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[Archived] 2010/2011 Preview

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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.

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Good and accurate read that.

Partly accurate but a lot insulting if you've got a thin skin... Personally, I think it's slightly amusing but takes away from the general message by constant digs so goes into the 'can't be arsed with it' folder.

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I doubt we will have the resilience to pull back as strongly after an iffy start as we did last season so getting some decent results under our belts from the first ten fixtures which are a good representative cross section of Prem opposition is going to be very important for us.

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Our pal Lawro has us down to finish 10th again this season (wonder if his predictions will reflect that?), and remarked that "they have made some decent signings" which I can only assume he's talking last year.

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Can't see how we are going to score goals and feel we are in for a long hard struggle. The side will spend months grinding out results to achieve 40 points and hopefully then play some football.

I expect gates to fall, unless there is a dramatic takeover, with ST sales hit rather more than we would all hope. The football style was terrible last season and the complete lack of signings will have deterred many from renewing, as predicted by some on here months ago.

Last year Philip predicted the first five games should give us a decent start and we made a compete balls of it. I note he's given us ten this year!!!!

Roll on Saturday.

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Another preview from The Guardian (not sure why they've done 2?)

Very positive - possibly a bit over the top?

The season preview: Blackburn Rovers

Big Sam is restoring Blackburn's identity solid, honest and mid-table

The club

Unofficial motto

Nil desperandum auspice Magnus Samo (Don't despair, trust in Big Sam). Still getting over the epic seven-month Paul Ince breakdown, Blackburn want their identity back: solid, honest, mid-table, cliched no-nonsense nothern grit. Nothing too sexy.

The age of austerity

It's one in, one out. Rovers have gone from being the first club derided for buying the title back in 1994-95 to a model of frugal good sense under their chairman, John Williams. The proposed takeover by the businessman Saurin Shah may still happen, but, if not, the club's productive academy means the lack of cash shouldn't hurt too much. They could use a new striker, though.

What they want

Annual midtable finishes and a chance to live the European dream a regular crack at Maribor in the Europa League qualifiers.

What they get

What they want. Only Ince has taken them outside the top 10 since 2005. Their last European tie was a first-round Uefa Cup defeat to Greek side Larissa in 2007, but they look good for securing a return to slightly obscure continental outposts this season. Tenth is the least they can expect.

The players

Coalition or opposition?

Once the kids were brought in halfway through last season, the anti-football made way for a neat, energetic, well-balanced side with a spontaneous edge and genuine team spirit. Trying to add Real Madrid's Guti to that over the summer, for a potentially divisive £70,000-a-week, was daft.

Yoof of today

Top of the club's long list of first-team ready kids are local lad Phil Jones, clearly a future England centre-back, the midfielder Steven Nzonzi last season's player of the year, heavily fancied by Arsène Wenger and Amine Linganzi, signed on a free from St Etienne in January and tipped to make an impact this year. Among other academy products worth watching are the Canadian nipper Junior Hoilett and the Scottish defender Grant Hanley. And one of last season's most impressive youngsters, the Swede Martin Olsson, signed a five-year deal in June. "He's magnificent," says Allardyce.

Mr Blackburn

Ryan Nelsen goes unnoticed in the Premier League, but shone for New Zealand in South Africa. With his defensive partner, Chris Samba, and the good-again goalkeeper Paul Robinson, he's the core of the side.

Who should have his benefits cut?

Pascal Chimbonda: serial club-hopping millionaire let-down.

Everybody loves…

El Hadji Diouf. He admitted "a lack of moral responsibility" in 2004. Since then he's been arrested for drink driving; censored for more spitting; cleared of punching a woman in a nightclub and Nelsen in a dressing room; and denied racially abusing a ballboy. "I'm totally misunderstood," says Diouf. "People just don't get me."

The manager

Life and times

Sam Allardyce impressed at Blackpool and Notts Country and had sustained success at Bolton over eight years but walked away in 2007 in search of something more showbiz. "I've had praise for what I've done here," he said, "but there's nothing to show for it. I want silverware. When I work again, it will only be at a club where I can win something." Or Newcastle. But the credibility he shed at St James' in eight comic fan-baiting months could easily be won back with one strong season on a tight budget at Ewood Park.

Master tactician or lucky general?

Won Rovers fans round when he belatedly loosened his rigid, over-pragmatic grip in the second half of last season. Still lives by the "position of maximum opportunity" though. Was awarded a doctorate in July by the University of Bolton. He's Dr Big Sam now.

Regrets… he's had a few

1 Waiting until 2002 to lose the moustache. 2 Choosing really slow lawyers (four years and counting since he told them to sue the BBC for linking him with bungs). 3 Deciding to join Newcastle. But Sam bears no grudges: he spent his £4m Newcastle compensation on a Costa Blanca villa, and called it "Casa St James".

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Guys, link to the article please rather than copy and pasting their copyrighted text on here. I've not had to deal with nasty-o-grams from newspapers recently, but I don't want to get back in the habit.

No worries, duly noted ....

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Rogs Alternative preview.

I always enjoy those "If they were a ..... they'd be...." previews they do in the broadsheets, so here's my attempt ahead of the 2010/11 season.

If they were a film they'd be.....

Arsenal - Avatar Beautiful to watch, but a lack of depth ultimately costs the sides greatness.

Aston Villa - Oceans Twelve The owner wants his money back, now. Some stars are bound to fall by the way side.

Birmingham - Black Rain Backed by Eastern millions, they ultimately remain under appreciated.

Blackburn - Slumdog Millionaire Underdogs and small spenders who are searching for Indian Millions.

Blackpool- Aladdin Last season was nothing short of a fairytale. Street rats to Sultan, saying that they probably need another genie to keep them up.

Bolton - Paint Your Wagon A change of image isn't always the best move...

Chelsea - Mamma Mia Global phenomenon, hate them or love them, you can appreciate the talent.

Everton - The Expendables Great starring cast with massive potential, but those 80s heydays seem a long time ago..

Fulham - The Godfather Part III No pressure, but top the last two great outings.

Liverpool - James Bond franchise Brilliant in the 60s and 70s, tailed off in the 80s and despite recent successes the future is uncertain.

Man City - Waterworld All the money in the world can't buy you success.......

Man Utd - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Timeless Classic, a team that relies on a similar triumvant for success (Giggs, Neville and Rooney)

Newcastle - The Importance of Being Ernest The ultimate farce. Loved by many, but no one's sure who they really are.

Stoke - Braveheart A difficult watch a times, feared by many in the south, they have their weaknesses but when it comes to a pitch battle, they are second to none.

Sunderland - Any Ben Stiller film Nice to watch every now and again, but they're probably more successful than they ought to be.

Tottenham - 2001 A Space Odyssey Overhyped, Overrated, are they really as good as the media think they are? This season we'll have an answer. Oh and the year ends in a 1.

West Brom - 300 They put up a good fight, but history just isn't their side.

West Ham - Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels Drama, finger pointing, thuggery and farcical at times, life in the East End is never boring.

Wigan - Lethal Weapon 4 Going through the motions, after a dramatic first two campaigns. Not too bad, but not too good either.

Wolves - Predator 2 Survival is the key once again, although it will be difficult they should have enough in the tank.

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Lazy Lazy Lazy Journalism

How can that guy even have a job with that review?

Anybody who had ever watched Rovers would know,

Key Man - David Dunn

Young Star - Anyone from Phil Jones, Grant Hanley, Martin Olsson, Niko Kalinic, Steven N'Zonzi, Amine Linganzi. I'd even put Frank Fielding before Doran!

You would expect more from the Telegraph!!

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