MarkBRFC71 Posted August 3, 2010 Share Posted August 3, 2010 Just seen this in the Guardian - a fair assessment IMO: Guardian writers' prediction: 15th (NB: this is not necessarily Barry's prediction, but the average of our writers' tips) Last season's position: 10th Odds to win league: 1,000-1 These are jittery, uncertain times at Blackburn Rovers, a club very much in stasis with the new season looming. The "For Sale" signs are up outside Ewood Park, while a protracted takeover by Indian entrepreneur Saurin Shah remains as up in the air as an opposition centre-forward on the receiving end of a Christopher Samba reducer. Little is known about Shah and even less about how his mooted purchase of Rovers from the Walker Trust is progressing. Both parties have signed a Non Disclosure Agreement that precludes them from publicising details of the ongoing process of due diligence – a shame for many football fans who, given the choice, would rather examine the nitty-gritty of such paperwork than watch Rovers play. Away from the accountants' office, a gruelling pre-season boot camp in the same Austrian internment camp where Fabio Capello's England were incarcerated prior to their underwhelming World Cup campaign preceded a decidedly unimpressive run of pre-season results to date (P8 W3 L4 D1). The highlights, for want of a better word, were wins over the mighty Fleetwood Town and Sydney. A preposterously hypocritical rant from the manager Sam Allardyce about AEK Athens players rough-housing his star player David Dunn at the Sydney Festival of Football provided comic relief. Meanwhile the fruitless search for a new Rovers striker continues, with Allardyce growing increasingly frustrated by his ongoing inability to buy or borrow the much-needed goalscorer required to add to the paltry seven Premier League goals the senior strikers Jason Roberts and the currently injured Nikola Kalinic mustered between them last season. "I am not going to settle for what I have got," announced Dr Allardyce, who was honoured by Bolton University earlier this summer. "If I can't get a striker then I will go elsewhere and get a midfield player. But we would like to have a midfield player and a striker." Despite rumours that he spat the dummy over the paucity of transfer funds being made available to him, Blackburn's gum-chewing gaffer need not be too disheartened – there's plenty of time left to plug the gaps and few Premier League managers are better equipped or connected when it comes to securing last-minute loans or buys. Despite having considerably less coin than most of his Premier League rivals and nobody to spend it on yet, Big Sam's is a settled side of middle-ranking journeymen who give every impression of being imbued with an all-for-one spirit. Rousing themselves from a turn of year slump that had threatened to leave them down among the dead men, they lost just one of their final nine matches of last season. Holding both Manchester United and Chelsea, they signed off with the dual flourish of beating Arsenal and Aston Villa. While Rovers' form on the road last season was nothing short of appalling, a stout defence and the emergence of first-season pros and potential starlets of the future such as Phil Jones, Martin Olsson, Junior Hoilett and Steven Nzonzi will console fans frustrated by forays into the transfer market that have proved fruitless to date. They will also have been heartened by the breath-taking form of Dunn. The Fat Controller is the midfield hub in a line-up much maligned for its lack of creativity and chipped in with nine league goals last season. Eight of them, crucially, were scored in matches Blackburn won. Should Allardyce's struggle to find a striker who delivers the goods continue, it is probably no exaggeration to say that his team's season will stand or fall on his midfield general maintaining his excellent form of last season and steering clear of injury. It's a tall order, but at least Fabio Capello's unwillingness to heed pre-World Cup calls for Dunn's England recall means he should start the new season fresh and unencumbered by embarrassment. With so many imponderables to consider before the start of the new campaign, it's difficult to predict with anything approaching certainty whether Sam Allardyce's side can emulate last season's excellent 10th place finish. Much can go right or wrong for the Lancashire club in the coming weeks, but the smart money would have to go on them coming up short. In a division awash with mediocrity, they boast a defence and midfield robust enough to suggest they're just one in-form striker away from feet-up-in-March guaranteed safety. But for a notoriously physical side, there is a fragility about them that hints they might also be one busy physio from the drop. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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