It hasn’t been the best season so far for the North West club. The departure of Sam Allardyce left a hole that many never believed Steve Kean should have been given the chance to fill, and yet the new owners decided in their infinite wisdom to give the former Celtic player (and one-time candidate for the assistant manager’s job at Chelsea) a full-time contract.
The protests cannot be helping the team on the pitch, but it is plain to see that the current state of the squad isn’t exactly the prime foundation for success either. Decimated by injuries, Kean has been forced to blood youngsters well before they would usually gain any experience in the first team, and that inexperience has at times shown badly. He will get no praise when and if those youngsters turn out to be the next big thing, especially if Rovers continue to struggle.
Despite the strength of the team’s core – with Christopher Samba as commanding as ever in front of Paul Robinson, and Steven Nzonzi and Yakubu offering strength and ability through the middle -something is not right at Blackburn, and confidence has a tendency to drop as soon as the opposition is in the ascendancy. What Blackburn need is the kind of confidence injection that comes with a major change, and unfortunately for Steve Kean, the longer into 2012 that his team remain near the foot of the table, the shorter his grasp on the job will last.
For those who are protesting, Kean’s sacking, which fluctuates from a dead certainty to less of one when the team eek out results like the 1-1 draw against Liverpool, would represent the ideal change, and the perfect answer to the needed short-term injection of confidence. And Kean will surely be facing an almighty battle if he doesn’t make some astute signings in this coming window, but the biggest question he faces is not how much money Venky’s will provide him, but how he will find the right kind of players to suit his and the team’s needs.
Because if that doesn’t happen, Rovers face a bleak 2012.
What They Need
If I was cruel, I might be tempted to say a miracle, but there is some hope in some of Blackburn’s performances so far this season. What is clear however, is that Blackburn don’t have the right sort of players currently for ball retention, particularly when under pressure – Kean’s men seem unable to protect a lead (or even a point in some cases), looking desperate when someone with the right experience and organisational nouse would help out the cause hugely.
They also need goals, like everyone else. Yakubu cannot carry the team on his own, even if he is the major goalscoring threat on the books at the minute: Jason Roberts is no more than a championship player these days, and neither David Goodwillie nor Ruben Rochina is the answer in a struggling team. If Venky’s really do have the money to sanction the big deals they threatened to go for after taking over, then presumably they will have enough to bring in someone who can fire the 15 to 20 goals needed to save Blackburn, because the team need that sort of player to join the Yak upfront. Just where he will come from is anyone’s guess.
What the club definitely do not need is another protracted, and rather tragic PR campaign that sees them linked to some of the world’s former shining lights of the sport: the debacle surrounding the supposed pursuit of Ronaldinho helped noone, and none of those type of tent-pole, sensationalist signings could offer Blackburn what they need at this stage.
Looking at the squad, you have to think that Steve Kean is fighting a losing battle. Not because there is a lack of quality – the presence of Robinson, Samba, Nelson, Dann, Hoilett, Formica, Nzonzi and Yakubu disprove that theory – but because he can’t get his side firing on all cylinders. You get the feeling that the team don’t want to play for the manager, not perhaps for the owners, and they are in severe danger of being relegated with the exact same whimper that has slain supposedly “too good to go down” teams like West Ham, Newcastle and Leeds in the past.
Blackburn will do well to keep hold of Chris Samba, with a lot of clubs in the market for defensive reinforcement, and in Junior Hoilett the club have a genuine future star, who is also likely to gather a lot of attention from teams higher in the league looking for a pacy right winger with a trick and a few goals in him. Unfortunately for Blackburn, Hoilett is the sort of player that teams like Aston Villa, Tottenham, Liverpool and Newcastle will inevitably look at because he fits an attacking style that each of those teams aspires to, with varying degrees of success.
There is a lot of dead wood at Blackburn at the minute, and a lot of players who simply are not pulling their weight. Something has to change to get the best out of those players, or to get rid of them. But January overhaul is rarely the answer to radical improvement. So, perhaps the key outgoing deal at Ewood Park this winter will be that which sees Steve Kean depart to the relief of certain parts of the Rovers fanbase.
Well, Blackburn fans, who would you like to see come in, and who should be let go at Ewood Park? Let us know below.
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