The Blackburn Rovers circus appears to have settled somewhat with the appointment of Nottingham Forest old boy Gary Bowyer. Ahead of Saturday’s meeting at Ewood Park, Mikey Delap from The Wild Blackburn Rover tells us what to expect from the home side…
What are your expectations for 2013-14?
It might sound like I am setting the bar low but given last season’s troubles, stumbling from disaster to disaster with little thought given to the sanity of everyone involved, simply a period of stability would suffice.
Having sacked two different managers, had one leave by ‘constructive dismissal’ and endured numerous periods of change and upheaval alone over the course of last season, to have a campaign where some proper foundations are laid to sustain the football club in the future would do me more than fine.
If that can happen and at a decent speed, we could be on for a push towards the play-offs, but it’s a bit early to be viewing that as a totally realistic proposition.
What’s the fans’ general opinion of Gary Bowyer?
He’s well liked. The jury is going to remain out on him in the short-term as this is his first ever managerial job in the ‘big leagues’ but he has the respect of the players that he is in charge of and, perhaps more importantly, has been given the nod of patience and approval from those of us in the stands… you only need to have one look at the reign of Steve Kean to see what can materialise if you don’t have that sort of backing.
Furthermore he did a very solid job when thrust into an emergency rescue act role twice last term. So I suppose, in summary, the current verdict is – unsure of what to expect, but more than willing to give him a chance to succeed.
Have there been many changes since last season?
Certainly in the playing staff department, yes. We’ve made 11 summer signings, pretty much all of whom are cast from a different mould than the spend big, rotating-door policy we were charging through last pre-season.
Gone (at least for now) is Shebby Singh and his insistence on signing ageing Premier League veterans and unknown Portuguese players, out has gone the universally disliked figure of Danny Murphy and the hard-working but past it Nuno Gomes.
In has come a more workmanlike set of signings, many of whom are hardly overwhelmingly exciting but are just what we need. The sort of players to put some punch back into the fight and at least play with a bit of unity and pride.
We’ve also moved out Mr Paul ‘Who you know, not what you know’ Agnew from his director’s role and kept most of our activities in-house rather than played it out in the media like a clown looking for as much attention and laughter as possible.
So yeah — a fair bit has changed. Mostly for the good too.
What can we expect tactically?
Expect a well-drilled unit, perhaps a little unfamiliar at the moment but with the potential to play above what the parts suggest they are individually capable of.
Bowyer has emphasised that his side will be together and play through the midfield in the main. Our formation tends to fluctuate between a more traditional 4-4-2 and the more European 4-2-3-1 systems depending on who is starting.
Who are the key players to watch out for?
First port of call as always is Jordan Rhodes. Spends 90% of the game not doing a great deal but give him a sniff and he’ll make you pay. During the season opener as well it has to be said that new/old boy Alan Judge could be one to keep an eye out for; he’s diminutive, tricky and has the potential to be a supply line.
Elsewhere the talents of Thomas Cairney could link defence and attack well, if he can focus and not let the bad habits of his stay at Hull creep back in.
What’s going to happen on Saturday?
It’s the Championship so Christ knows. Oh sorry, you want a proper answer. I’d imagine we’re in for quite a tight game, I expect Forest to be a tougher examination that we received from a motivated but somewhat limited Derby County side last weekend, we played well – and perhaps deserved the win as well.
I imagine your boys will be up and around the right end of the table when the business end of the season kicks in, but what the hell… I’ll put us down for a 2-1 win. Rhodes and Leon Best with the goals.
You can follow Mikey on Twitter: @MikeyDelap
Image: By Ronnie Macdonald from Chelmsford, United Kingdom (Goal Celebrations 3 Uploaded by russavia) (CC-BY-2.0), via Wikimedia Commons