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Summer of 1995 - Fantasy Football Hindsight (Who should Rovers have bought?)


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So it’s June 1995 – Kenny Dalglish has lead Rovers to the Premier League title, but then decided to step down as first team manager. Jack Walker has entrusted you with the job and given you £15m to make signings – who are you buying?

In real life Rovers added just Adam Reed from Darlington and Matty Holmes from West Ham (with Robbie Slater going in the other direction) before the season started. We were strongly linked with a double move for Alan Stubbs and Jason McAteer from Bolton, but that fell through when McAteer decided he wanted to move to Liverpool. Looking back on it, how much different would history have been had Rovers invested that summer and pushed forward?

With the budget of £15m (thanks to hindsight), who should we have bought that would have realistically come to Rovers. As regards to European competitions, it might be worth remembering that you could only have 3 non-English players in your match day squad at that time.

I’ve done a list below of some possible targets that moved around the mid-90’s – or potential signings that we could have gone for:

Gareth Southgate £2.5m

Les Ferdinand £6.0m

Marc Overmars £6.0m

Paul Ince £7.5m

Ruel Fox £4.25m

Stan Collymore £8.5m

Nick Barmby £5.25m

Ruud Gullit Free

Denis Bergkamp £7.5m

Georgi Kinkladze £2.0m

Chris Armstrong £4.5m

Zinedine Zidane £1.2m

Personally I’d have let some of the fringe players like Talia, Gale, Makel and Harford go. I’d have kept the likes of Slater and Atkins for squad players (ones that we let go at the time).

I’d have strengthened at the back with an English centre-half – either Southgate at £2.5m or gone for a 20-year-old Sol Campbell from Spurs. I reckon £7m would have done the trick for Sol. In the end, I went for both as the budget allowed it.

I’d have been tempted to go for either Overmars or Bergkamp at the prices above, but the English player rule in the Champions League would put me off them. I always quite liked Ruel Fox as a winger who could provide cover on either flank – so I’d have gone for him at £4.25m.

Probably the ultimate hindsight, but we were interested in him in the mid-90’s, but Zidane was reportedly available for £1.2m – so he’s my foreign signing.

 

In (£14.95m)

Sol Campbell (20) - £7m

Gareth Southgate (24) - £2.5m

Ruel Fox (27) - £4.25m

Zinedine Zidane (22) - £1.2m

 

Out:

Frank Talia

Tony Gale

Lee Makel

Paul Harford

rovers.jpg

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I made a similar post a couple weeks back.  Love this topic as I find it fascinating.  This was a pivotal summer and where Rovers threw it all away. 

Harford was an utter disaster as manager.  His record was so poor it was unbelievable.  He has Alan Shearer in top form in 95/96 and could only finish 7th.  From his first game in charge he was a disaster and his selections were baffling.

Harford was never going to attract top players.  His name in the game was not big enough which a team like Blackburn needed.  Dalglish was the draw for Blackburn, not so much the wages which Walker paid.  Shearer would not have come if Don Mackay was manager say even if they paid the same money.

Les Ferdinand was the man to buy that summer.  A very good player and would have linked up well for Shearer.  Sutton was ok but I dont think he was quite good enough.  His goals dried up at the end of 1994.

Walker in hindsight should have got in a big name manager and been ruthless.  I still cant understand Dalglish's decision.  Made no sense whatsoever.

I would have bought David Platt possibly and obviously Zidane if he was offered!

The team needed more continental players to compete in the Champions League.  English football was miles off the pace then.

Matty Holmes! Christ! What were they thinking!

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Southgate was a midfielder back in 1995, it was at Aston Villa where he got converted to centre half.

I thought 1 strong signing in each of the central positions was what was needed to sustain another challenge the year after. Plus maybe a left winger to cover Wilcox who was out for the first half of the 95/96 season.

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Was it that season or the year after when we were heavily linked with Trevor Sinclair?

I seem to remember Jack not being keen, possibly out of loyalty to Wilcox if I remember correctly. He’d have been a lot better bet than Matty Holmes for sure. I’d go for him along with Zidane who I would happily pay the same as Shearer.

I’m sure we signed Chris Coleman that year too. With the benefit of hindsight Southgate would’ve been the much better buy from Palace. I’d go with that.

Super Atko goes nowhere.

I’m not sure how reliable my memory is, but I recall Chris Armstrong always doing well and scoring against us. While there are better value deals to be had, I hate Dennis Bergkamp and he’s too scared to get on planes, and I reckon we’d give the Champions League a much better crack with my updated squad!

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1 hour ago, MarkBRFC said:

Southgate was a midfielder back in 1995, it was at Aston Villa where he got converted to centre half.

I thought 1 strong signing in each of the central positions was what was needed to sustain another challenge the year after. Plus maybe a left winger to cover Wilcox who was out for the first half of the 95/96 season.

Overmars for Wilcox would have been my signing.

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Great topic!

Christ what a missed opportunity. Champions of England, potential for many years at the top with a very strong core group of players, and then we decide to go and bring in a player from friggin' Darlington!!
I forgot/never knew that we actually swapped Robbie Slater for Matt Holmes, Slater from what I remember was a really good player and if it was an actual swap I definitely think we got the raw deal.

Perfect case of what might have been if we had a planned transition to a proven manager after Kenny (or if even Kenny would have given it one more year as manager until we find someone more suitable).

Overmars, Zidane and a top defender, possibly Campbell would have seen us well set.

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45 minutes ago, Miller11 said:

Was it that season or the year after when we were heavily linked with Trevor Sinclair?

 

I do remember us being linked heavily with Trevor Sinclair - it was certainly around that time, if not maybe 1996. He would have been a decent signing and I think he could play either flank?

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9 minutes ago, Irish_Rover said:

Great topic!

Christ what a missed opportunity. Champions of England, potential for many years at the top with a very strong core group of players, and then we decide to go and bring in a player from friggin' Darlington!!
I forgot/never knew that we actually swapped Robbie Slater for Matt Holmes, Slater from what I remember was a really good player and if it was an actual swap I definitely think we got the raw deal.

Perfect case of what might have been if we had a planned transition to a proven manager after Kenny (or if even Kenny would have given it one more year as manager until we find someone more suitable).

Overmars, Zidane and a top defender, possibly Campbell would have seen us well set.

Definitely a missed opportunity. There was definitely money still available (as Hodgson and Kidd were given a fortune in the late 90s), so it's a shame it wasn't used to consolidate our position at the top of English football. I'm not sure why Slater or Atkins were allowed to go - they were both solid squad players. We definitely had the core of a very good squad there at the right age - it just needed building upon. Would we have kept hold of Shearer for longer if we'd have been fighting for the title every season?

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Summer of 1995 Kanchelskis was available, the best winger in the Premiership at the time - couldn't understand why we didn't move for him but it became clearer with hindsight as Walker had turned the spending taps off. 

Rovers owe Walker so much obviously but he also sowed the seeds of our destruction that summer

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Just now, LeftWinger said:

Definitely a missed opportunity. There was definitely money still available

It wasn't available in summer 1995 though - Walker decided the team didn't needs strengthening. A fatal decison

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51 minutes ago, Miller11 said:

Was it that season or the year after when we were heavily linked with Trevor Sinclair?

I thought it was Mark Kennedy that Dalglish wanted from Milwall?

Can't remember Sinclair links to be honest but of course not saying they didn't happen.

Edited by MarkBRFC
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24 minutes ago, Tyrone Shoelaces said:

Overmars for Wilcox would have been my signing.

I was always a fan of Overmars. It was reported Arsenal paid somewhere between 5m and 7m for him in 1996. He'd have been a top, top signing and could have played either wing as well. Obviously a miles better player than Ruel Fox, I only went for Fox then I could have Zidane as my continental addition. Overmars or Bergkamp would have been incredible. Can you imagine Bergkamp in behind Shearer?

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2 minutes ago, jim mk2 said:

It wasn't available in summer 1995 though - Walker decided the team didn't needs strengthening. A fatal decison

A quick look at Soccerbase - and this isn't 100% accurate as some of the transfers slip into different windows (ie. Anderson/Dahlin/Henchoz fall into 1996/97 spend, despite being bought in the summer of 97) and there are undisclosed fees.

1995/96 - £2.25m

1996/97 - £8.5m

1997/98 - £14.275m

1998/99 - £29m

Can you imagine if we'd have spent more of that money at the end of the 1995 season and strengthened rather than turned the taps off and gone backwards.....and then had to switch the hose on!

Not a criticism of Jack at all, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

 

 

 

 

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Rovers have long been interested in the forward who is on the fringe of England selection.

Indeed they tried to sign him when he moved from Blackpool to QPR for £700,000, being persuaded by then-manager Gerry Francis that he would have a better chance of establishing himself at Loftus Road. Sinclair has never expressed a wish to move from QPR.

https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/6206607.rovers-keep-tabs-sinclair/

That was from 1996.

 

 

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Good thread. We had a great opportunity back then to make real headway in the league, at least up until 2000. Money wasn't the issue, as we saw with the heavy spending in '98.

We could and should, have been competing with United and Arsenal up until the end of the 90's. We made a bit of a fist of it in 97/98 but started to fall away in Feb of that season (It's always February with us!)

For some reason Jack decided not to strengthen us in the summer of '95 and it's something I often look back on and think what might have been. Weren't Zidane and Dugarry at our training ground that summer? They both would have been fantastic signings.

Sol Campbell, Ruel Fox and Les Ferdinand would have been excellent business that summer too. I always rated Ruel Fox. A box of tricks, I remember him running us ragged in a game at Ewood in Feb '98 when Spurs won 3-0. He scored in injury time too that day to cap off a miserable afternoon. I read somewhere recently that we had a chance to sign Ruel Fox but Jack didn't want him. I don't know how true that rumour is though.

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1 minute ago, SuperBrfc said:

Sol Campbell, Ruel Fox and Les Ferdinand would have been excellent business that summer too. 

And available for around £17m (I'm guessing with Campbell). What would you get for that today? 

It's not even as though it's not obvious that those three would have hugely strengthened us (even at the time).

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16 minutes ago, LeftWinger said:

Not a criticism of Jack at all, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Hindsight or bleedin' obvious? All the top clubs strengthen when they're on top. Standing still is fatal in football and that's exactly what we did in summer 1995 (and this January transfer window as well). Walker isn't above criticism and he got it badly wrong after we won the title

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39 minutes ago, jim mk2 said:

Hindsight or bleedin' obvious? All the top clubs strengthen when they're on top. Standing still is fatal in football and that's exactly what we did in summer 1995 (and this January transfer window as well). Walker isn't above criticism and he got it badly wrong after we won the title

The other way of looking at it is he achieved his dream, gave us all fantastic memories but didn't want to continue to pump endless sums of money in. I'm fine with that. Beyond the title he left an incredible legacy in the form of the stadium and training ground/academy infrastructure. It's a shame the ground is looking shabby and they're trying their best to get rid of the training ground. We're still reaping the benefits of the academy, the delta between our league position and budget is driven by the academy graduates and the pipeline continues to look strong.

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13 minutes ago, Displaced Rover said:

The other way of looking at it is he achieved his dream, gave us all fantastic memories but didn't want to continue to pump endless sums of money in. I'm fine with that. Beyond the title he left an incredible legacy in the form of the stadium and training ground/academy infrastructure. It's a shame the ground is looking shabby and they're trying their best to get rid of the training ground. We're still reaping the benefits of the academy, the delta between our league position and budget is driven by the academy graduates and the pipeline continues to look strong.

 

All very true but Walker clearly made a strategic error in not investing further in 1995.

The result was he then saw his beloved Rovers get relegated a few years later and although he died in the summer of 2000 after our promotion back to the top flight, he spent the last years of his life watching us in the second tier again.

The irony is he spent another fortune in the late 1990s, often on some very average players, when the money would have been better spent in summer 1995 when quality players would have flocked to Ewood. 

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I can;t get my head around Dalglish.  In his autobiography he said he resigned 5 days after winning the league.  Said Europe held no lure for him.  Bizarre.  You would imagine he would have been licking his chops at taking on the likes of Barcelona et al and making big money signings wit Rovers top of the tree in 1995.

Fergie would have seen winning the championship as the start of an empire.  Dalglish saw it as the end of a journey. A sort of 'lets jump out of the drivers seat before this goes tits up'.

I find Dalglish's book full of oddities.  Claims he wanted out of management twice then within a few months had taken another job.

 

I remember after the league was won thinking Blackburn are going to go onto better things.  Dalglish will sign some top players now and will be challenging for the next few years.  The squad was good and just needed a few holes to be plugged.  A defender, a midfielder and either a striker or winger.

I remember being really underwhelmed when Holmes and the really small names came in that summer. I was thinking WTF!

Another turning point came 2 years earlier.  Imagine Blackburn had signed Roy Keane.  Shearer and Keane. That would have been an incredible duo to have together.

 

 

Gazza was available.  Lars Bohinen came in the autumn.  A decent player but not good enough for where the club needed to go.  Billy McKinlay! Another dud!

Edited by Nuttall is lost
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8 hours ago, LeftWinger said:

rovers.jpg

Looking at that squad Rovers should have signed a central defender and a midfielder.

What about Gary Speed and Craig Short? They both went to Everton that summer. Both would have been excellent. 

Batty was fit in 95/96. It's a shame that Warhurst didn't make it back to his level after his second leg break or he would have been another gilt edged player at Rovers disposal. 

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