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On the way up
Blackburn Rovers F.C.
Member Name: Carrow Road Canary
Blackburn Rovers F.C.
Date: 07/09/01, updated on 07/09/01 (47 review reads)
Advantages: Excellent youth system
Disadvantages: Ability of manager unproven
In most people’s eyes Blackburn are the second best of the three promoted sides, not as good as Fulham but better than relegation favourites Bolton. It is difficult to say what would be a successful season for Blackburn, although it is likely that most fans would settle for survival, before a better second year.
Assessing Graeme Souness’s managerial ability is one of the hardest things to do in football. He has never really proven himself in England, only once winning the FA Cup with Liverpool and not doing anything at Southampton to suggest he is a class boss.
But successful spells at Rangers, Galatasary and now Blackburn – leading them into the Premiership – counter his failures. The 2001-2002 season is not only important for Blackburn but for Souness too, as he trys to prove that he can manage successfully in the top division.
Ex-Liverpool man Brad Friedel never really got a chance at Anfield, but proved more than adequate in the First Division last year. Friedel is not going to be in anyone’s ‘Premiership Dream Team’ but there are a lot of worse keepers out there.
Balckburn’s defence just reads like a lists of Premiership rejects – but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. It won’t top the defensive records at the end of the season but the back four of ex-Man Utd players John Curtis and Henning Berg, ex-Liverpool full back Stig Inge Bjornbye and Craig Short is not going to be easy to score against. They also have a number of young defenders who will get first team action including Martin Taylor.
Like their goalkeeper, Brad Friedel, the Blackburn defence is solid but unspectacular – Ipswich proved that you can succeed like that, and Blackburn will be looking to do the same.
If Blackburn are to win matches this year, then their exc
iting midfield – a mix of youth and experience, flair and hard work – will have to be functioning at its very best.
Youngsters Damien Duff (a full international with Eire) and David Dunn (one of England’s best midfield prospects) both have enormous natural talent and were instrumental in Blackburn’s second place last year. Craig Hignett and Gary Flitcroft provide experience in the Premiership while Turkish Tugay, a signing from Rangers, is very much an unknown quantity south of the border. Jason McAteer is a quality player but seemingly out of favour with Souness and unlikely to figure at the start of the season. On their day Balckburn’s midfield could rip apart any Premiership defence.
It is hard to say how well Blackburn’s front line will cope with life in the Premier League but if last season is anything to go by goals will not be a problem for the Ewood Park side.
Matt Jansen smashed his way to 24 goals, while Marcus Bent and Nathan Blake backed him up well. There is little doubt that Jansen will get goals although Bent and Blake are still unproven at this level.
New signing Carlos Grabbi comes to England with a lot of fans, but if his early season form continues then he could be this years Juan Pablo Angel – he has already made some terrible misses.
Possible line up (4-4-2)
Blackburn should comfortably survive this season, and be pushing towards a top half finish, although 12th or 13th would be a good season for Souness’s men. Expect them to have a good cup run – probably in the Worthington Cup – and then build on their work next season.