Blackburn are a curious side – packed with talented players and a squad built on limited resources and frequently punching above its weight. While Blackburn are no challenge to the top four they are still a good side with a legitimate claim to a European place.
However, this season will be critical for Mark Hughes and Blackburn – can Blackburn cement their position as a regular top-10 side or will they be overtaken by the big-spending likes of Newcastle, West Ham and Sunderland?
Another headache for Hughes will be keeping his star players on board – and it is to his credit that Pedersen and Bentley are still at Blackburn.
It’s a tough situation for Hughes – if Blackburn do well his players will be approached by other clubs, and if Blackburn do bad the players themselves may be itching to leave.
So far though, Blackburn and Mark Hughes have done a good job, and all signs point to another successful season, IF they can sign a couple of more players and negotiate the early tough fixtures safely.
Manager Status: Mark Hughes has done admirably well considering the limited resources at his disposal, and he’s not afraid to have his side play hard when needed. His place is secure this season, but could he be poached by a ‘bigger’ club?
Transfer Analysis: Roque Santa Cruz will bring in a lot of experience from his time at Bayern Munich, but overall Blackburn need a couple of more players, especially in midfield.
Players to watch: David Bentley needs to justify the hype (and his withdrawal from the U-21 squad), and with a spot on the Euro 2008 squad up for grabs he could very well fulfill his promise. Matt Derbyshire could surprise us, but my money would be on McCarthy and Santa Cruz to bag most of the goals this season.
August Fixtures: Blackburn play away to Middlesbrough, home to Arsenal and then away to Everton. In between, there’s a two-legged Uefa Cup 2nd round clash with MyPa, something that Blackburn should negotiate with relative ease. The Premiership fixtures are not easy and Blackburn could come away with 0 points at the end of August, but this is a good side and you expect them to snag at least a couple of points from the 3 games.
Expectations: Blackburn, based on their past two seasons, are expected again to be challenging for a European spot. They haven’t strengthened as much as Tottenham but then neither have Bolton or Everton, and if Blackburn can bring in an experienced midfielder as backup to Tugay they would have a good shot at a 5th-8th spot.
Predictions: Mid-table (9th-15th), but with a few lucky breaks they could be in Europe again.