Last season I and many others constantly ranted on about the negative on goings at Ewood Park on and off the field which, as we all know, resulted in relegation to the Championship. Following the start of the new campaign I thought it would be fitting to produce an article highlighting some of the positives, if there are any, so far this season.
Before the season even began Steve Kean was handed a huge boost. Many people, including myself, expected a mass exodus over the summer but in actual fact only Junior Hoilett and Yakubu have departed Ewood Park. And with the transfer deadline a week away, it is a huge boost for Rovers that the likes of Olsson, Robinson, Givet and Dann are all still contracted to the club. And if we get to this time next week and things remain the same then Rovers have to be huge favourites to gain promotion.
The new campaign has seen Steve Kean’s men take four points from a possible six, a decent return considering the poor performances given. It is fair to say Rovers have yet to hit the ground running, and with so many news faces at the club it could take a few weeks for the team to gel and understand the ‘tactics’ Kean wants them to play. Good teams have a tendency to churn out results when they are not playing well, and the win against Hull will stand Rovers in good stead for the rest of the season. Both teams were well off the pace, but Blackburn stuck to the task and arguably deserved the three points at the end of the game. So if Rovers can continue grinding out results when the performances are not there then I see no reasons to why Rovers cannot push for automatic promotion. Optimistic? Maybe, but Hull showed the Championship is a long way from the class and glamour of the Premier League and Blackburn have nothing to fear but themselves as complacency could become an issue in the Rovers ranks.
Despite Hull carving out the more clear cut chances the Tigers failed to find a way past Paul Robinson resulting in Rovers recording their first clean-sheet of the campaign. Something that eluded Steve Kean’s men for much of last season, so to get one under the belt early on in the season is a huge boost. But Kean’s men must now build on this defensive display as goal difference could be crucial come the business end of the season.
Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu are arguably the biggest signings of the Championship so far as both could still do an adequate job in the Premier League. Murphy has the ability to dictate play from the middle of the park, he is also a leader, something Rovers lacked last campaign and it is no surprise that Kean has handed him the captain’s armband. In contrast Etuhu is brilliant at doing the dirty work in the heart of midfield, sticking a foot in and winning back possession. He also has an array of passes and I believe he is a fantastic replacement for Steve Nzonzi, the Frenchman is fantastic at spreading play but in my opinion lacks the fight and hunger a central midfielder needs. Having previously played with each other at Fulham, Etuhu and Murphy should already have built up and understanding with each other and will therefore not need any time to gel.
Replacing the prolific Yakubu was always going to be difficult but Steve Kean looks to have found a fitting replacement. Turkish international Colin Kazim-Richards has instantly become a hit with the fans following two goals in as many matches. Despite picking up a knock in the 1-0 win over Hull, which will keep the on loan striker out of action for around six weeks, Richards will be hoping to build on his good start to the season when he returns from injury.
Finally it seems Ewood Park will be introduced to a new style of football this season. Direct football looks set to be a thing of the past as Steve Kean has clearly been working on a new approach during pre-season. During the game against Hull it was apparent Blackburn were eager to dominate and control possession while keeping the ball on the deck. Last season Rovers lacked width however after watching the Hull game it seems Kean wants his men to utilise all the space on the pitch in an attempt to stretch the opposition. The new system is good viewing, however against Hull there was little creativity, something which needs to be addressed. There is no point in dominating possession if there is not going to be an end product. But I believe after a few games, the team will warm to the new tactics resulting in there being more creativity within the team.
As I have stated it is not all doom and gloom at Ewood Park. Steve Kean has surprisingly spent well strengthening in the right areas. However there is one factor which still needs addressing, the manager…