mean you are managing one of only 4 sides who have ever won the Premier League title, inheriting a squad lacking depth and quality, under a set of new owners who have no football pedigree and have only conducted business from a company based in India.
The Venky’s purchase of the club initial gave a new wave of hope to Blackburn fans that financially the team and manager would be backed. The Rao family (Venky’s) are hardly the glamorous Russian oligarch or the American Billionaire owners that fans would have wanted to see…but who cares if they have the cash.
Are they willing to invest the cash? So far minimal amounts have been spent on average players. In January this year Steve Kean bought in unknown duo Rochina and Formica. Over the summer Kean bought in David Goodwillie, Radosav Petrovic, Bruno Riberio, Simon Vukcevic, Yakubu, Myles Anderson and Scott Dann.
Out of that little lot only Rochina and Yakubu have been regulars who have performed for the side. Formica has been hit and miss, whilst Scott Dann hasn’t made the impact he would have hoped and has struggled with injuries. So far Goodwillie, Vukcevic and Petrovic have been bit-part players for Blackburn, Bruno Riberio hasn’t played and Myles Anderson has made one sub appearance, but is one for the future.
If you look around the Blackburn team it is lacking quality. Many faces remain at the club who haven’t really been doing it for the past couple of seasons. The classic example for me is Morten Gamst Pedersen, who was close to signing for Galatasaray in the summer, despite it not really being reported. Pedersen was once a player on the radar of many Premier League clubs, but since contracting ‘Harry Kewell syndrome’ he is just another player at Blackburn who seems to do very little other than long-throws and the occasional good set-piece delivery.
The Samba / Dann partnership on paper looks good, so far Dann has struggled and both have had injuries. When Samba has played he has no doubt been one of the star men along with Paul Robinson and also Yakubu. Rochina has looked ok in places, as has Hoilett, but they aren’t turning in performances week in, week out. The best way to assess the quality of the Blackburn side is by asking yourself how many players would walk straight in to any half-decent Premier League side? Samba is the only player who would.
January will be a telling time for Blackburn Rovers. If Steve Kean is allowed to spend come January then his signings will be under the microscope. He will need to sign quality players that can come in and keep them in the Premier League this season; it’s no good building for a future that may change come May. He should be signing English based players who can quickly adapt and needs to make sure the spine of that team is strong.
That is if Kean gets the money of course. If his job is under threat and the Venky’s are seriously considering admitting they were wrong and getting rid of Kean, then they won’t want to spend much in January. So far most of Kean’s signings look like the types that will do nothing and end up leaving for some obscure or rubbish team in a couple of seasons after they have enjoyed the decent wages and a warm bench for a while.
Unfortunately for Kean and the Blackburn fans, the team need to go back to basics, pack the midfield and just try and be hard to beat. What is the point trying to play exciting passing football when you don’t have the personnel? Making a partnership out of Dann and Samba is a must, finding a top-quality centre midfielder is essential, as is signing a quality striker.
I have nothing against Kean and do feel a little bit sorry for him, but I just can’t see him getting it right unless he changes his philosophy, packs the midfield and plays some ugly football. Possibly more so than Kean, the Venky’s need to stop appearing at the club ad-hoc, looking like Indian pirates, and be more visible around the club and start speaking to fans instead of letting Kean take the brunt of the fans discontent.
Kean is the only one who has control of his players on the pitch, but ultimately it is the players that need to sort it out and up their game. Kean needs to make sure his team selection is right, but he has done himself no favours with his summer recruits. He needs to shift a lot of players in January like Salgado, who although brings experience, is clearly past it. Three quality players need to come in, but Kean has an uphill battle to convince anyone half decent to sign for a club bottom of the league.
We can only speculate about the future of Blackburn, it is a pity to see a club of such stature in this position, the onetime Premier League champions are now fighting for survival and whoever is in charge, I feel it is a battle the club will lose.