With the Football League kick-off just days away, this series of articles takes a closer look at the 24 teams vying for the £100 million Premier League bonanza.
Given their troubles in the 2012/3 campaign, Blackburn surprised many with an eighth-placed finish last season, missing out on a play-off spot by just two points and ending the season on a 12-match unbeaten run.
It is a credit to the understated management of Gary Bowyer that he has not only stabilised the Lancashire club, but improved their fortunes on the pitch.
In the transfer market Bowyer proved himself a shrewd operator, with January signings Rudy Gestede, Craig Conway and Tom Cairney all contributing to Rovers’ end of season push; not to mention the continued prolific form of Jordan Rhodes.
This summer has seen Bowyer trim his squad of ‘dead matter’ and the signings of experienced Championship players Chris Brown, Luke Varney and Alex Baptiste are solid if unspectacular.
With Rhodes around Blackburn will always be in with a chance, but an over reliance on the Scottish international and a leaky defence means it is unlikely Blackburn will make significant promotion challenge; however I believe they are contenders for the play-offs and may even sneak that sixth place finish this time around.
Last Season: 8th
Manager: Gary Bowyer
Transfers In*: Chris Brown (Doncaster, free), Luke Varney (Leeds, free), Alex Baptiste (Bolton, loan)
Transfers Out*: Alan Judge (Brentford, undisclosed), Ruben Rochina (Granada, undisclosed), Ryan Edwards (Morecambe, free), David Goodwillie (Aberdeen, free), Alex Marrow (Carlisle, free), Matt Urwin (Bradford, non-contract), Josh Morris (Fleetwood, loan), Anthony O’Connor (Plymouth, loan), Leon Best (Derby, loan), Dickson Etuhu, DJ Campbell (released)
One To Watch: Jordan Rhodes (striker)
51 goals in two seasons in the Championship should tell you all you need to know about Scotland striker Rhodes: outside the Premier League there is no better goalscorer and he is the main reason why Blackburn will have an outside sniff at promotion this season.
Given his record it is surprising a Premier League club hasn’t come sniffing around, even though Rovers would command a hefty fee.
His ‘fox in the box’ profile may put off some, especially struggling Premier League clubs who prefer runners and workers, whereas Rhodes very much operates within the confines of the opposition’s penalty area.
Rhodes is a born goalscorer though, an old-fashioned penalty-box operator that is becoming a bit of a dying breed. He will guarantee Blackburn a minimum 20 goals this season and that is why he will be so important to their challenge.
Selected Odds: Champions 20-1; Promotion 13-2; Relegation 20-1
Opening Fixtures: Cardiff (H), Blackpool (A), Norwich (A)
*Correct at the time of writing
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