Jumaat, 23 Disember 2011

How Blackburn Can Save Their Season

A New Manager

As always, this can be split into who the fans want to take over and who's actually likely to take the job. There's plenty of speculation linking Mark Hughes with a return, and how the Blackburn faithful must wish for that. The club was in the bottom three when Hughes took over in 2004, but he guided them to both a comfortable 15th-place finish and an FA Cup semi-final, followed by European qualification the season after.

It's not only Hughes' calmness and clear tactical approach that would help Blackburn, but also the brilliance of his backroom team. Kean has had coaching support firstly through John Jensen and currently through Paul Clement, but neither has helped the manager change the team's fortunes. In Mark Bowen, Hughes brings a more than capable assistant who knows many of the squad already. If this re-appointment is to happen, it may convince key players such as Chris Samba and Junior Hoilett to stick around at least until the end of the season.

While Hughes tops the list of wanted men, Avram Grant is surely the leading candidate on the unwanted list. If Steve Kean leaves now, he can at least fall back on the fact that he's never taken a team down (despite giving Rovers a huge shove in that direction). Grant on the other hand has form for that particular achievement, leading Portsmouth and West Ham through the trap door in the past two seasons. It'd be like giving a dying man an extra day to live, with the condition that he spends the full 24 hours with Grant at his side.

Steve Bruce is another name Rovers fans would happily see disappear - "There's a job for you in South Korea, Steve, we wish you all the best." Character aside, Bruce's win ratio at Sunderland almost makes Kean look bearable. He simply wouldn't provide the boost needed at this stage.

Between the wheat and the chaff there aren't many candidates left to inspire optimism. Dave Jones was sacked by Cardiff at the end of last season, but is a motivator who could lift the players' spirits for the battle ahead. It's unlikely that Graeme Souness will make a return to the hotseat from his comfortable punditry armchair, and the same can be said for Roy Keane. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has no experience of management in the Premier League, while any fans who believe Rafa Benitez or Carlo Ancelotti would risk their reputations are as deluded as Kean. Other than the most ludicrous long-term stability, why would anyone want the job?
What's that Diego? You like a challenge? Oh good lord.

The Squad

A massive overhaul is needed. Either that, or hire Paul McKenna to convince each and every squad member that they know how to play football. Venky's know which is the cheaper option, but now is the time to finally show a firm interest in improving the team.

Aside from Yakubu and Scott Dann, Kean's summer signings were dreadful. If the club have to rely on David Goodwillie, Radoslav Petrovic and Bruno Ribeiro (anyone?) to keep them in the top flight, they might as well make an unprecedented request for early relegation.

There is no certainty that money is available - Michel Salgado has been told the club will not renew his contract, with the suggestion that the main reason is finances. It's likely that whoever is in charge will have to feed off scraps in January; one envisages a desperate plunge into the loan market.

Whether Salgado stays or not, a new right-back is required. The Spaniard was a wonderful player in his prime but has been off the pace this season. Why Kean sanctioned Brett Emerton's free transfer return to Australia is beyond most fans, as his strength and stamina have been sorely missed. Jason Lowe, a central midfielder and England U-20 captain, has been filling in, but if anything the experience of the last three months has served to hamper his development. Jon Flanagan is struggling for opportunities at Liverpool and would be a perfect stop-gap until the end of the season.

With Dann out for six weeks, a new centre-back must also be a priority. Grant Hanley has struggled in the first team and Ryan Nelsen remains in the treatment room. Rovers need someone experienced to partner Samba; Everton are short of cash and Sylvain Distin hasn't featured much this season - could they be tempted into loaning him out?

The midfield is the next area lacking steel. David Dunn has never been a holding midfielder, and Steven N'Zonzi's form has plummeted. Rovers need an enforcer, and Emmanuel Frimpong is potentially available until the end of the season. He may be young, but he has more confidence than the whole Blackburn squad combined at the moment. There is nothing for Frimpong to lose, and he may even find a new market for his Dench fashion wear in the north west.

In attack, Yakubu cannot be expected to do it all himself. His record of 10 goals in 12 games is quite phenomenal considering the utterly miserable football on show, but unless someone is found to play off him, Blackburn will struggle to keep the ball away from their calamitous defence. A willing runner is needed to play across the front line. When Rovers were fighting relegation in 2004, they signed Jonathan Stead from League Two Huddersfield Town. He made a huge impact, scoring the winning goals against Fulham, Manchester United and Everton. Perhaps Blackburn should return to The Terriers with a bid for Jordan Rhodes if Venky's stump up the cash?

Can They Stay Up?

The statistics, and the performance against Bolton, say not. Blackburn were truly awful in Tuesday's relegation six-pointer. They were at home against the one team below them in the league and instead of rising to the occasion, they offered the most insipid performance of Steve Kean's reign yet. The first half was particularly gutless and clueless; there was a time at Ewood Park when the manager wouldn't have resurfaced after the interval.

But we're searching for positives, and hope can be found in West Brom's unique achievement in 2005. The Baggies were bottom on Christmas Day, also on ten points but having played a game more than Rovers. They were five points adrift of safety, the same number that stands between Blackburn and Wolves now. The appointment of Bryan Robson and the loan acquisitions of Kieran Richardson and Kevin Campell kept West Brom up when they were seemingly dead and buried as the turkey was carved.

source: http://www.football365.com/f365-says/7390223/How-Blackburn-Can-Save-Their-Season

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