Blackburn Club Focus – No time for sentiment on Dalglish return

As you walk down towards the back of the tunnel at Ewood Park, a large picture of Kenny Dalglish appears on the wall. The image shows the Scotsman holding the Premier League trophy, which he won for Blackburn Rovers back in 1995. For all the criticism currently being levelled at Dalglish for Liverpool’s failings this season, he remains one of just five managers to have ever won the Premier League. And on Tuesday night, Dalglish will return to the ground of the club where he made history.

‘King Kenny,’ as he is affectionately known to both Rovers and Liverpool supporters, could have been in charge of the Reds for this fixture last season, but missed out by just one game. As it happened, a sensational Rovers performance saw Liverpool defeated 3-1 here 13 months ago and Roy Hodgson – another former Blackburn boss – was consequently sacked. If he had been dismissed just a few days earlier, Dalglish would have returned to Rovers’ ground sooner. Instead, this is the first time he will be back at Ewood Park as a manager since his Newcastle days in 1998.

While he is likely to receive a good reception from the home crowd, what Rovers fans will really be hoping to see is Dalglish defeated. The Lancashire outfit have lost their last three games and are in deep trouble at the bottom end of the table. Currently sitting in 18th place and with just six games to save themselves, Steve Kean’s struggling side are desperate for points. Unfortunately for Rovers, their upcoming opponents are also in dire need of a win.

Liverpool have won just one of their previous nine top-flight fixtures, a run which has seen them slip down into eighth spot. Worse still, there are just three points separating the Merseysiders and twelfth-place Norwich. A defeat on Tuesday night could see Dalglish’s side drop even further down the table and given the lavish purchases made by the Reds last summer, struggling to finish in the top-ten would be embarrassing.

However, there is hope for Rovers. The visitors are likely to have one eye on the upcoming FA Cup semi-final against rivals Everton and Kean’s men must be prepared to take full advantage of that. In addition to this, Liverpool will also be without first-choice goalkeeper Jose Reina, who is suspended. The odds may be stacked firmly against Rovers, but they have a reasonable chance of causing an upset on Tuesday.

Kean is once again likely to pick from the dozen or so players he appears to have most confidence in, meaning the likes of Yakubu and Junior Hoilett will be expected to start. While Yakubu has not been performing to the highest standards of late, the duo are capable of troubling a Liverpool defence which has been leaking goals in 2012. A similar performance and result to the one Rovers achieved over the Reds at Ewood Park last season would come as a big boost to the hosts.

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