FA Cup – 3rd Round
League Cup – 5th Round
Lowly Blackburn Rovers came extremely close to being relegated from the Premier League in the 2010/11 season and that should have served as a warning to Indian owners Venky’s that all was not going to end well with unpopular manager Steve Kean in charge.
The much-maligned Scot has had an extremely tough season, with supporters regularly protesting before, during and after matches in the hope that he would be sacked. But Venky’s backed their man throughout the campaign and in the end he could only see them drop down to the Championship.
Kean made a number of signings last summer, including the likes of Radosav Petrovic, Simon Vukcevic, Yakubu, David Goodwillie, Scott Dann, Myles Anderson and Bruno Ribeiro. However, apart from Yakubu, many of the others have either made few or – somewhat bizarrely – no appearances, or have failed to impress.
Meanwhile, Kean has lost a number of his most experienced players. Not only did influential defenders Chris Samba and Ryan Nelsen leave at the turn of the year, but Jason Roberts was also allowed to go and Michel Salgado has been marginalised, with the Spaniard blaming contractual reasons for his lack of playing action. As a consequence, Rovers have been heavily reliant on younger players to see them through, and while the likes of Jason Lowe and Grant Hanley have been somewhat impressive, even they have been unable to rescue Rovers’ slide.
The Lancashire outfit were relatively strong in the attacking departments throughout the season, with Yakubu in particular scoring regularly to give his side both a hope of winning games and also a hope of staying up. In-demand Canadian winger Junior Hoilett also impressed, while Argentine midfielder Mauro Formica managed to chip in with a few goals. In the end, Rovers scored 48 goals, with Norwich City the only team in the bottom half to have found the net more often.
But the Ewood Park side shipped a huge number of goals during the campaign and this eventually led to their downfall. Kean’s side conceded 78 goals in total – only bottom team Wolves let in more. It took Rovers until March before they kept their first clean sheet – a case of too little, too late.
It has been a woeful season for Blackburn, with many supporters angry at how the club is being run. The protests are likely to continue into the next campaign, particularly when some of Rovers’ star players – such as Hoilett and possibly Gael Givet, Steven N’Zonzi and Yakubu – begin to leave and the impact of dropping down a division for the first time in over a decade begins to hit home.
Manager – Steve Kean: The unpopular Scot has remained positive throughout the season, but in the end he has not surprised many fans by taking Rovers down to the Championship. Kean has been in discussions with the club’s owners in India over the last couple of days, but if he is not shown the door then Venky’s should expect further protests.
Player of the season – Yakubu: The Nigerian reportedly cost Rovers just £1.5m when he was signed from Everton last summer and he has been Blackburn’s only real shining light this season, racking up a superb 17 Premier League goals. Other top-flight teams may be interested in taking Yakubu from relegated Rovers.
Turning point – Bolton 2-1 Blackburn: Prior to this fixture, Rovers had won consecutive games for the first time under Kean. They were sitting in 16th place and a win would have pulled them further away from the drop-zone. Instead, they were defeated – a result which sparked a run of eight losses in nine games and killed their hopes of survival.