When it was announced that Venky’s, an indian company specializing in chicken processing, had bought Blackburn, numerous atrocious puns about ‘falling fowl’ began circulating. When one of the club’s new owners claimed to have never seen a football game, many began to speculate that Blackburn could be in serious trouble.
The subsequent dismissal of manager Sam Allardyce, a consistent if not spectacular tactician, seemed an ill advised decision when you consider his replacement was his assistant manager Steve Kean. Despite appointing ‘advisors’ those in charge at Blackburn consistently made eyebrow raising remarks regarding their expectations for the team and the financial investment they were willing to make.
Things took a turn for the surreal when it was reported Ronaldinho was a transfer target and that the club had submitted an offer to AC Milan rumored to be around €8m. Fast forward to February 1 and Blackburn have actually made some strong moves in the window.
Bringing back fan favorite Roque Santa Cruz, albeit on loan, gives a much needed boost in attack. Jermaine Jones, another temporary signing, will give Steve Kean steel in midfield and should compliment fellow new boy Argentine playmaker Mauro Formica well. The latter at 22 years old represents a vision for the future, something that was built on with the signing of Ruben Rochina from Barcelona on a four year deal.
Only one player left the club and that was the ever controversial El Hadji Diouf. The Senegalese forward joined Rangers on loan and left on a sour note. After berating QPR’s Jamie Mackie as he lay on the floor with a broken leg following a tackle with Gael Givet, Neil Warnock branded Diouf ‘worse than a sewer rat’.
All in all the month represented quite a contrast to the cataclysmic self implosion many had expected at Ewood Park. Results on the pitch have been mixed. An impressive 2-0 win over West Brom was followed up by a narrow midweek home loss to Tottenham after a Peter Crouch header inside five minutes.
On top of a good January transfer window the club have negotiated a contract extension with giant defender Christopher Samba, a player who had previously expressed his desire to leave. The next real test for those at Venky’s will be the summer transfer window. Claims they want the club to finish in the top five will require heavy investment in the playing staff. Even then that does not guarantee success.
Should they wish to be more frugal and adopt an Arsenal like approach of bringing through young players then they will require the patience Arsene Wenger showed. Even then, during his early days, Wenger bought for both the present and the future. In truth a mixed approach may be what’s best suited for a club like Blackburn. They just need look at Chelsea’s emerging youth policy to see why extensive spending is never sustainable, even more so with the new financial fair play rules.
It’s also likely that many of the clubs fans will be slightly cautious about a money heavy approach. After all they saw a similar mantra in the early 90’s. Whilst they did win a Premier League title in 1994-1995 that was contrasted with relegation under Roy Hodgson and then Brian Kidd in 1999. Either way the foundations of Blackburn look positive, whether that is maintained is difficult to determine but it should make for interesting viewing.