After a frantic conclusion to the summer transfer window, with various clubs leaving their wheeling and dealing until the last minute, the door has firmly slammed shut on any transfer business until January at the earliest. Only now is it fair to judge the operations at Blackburn Rovers under the ownership of Venkys, and run the rule over the net expenditure and quality of the players heading into Ewood Park, and conversely those that have headed for the exit door.
So firstly, which players are no longer amongst the Blackburn Rovers squad? During the earlier weeks of the summer, a battle ensued as to who would secure the much sought after services of Phil Jones, with Rovers ideally holding onto a player who is held in high regard by many, including those involved in the England national team hierarchy. After a media tug-of-war between Rovers and a few interested parties, Manchester United managed to win the battle for his signature. This sale however did pump at least £16million into the Ewood Park coffers, with a further £4million earmarked if certain eventualities occur.
Neglected Croatian forward Nikola Kalinic also headed out of Ewood Park, with Dnipro parting with £6 million to land the striker, whilst Frank Fielding joined Derby County for approximately half a million pounds, meaning that Rovers managed to turnover over £22million. Other senior figures left the club due to their loan deals or permanent contracts expiring, including Jermaine Jones, Roque Santa Cruz and Benjani, whilst a few players that could easily be described as ‘deadwood’ also have gone on to seek pastures new, including Maceo Rigters, Jason Brown and Zurab Khizanishvili. Meanwhile Brett Emerton has gone home to join Sydney FC after being given special dispensation due to his loyalty and commitment shown during a lengthy spell at the club.
Of course, to compensate for these outgoing players, the club spent the summer frantically looking for the right calibre of players that could hopefully improve the squad. The eight players that have joined Blackburn Rovers are:
Scott Dann(Birmingham City) – 10/10
Dann has been linked with many prestigious clubs such as Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea, and Rovers will feel that they have really shown their intentions with the signing of the dominant centre back. The centre back was one of many players that became available following Birmingham’s relegation, and at around £6million, the club will feel they have managed to fill a huge void left by the loss of Phil Jones with an established player with plenty of ability and also room for improvement. Dann is comfortable on the ball and commanding in both penalty areas, and should strike up arguably the best central defensive partnerships outside of the top six with Chris Samba.
Bruno Ribeiro(Free Agent) – 3/10
Following a rather modest career in the murky backdrop of Brazilian football, it came as a bit of a surprise that Rovers decided to sign Bruno Ribeiro on the back of a successful trial. There will be a considerable question mark as to whether Ribeiro can adapt to the English style of play, however despite the deal seeming slightly bizarre, Ribeiro may be needed with first choice right back Michel Salgado seemingly on his last legs and alternative Brett Emerton now plying his trade down under in Sydney.
Myles Anderson(Free Agent) – 1/10
The deal that takes Myles Anderson to Ewood Park contains a rather poignant smell of a deal arranged by an agent with the intention of quick financial gain, and Anderson’s father Jerome has far from a virtuous reputation within the footballing community. Anderson has failed trials at Blackburn Rovers and even various SPL teams in the past, making the current arrangement seem all the more bizarre.
Radosav Petrovic(Partizan Belgrade) – 7/10
Already established as a regular in the Serbian national team despite his relatively tender age, Petrovic made himself a reputation as a tough tackling central midfield player who can pop up with valuable goals, both on the domestic and continental stage during his time in Belgrade. The Serb has been previously been touted with moves to various European giants, and a lot of extensive scouting and deliberation seems to have gone into what seems a bargain deal, with the only question mark being his ability to adapt to the English style of play. However it could be a difficult task to emulate the impressive performances of former loan star Jermaine Jones.
Simon Vukcevic(Sporting Lisbon) – 8/10
Vukcevic is a naturally gifted and talented playmaker that could really flourish and turn into a bargain at £2million, dependant on the midfielder’s work-rate and commitment. The Montenegrin main-stay has bags of ability and creativity that could prove to be a crucial weapon within the Rovers armoury, however he has also fallen out with managers at previous clubs and it may be difficult for Steve Kean to control such a complex character.
Yakubu(Everton) – 6/10
A deal that really could go either way, Yakubu has proven himself to be a clinical finisher during his lengthy stay in England, however the Nigerian can also be accused of being lazy and enigmatic and it may be that the bulky striker turns into a bargain at approximately £1.5million, or a flop on a high salary that fails to provide the goals. One thing that also should be noted is the fact that Yakubu may well be considered first choice striker, and supporters could be forgiven for being slightly under-whelmed at the result of a summer-long search for a first-choice goal-getter.
David Goodwillie(Dundee United) – 7/10
Rovers managed to beat off competition from numerous clubs, most notably Rangers to sign the young Scottish forward for a fee believed to be in the region of £2million. Goodwillie will be confident about his chances of success after winning the Scottish Young Player of the Year award, and the busy livewire has already made an impression with the supporters during his brief cameos. However Goodwillie will be eager to ignore off-the-field issues that riddled his time in Scotland, including a court case which may threaten to de-rail his progress.
Jordan Slew(Sheffield United) – 6/10
Part of a successful youth team at Brammall Lane, Rovers will believe they have picked up an excellent prospect in Slew, who is rumoured to have signed for around £1million. The forward has already made an impact in the Sheffield United first team, whilst his caps for the England under 19’s will only further enhance his reputation.
Overall, the deals for Vukcevic, Petrovic and Dann in particular seem to be signs that Rovers have been shrewd and intelligent in the transfer market this summer, especially on the back of what seemed to be a disheartening blow in the loss of potential future England star Phil Jones. There could be qualms however with the lack of a prolific, first choice goal-scorer following a summer-long search, whilst certain areas such as right back and defensive midfield seem particularly vulnerable in terms of a lack of real depth.
Although the business seems to be intelligent work in the main, it must not be forgotten that the club has actually made a profit of over £7 million in terms of transfer fees. This will do little to ease fears of some supporters that Venky’s lack sufficient funding, or even are involved to simply ‘make a quick buck.’
After concluding these summer deals, it could be argued that Blackburn Rovers’ strongest starting line-up would be:
Salgado Dann Samba Olsson
Hoilett Formica Vukcevic