Blackburn Rovers boss Steve Kean may currently be under intense pressure due to his poor managerial record since replacing Sam Allardyce in the hot-seat around a year ago, but the optimistic Scot has brought some exciting young players to Ewood Park over the last two transfer windows. Even the harshest of critics will admit that the signings of Mauro Formica, Ruben Rochina and Yakubu have worked out well for Rovers, and there are other players who are slowly but surely beginning to make an impact.
Defender Scott Dann has been Kean’s most expensive signing to date, and although he faced some fitness issues early in his Rovers career, the former Birmingham star has shown signs that he could become a vital player for the Lancashire outfit alongside man-mountain Chris Samba. Another player who has started to make an impact more recently has been Montenegrin attacking midfielder Simon Vukcevic.
The talented 25-year-old, who can play as a winger or just behind the striker, arrived at Ewood Park in the summer for a fee thought to be in the region of around £2m. While Kean left him out of the team earlier in the season, Vukcevic is now beginning to emerge as a key player for Rovers. The former Sporting Lisbon star provided an assist and won a penalty as Kean’s side beat Swansea just a couple of weeks ago, and he also found the net in the recent defeat to Sunderland. Given the speculation surrounding David ‘Junior’ Hoilett’s future at the club, Vukcevic could be the ideal replacement should the highly-rated Canadian decide to leave the club in January.
As is the case with all managers, Kean has not got every signing correct. Roque Santa Cruz flopped on his return to Ewood Park in the second half of last season, while fans are struggling to see where exactly Brazilian right-back Bruno Ribeiro fits into the squad. Myles Anderson was another questionable signing though he, David Goodwillie and Jordan Slew will have plenty of time to prove their worth over the coming years.
The criticism of one player has been particularly worrying. Some supporters, thanks to some lacklustre performances early on in his Rovers career, have already written off midfielder Radosav Petrovic. The lanky Serbian, who was once being tracked by Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, is just 22 years of age and will need time to settle in England and adapt to the Premier League. Whether Rovers fans are willing to give him that time remains to be seen, but if they do, then Petrovic could turn out to be the midfield powerhouse that Ewood Park currently needs.
Meanwhile, Rovers will host West Brom in the Premier League on Saturday. Kean will be desperate to see his side secure all three points at the Baggies’ expense – and for the first time in months there will be no organised protest before, during or after the game. Rovers will need to make the most of the good atmosphere in the stadium this weekend.
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