Blackburn Club Focus – Rovers sell Jason Roberts to Reading

Jason Roberts’s five-and-a-half-year spell with Premier League outfit Blackburn Rovers came to an end on Thursday as the veteran Grenadian striker joined Championship side Reading for an undisclosed fee. Roberts, who turned 34 on Wednesday, had fallen out of favour at Ewood Park following a well-documented contractual issue. His last appearance for Steve Kean’s side came during Rovers’ 2-1 loss to West Brom back in mid-December, where the centre forward replaced summer signing Simon Vukcevic in the 62nd minute. Roberts’s exit will come as no surprise to supporters following the recent arrival of Anthony Modeste on loan from Bordeaux.

As is the case with many footballers that have donned the famous blue-and-white strip, Roberts had been the subject of intense criticism at various times during his Rovers career. Many of his knockers argued that he simply did not find the back of the net on enough occasions – and a record of 29 goals in over 150 appearances for the Lancashire outfit goes some way into illustrating their point. As a target man however, there was much more to Roberts’s game than just scoring goals.

What the Royals are getting for their money is a strong, powerful, hard-working team player who scores crucial goals. Roberts is effective at holding the ball up in good positions and bringing others into play. In addition to his qualities on the field of play, the London-born striker is a respectable, mature mentor to have in the dressing room. Fiercely loyal and totally committed, Roberts will be a positive influence at the Madejski Stadium as Reading push for a play-off berth. Rovers may have benefitted by receiving a nominal fee and getting the experienced star off their wage bill, but they have lost a model professional.

Reading Chairman Sir John Madejski recognises this. He said: “I am delighted that a man of Jason Roberts’s calibre has decided to sign for Reading Football Club. He will bring enormous experience to the club, and I wish him every success in helping his new teammates.

While many supporters who appreciated Roberts’s positive attitude and efforts as a Rovers player will understand it was time for him to go, some have been disappointed by the way he has been treated by the club. Rovers have been ruthless with Roberts. Despite handing him a contract extension just a year ago, Kean recently stopped picking him because, according to reports, a clause in Roberts’s contract said that if he played a certain number of games this season he would be entitled to another year at the club. Venky’s have shown a lack of class in dealing with a player who has been a great servant and has shown great passion for Blackburn Rovers.

Former Real Madrid superstar Michel Salgado has a similar contractual dispute; he is also likely to leave the club soon. The fans of the Lancashire outfit will be delighted to know however that – with just a few days of the transfer window left – key men Chris Samba, Steven Nzonzi and Junior Hoilett are still Rovers players. If Venky’s resist the temptation to sell any of their stars in coming days, then the Ewood Park side will stand a good chance of avoiding relegation.

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