Blackburn capped off a fine season with a solid top ten finish in the Premier League, silencing the doubters who see the Ewood Park outfit as nothing more than an unpleasant eyesore.
Sure, the football on display may be a far cry from pretty, but Sam Allardyce knows how to get a job done well. Many are critical of the man, but his so-called ‘anti-football’ makes Blackburn Rovers a very difficult side to beat.
A solid five-man midfield pulls the strings in gritty fixtures, especially those against lower opposition where Rovers excel – not one game was lost against sides in the bottom seven.
Allardyce has looked to further improve his squad this summer, but so far only Manchester United’s Mame Biram Diouf has arrived through the door at Ewood Park, which still leaves the side thin on strikers.
But the ex-Bolton boss still has over two weeks to bring in some new faces. Frustration has been the name of the game so far this summer, a point the Rovers manager has stressed.
"We have tried very, very hard over the last eight weeks and had many, many disappointments," he said.
"Most of the time it boils down to net salaries that people are asking for and the 50 per cent tax bracket in this country.
"If David Cameron is listening, drop the tax bracket will you? Then we can get the best players in the world to play in the best league in the world."
Rovers struggled in attack last year, demonstrated by their most prolific player coming in the form of midfielder David Dunn. The 30-year-old hit nine league goals last season in the side’s successful campaign, and hopes once again rest on the shoulders of Allardyce’s key man.
Worryingly Jason Roberts was the club’s top-scoring forward last year with just five goals. It is an area that Allardyce has already addressed needs improving; words which would have been music to the ears of fans who believe their side can push for a top six finish this campaign.
The likes of Mortem Gamst Pedersen and Martin Olsson have pledged their futures to the club however, meaning the exit door should not be seeing the club’s top stars leaving anytime soon.
Of course you don’t secure a top ten Premier League finish for no reason, and Blackburn possess strength in abundance. Quite literally. Sam Allardyce’s tactics may be hard to cuddle up to, but if you want grit, graft and determination then Rovers are your men.
A cosmopolitan combination of experience and youth form the basis of success at Ewood Park, and - if pre-season was anything to go by - Allardyce’s young guns may well see far more action this campaign.
Players like Nikola Kalinic - a £6 million purchase from Hajduk Split last season – has much to prove in the Premier League after the previous exploits of Roque Santa Cruz. Goals were hard to come by last campaign for the striker, but with the right support the Croatian may find more joy this year.
Meanwhile Steven N’Zonzi is no longer just a man with a funny name, instead taking his place as an integral part of plans at Ewood Park. Indeed, the club handed the player a five-year contract this summer, a testament to the faith Allardyce has in the defensive midfielder.
With investment in the club seemingly on the horizon, Blackburn will finally rid themselves of debt and begin to push on for a place in the Europa League this season.
Potential new owner Ahsan Ali Syed has revealed that Sam Allardyce could expect between £80-100 million to spend alone on players and insists the current manager could ‘work wonders’ with the right resources.
A difficult challenge it may be, but with Allardyce in charge and a squad with undoubted ability, the club already have the basis of success under their belts.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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