Club Focus – Blackburn Rovers – Sam Allardyce returns to the Reebok Stadium

Sam Allardyce returns to the Reebok Stadium with his Blackburn side this weekend, hoping the Blues can build on their 3-0 victory over Wolves last time out. Allardyce was consistently considered a success during his stint as Bolton manager and took the Trotters to Europe through high league finishes. Nevertheless, Big Sam will be hoping that his Rovers side can upset Own Coyle’s high-flyers.

Although there has been plenty of media attention directed at how well Bolton are doing at the moment, it must be remembered that Blackburn are just two points behind their local rivals in the Premier League table. Whereas Coyle has been praised for changing the fortunes of the Trotters, there has hardly been any recognition from the media of the wonderful job Big Sam is doing at Ewood Park. The Englishman had no money to spend in the summer, yet the Blues are closer to a Europa League spot than the relegation zone, which is a good achievement at this stage of the season.

Bolton have been praised for playing attractive, attacking football in addition to winning games. Blackburn have been playing to their strengths. Although the three goals against Wolves all stemmed from set-pieces, this was because Allardyce had done his research and knew the weakness of the opposition. The fact that the manager did sufficient homework on Mick McCarthy’s side and consequently led his team to victory should be praised. And Rovers do not only have one playing style. Earlier against Arsenal this season, Mame Diouf’s goal after El Hadji Diouf’s great work down the left hand side showed that Blackburn are also capable of putting on a show.

The encounter against Bolton will by no means be a classic. The two locals rivals will be desperate to win and the game may well consist of some crunching tackles. It should be an interesting fixture, particularly with both sides close to each other in the table. Rovers won the corresponding fixture 2-0 last season and would be happy to repeat that scoreline this time around. Allardyce himself has been hitting the headlines recently after England boss Fabio Capello indicated that the Rovers boss could be a suitable replacement for him as manager of the national team.

Big Sam has been linked with the post many times over the years, but with the FA seemingly looking to appoint an English manager in 2012, Allardyce could be a prime contender for the job particularly considering the solid work he has done at both Bolton and Blackburn. Meanwhile, Blackburn have been linked with a move for old boy David Bentley. The Spurs winger previously enjoyed a successful time at Ewood Park, where he wowed the crowd with brilliant goals and excellent performances. Now, he may be in line for a return to Blackburn in order to resurrect his career following a disappointing stint at Tottenham. It remains to be seen whether Rovers’ new owners Venky’s are willing to fund Bentley’s move and wages.

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