All Quiet on the Home Front

Indian owners yet to make moves to remedy last season’s failures

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Very few pundits and fans alike would have expected Blackburn to have been fighting a relegation battle last season, right up until the last-day drama at Molineux.

But so far this summer, all has been quiet at Ewood Park.

Just the solitary acquisition of former Leyton Orient and Aberdeen defender Myles Anderson to show for, Steve Kean has a fair amount of work to do before the opening day duels commence on August 13th.

It’s a team that at present is probably more focused on the potential departures of two players that are poles apart in their affection from Rovers’ fans.

Christopher Samba is a defensive colossus, simply put. This summer has seen him linked with Arsenal, and it is easy to see why. The Gunners lack a dominating and physical presence at the back, with Squillaci and Koscielny struggling to adapt to the Premier League in their first season. Samba would seem like an ideal solution.

Only time will tell how long Samba would be willing to tolerate fighting for points in mid-table, unless Venky’s open the chequebook and bring in some talent capable of propelling Rovers into what is already crowded competition for European places. He has already stated an intention to leave in the previous January transfer window, but instead signed a contract extension until the end of 2014-15 season.

Also a leader in the dressing room and a popular figure amongst the fans, Samba would be a huge miss should he depart.

On the opposite end of the scale, few tears would be shed if troublesome Senegalese international El-Hadji Diouf finally be offloaded.

Diouf has courted trouble wherever he has been. From spitting at Middlesbrough fans whilst at Liverpool, to goading Celtic fans in the tempestuous end-of-season Old Firm encounter a few months back, he can never seem to keep his nose clean.

He has already been told by Kean that he has no future at Ewood Park, but the question now is who will be willing to take a gamble on a player whose downsides ultimately outweigh the ups. His two-time former boss Sam Allardyce has been linked with a move to bring him to Upton Park, but the hard-to-please pairing of Gold and Sullivan atop the Hammers’ hierarchy are likely to KO any deal for the winger, given the fact they are a team in need of a rebuild.

However, Kean’s faith in the club’s academy products could prove fruitful. The void left by Phil Jones’ departure to Old Trafford is likely to be filled by young Scot Grant Hanley, who impressed during his emergence last season. A former youth-team captain, Hanley has the makings of a ready-made replacement for Ryan Nelson.

Josh Morris has also been promoted to the first team, and would undoubtedly be given a chance should Samba decide his future lies elsewhere.

Rovers faith in youth may have been brought about by their relative failure bringing in quality players, and It could be said that Rovers’ haven’t done the best job in the transfer market in recent seasons.

Players like Amine Linganzi, Mauro Formica and Herold Goulon have struggled to breakthrough into the first team, and only time will tell if Ruben Rochina can show the potential that saw him turnout for Barcelona’s academy.

Nikola Kalinic shows flashes of brilliance, but they are all too rare for a player who cost the club £6m from Hadjuk Split in 2009. 7 goals in 44 appearances does not begin to justify that price tag, and he will have to hit the ground running in the new season to highlight his worth to Blackburn.

With Jason Roberts, Rochina and Benjani as their only other strikers, none of whom can claim to be the regular goalscorer that Rovers need. They could be among a host of clubs interested in acquiring Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge on loan, but would face competition from the likes of Newcastle and Bolton, his loan suitors from last season.

Wheels will have to be put in motion soon at Ewood Park, if Rovers are to avoid a similar plummet to the one that blighted them last season. If not and the struggles resume when the hostilities do, Steve Kean could be far too easy a target.

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