Blackburn Rovers season preview: Ambitious Kean targets top 10 finish

They say good things come to those who wait and Blackburn Rovers’ passionate fans have certainly done their fair share of waiting. Ever since the optimistic Steve Kean guided his side to Premier League safety with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Wolves on the final day of last season, the Ewood Park faithful have been hungry for new signings. It may have taken 10 weeks but manager Kean and owners Venky’s finally dipped their toes into the transfer market to sign highly-rated Scottish striker David Goodwillie. The fans are demanding more glitzy summer arrivals and, fortunately for them, there are more deals in the pipeline.

Kean is working hard to try and replace those who have left the club since May. Mame Diouf, Roque Santa Cruz and Jermaine Jones have all returned to their parent clubs, while teenage sensation Phil Jones was reluctantly sold to champions Manchester United. The loss of the two Jones’s will hurt the most, although with Serbian star Radosav Petrovic on the verge of a switch to Lancashire, Rovers may just have found a younger, cheaper alternative to Jermaine Jones, the Schalke midfielder.

Replacing the immensely talented Phil Jones, who was able to play both at centre-back and as a defensive midfielder, will be slightly more difficult. Kean insists he is scouring the market for another defender to add to his thin squad. That search may hasten should Arsenal decide to place a bid for the popular Congolese defender Chris Samba. No formal approach has yet been made for the giant Rovers skipper and neither is one welcome, but it appears as though Kean will need to sign a new centre-half regardless of where Samba’s immediate future lies.

However, the Lancashire outfit has added some much-needed cover for the full-back positions. Brazilian right-back Bruno Ribeiro has all but sealed his switch to Ewood Park while the young defender Myles Anderson, who can play in the middle and on the left-hand side of the back four, joined the former Premier League champions on a free transfer last month. The arrival of the duo may not set the imagination of supporters on fire, however they could both prove to be valuable additions should injuries begin to bite as the season progresses.

And who could forget attacking aces Mauro Formica and Ruben Rochina, who were signed late in January? Neither was given much of an opportunity to showcase their talents last season as they settled into a new country, however both have looked reasonably sharp in pre-season. Fans are particularly excited by former Barcelona youngster Rochina who has already impressed hugely at Reserve level. Both could play a significant role this season.

As the new season edges closer, many in the media and outside of Blackburn believe the Lancashire side will once again be involved in a relegation dogfight. Supporters are slightly more positive. Kean himself feels Rovers can challenge for a top-half finish and although that may seem a tad optimistic, a few more exciting signings before the transfer window slams shut could be the catalyst for an improved, worry-free season.

Manager – Steve Kean: The Scot begins his first full season in charge of a club and will be hoping to continue where he left off towards the end of the last campaign. Some have questioned whether he is the right man for the job, but Indian owners Venky’s remain 100% behind Kean.

Key signing – David Goodwillie: Kean signed his fellow countryman for a reported fee of around £2m and the former Dundee United striker will be expected to solve Rovers’ goalscoring problems. Goodwillie will replace the outgoing Nikola Kalinic and unless another striker is purchased, the young Scot is likely to lead the line this season.

Key departure – Phil Jones: The defender was an outstanding presence for Rovers since bursting onto the scene in March 2009; an excellent reader of the game who had the ability to cover two positions. Rovers have also lost a local lad who really spurred the Ewood Park crowd on, however, they did net a cool £16.5m for the youngster.

Possible XI:

Robinson

Salgado – Samba – Nelsen – Givet

Nzonzi – Dunn

Emerton – Hoilett – Olsson

Goodwillie

Find the latest Blackburn Rovers Premier League betting odds at OLBG.com

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