Part three in our comprehensive 2012/13 season preview
CRISIS CLUB Blackburn Rovers are next up under the Vital Watford microscope ahead of the new campaign.
The previous season ended in disaster for Steve Kean’s Rovers who were relegated with a whimper, ending a 10-year stay in the top-flight of English football. Controversy seemed to follow the club whatever they did, with Kean somehow holding onto his job despite taking a safe mid-table club to the depths of the Championship in a season and a half.
Void of their most talented performers in striker Yakubu and winger-cum-forward Junior Hoilett, Kean will have to re-build the squad extremely quickly if the Venky-owned venture are planning on a swift-return to the top-flight.
Strengths: There’s been a big clear-out at Ewood Park with a number of big earners and oldies moved on. Whilst that has left Rovers without too many proven performers, Kean has at least cleared the decks of the dross that had dragged the club down to the second-tier.
Weakness’: Kean is clearly not a manager. Whilst the Scot is respected as a coach he has proved emphatically that he is not cut for the role of manager and if the disastrous year and a half under his control haven’t proven that, then it’s hard to imagine what it will take for the bullet-proof boss to finally get the sack.
Best business so far: The signing of former Fulham lynchpin Danny Murphy looks to be a shrewd move. Having played much of his career in the top-flight, the 35 year-old former Whites’ captain should prove a handy addition to the centre of the park, dictating the play and leading by example.
Star man: The highly-rated French midfielder Steven N’Zonzi. Whilst the former Amiens midfielder might not be with the Lancashire outfit for much longer, it’s clear he is a class act.
Tall and rangy, the 23 year-old midfielder works hard to break up the play and lending the ball out to those around him.
In: Danny Murphy (Fulham) free, Nuno Gomes (Braga) free, Leon Best (Newcastle) £2m, Fabio Nunes (Portimonense) free, Paulo Jorge (Porto ‘B’) & Edinho Junior (Olhanense) free.
Out: Yakubu (Guangzhou) £1m, Junior Hoilett, Michel Salgado, Vince Grella, Herald Goulon, Jackson Ramm, Zac Aley, Matthew Pearson & Jamie McLaren (all released).
Prediction: It could very easily be another campaign of doom and gloom for Rovers if they don’t get off to a good start – mid-table.