Premier League Team Preview: Blackburn Rovers

SB Nation Soccer is running a series of season previews for Premier League sides written by our various bloggers. Gene Um, of the Busby Babe, takes on Blackburn Rovers.

Gone are the Sam Allardyce tactics of punting the ball forward and physicality being emphasized, as are the days of Blackburn Rovers only being owned by those from the British Isles. In their place is Steve Kean's desire to play fluid football by keeping the ball on the deck and the grand ambitions of the Venky's, the Lancashire club's new owners from India. Or at least that is what the club would have you believe.

During the current summer transfer window, Blackburn supporters have seen the promising Phil Jones sold to Manchester United, Jermaine Jones return back to Schalke '04, and likely departure of Nikola Kalinic to Dnipro in Ukraine. Despite the occasional outlandish rumor that the likes of Kaka, Ronaldinho, and David Beckham might be interested in donning the Blackburn blue and white shirt, the club has only brought in striker David Goodwillie from Dundee United and is reported to be on the verge of signing midfielder Radosav Petrovic from Partizan Belgrade. When combined with the January signings of Mauro Formica from Newell's Old Boys and Ruben Rochina from the Barcelona B side, the short reign of the Venky's has hardly been inspiring. Perhaps this all seems even more absurd when Kean publicly claims, right after selling their most promising young player in quite some time, that the club can deliver European football within three or four years. The signing of the young players being brought in can be seen as promising and prudent, but the clubs opens itself up for criticism by such improbable and public claims.

There are some positives for Blackburn supporters. As the club was involved in a fierce battle to avoid relegation last season, the players rallied around Kean to go unbeaten in their final four matches. The foundation pieces may even be there for a surprise run to the top half of the table - another goal that Kean has publicly stated would be tangible evidence of progress.

Paul Robinson provides quality in goal, and despite the loss of Jones, the back four of Christopher Samba, Ryan Nelsen, Michel Salgado, and Gael Givet appear to be a solid unit. Samba in particular, if he is not sold to Arsenal FC or Tottenham Hotspur during the current transfer window, provides Blackburn one of the outstanding center-backs in the Premier League.

In Kean's 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 shape, Steven Nzonzi has shown promise while shielding the defense as his side's deepest-lying midfielder. Brett Emerton provides a competent partner in the center of the park. In the attack, David Hoilett and Martin Olsson provide pace and excitement on the right and left flanks, respectively. In the central attacking midfielder role, the manager has the experienced option of Morten Gamst Pederson. However, maybe the youngsters Formica or Rochina will get the opportunity to provide the spark and creativity in attack - with the former receiving praise for an impressive pre-season thus far. Up front, Jason Roberts is the most likely option but newcomer Goodwillie will surely get the opportunity to see if he can provide more influence.

With the money received from their summer sales, and with minimal resources having been used thus far in their acquisitions, the Venky's and Kean still have time to supplement a side that appears to have a solid foundation. While the criticism aimed at the Venky's and Kean for their seemingly long-shot aspirations may be justified due to their current inactivity in improving the club, spending the Jones money on a proven goal-scorer, another center-back to provide cover for an aging Nelsen and a possibly departing Samba, and another influential player in the center of the pitch could potentially be enough for a surprise run to the top half of the table. QPR's reported £1.25-million acquisition of former Blackpool striker DJ Campbell may be the sort of buy that Blackburn should be looking for.

The last time the Lancashire club shocked England, it was during the provincial's sides inspired run to the title in 1995 - allowing them to join only Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal as the only clubs to have won the Premier League since it's inception in 1992. This achievement took the bold buys of Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton to happen. Will the Venky's be brave and bold or will they eventually be chicken and fly the coup if Blackburn fail to succeed? Yes, that was a horrendous joke.

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