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Blackburn Rovers supremo Sam Allardyce will once more be reliant on his defence, goalkeeper Paul Robinson and club captain and vice-captain respectively, Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen for EPL survival.
Controversial striker El-Hadj Diouf will need to form an attacking bond with namesake Mame Biram Diouf, on-loan from Manchester United. While Rovers fans will also be hoping that Croatian frontman Nikola Kalinic will begin to fulfil the potential he showed in tantalising glimpses last season.
The versatility of Norwegian midfielder Morten Gamst Pedersen, alongside David Dunn will also be vital.
Indian businessmen Ahsan Ali Syed followed compatriot Saurin Shah in expressing a firm interest in a Rovers’ buy-out, with the current board, led by chairman John Williams, mindful of the need for investment in the club to maintain it as an established force in the EPL.
Syed was widely considered the favourite to complete a takeover when the season started but no deal was forthcoming in time for any significant summer transfer window dealings, with the only permanent arrival being Zimbabwe striker Benjani from big-spending Manchester City.
So “Big” Sam Allardyce will have to work his managerial magic once more and again make Rovers the difficult team to beat they have been for a number of seasons.
History Of Blackburn Rovers
Former in 1875, Blackburn Rovers are one of the founder members of the Football League back in 1888. The Rovers were one of the most successful teams to have played in the FA Cup soon after its formation, winning five trophies in its first 15 years before winning a sixth later on in 1928.
Blackburn were crowned the league champions twice in 1911/12 and two years later in 1913/14. The Rovers were a force to be reckoned with in its early years but following their FA Cup triumph in 1928, the club's fortunes began to decline.
Blackburn were frequently seen outside the top division and made very few inroads into clinching a major success, until 1960 when they reached the F.A. Cup final, only to be soundly beaten by Wolverhampton 3-0. Luck was not shining on the Lancashire side that day, when they lost full-back Dave Whelan to a broken leg. Substitutes were not around at this stage, and Blackburn had to see the whole second half out with 10 men.
During the 1970's, Blackburn had slipped down into the Third division for the first time. They spent five seasons down there, in two separate spells, before they bounced back once and for all in 1979/80. They have not been outside of the top two divisions since.
Towards the end of the 80's, Blackburn were back pushing for a place in the top division, and sadly lost out in the play-offs in both the 1988/89 and 1989/90 seasons.
The next season proved a blip, but then a man named Jack Walker, a local steel baron, took over the club, and in the years that followed, he invested millions of pounds in the club to get them back to the upper echelons of English football.
He brought in former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, and promotion seemed a formality, until a six game losing streak dropped Rovers into the play-off positions once again. This time, however, it was a different story, and they clinched promotion to the newly named 'Premiership' with a 1-0 Wembley victory over Leicester City, thanks to a Mike Newell penalty.
In the summer of 1992, Blackburn broke the English transfer record when they brought in a Geordie by the name of Alan Shearer from Southampton for £3.5m. A couple of years later, they were to break the record again, paying £5m to link Norwich City's Chris Sutton with Shearer, in a strikeforce that was to cause insurmountable problems to Premiership defences.
In 1993/94, Jack Walker's spending along with Dalglish's knowhow was beginning to reap dividends. They finished second only to Manchester United, and the following season went one better, to win the title.
It came down to the last day of the season, and Blackburn so nearly threw it all away. They lost 2-1 to Liverpool, but received a reprieve when Manchester United failed to win at West Ham, and Rovers were champions of England. Walker's revolution was complete.
Kenny Dalglish moved upstairs at the end of the victorious campaign, and Blackburn have since not finished in the top 5.
Alan Shearer was sold to his boyhood team Newcastle United for £15m and in 1998/99 Blackburn were relegated. They came back up as runners-up in 2000/01, and have remained in the Premiership since, also qualifying for the UEFA Cup for three campaigns in the 2000's. Sadly, Jack Walker was not around to witness the success, he had passed away in 2000 due to cancer.
One of the European campaigns came courtesy of a League Cup final victory in 2002, led by manager Graeme Souness, they beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1, with goals from Andy Cole and Matt Jansen.
Souness left not long after to take over at Newcastle, and Blackburn appointed Wales manager and former player Mark Hughes as their new man in charge in 2004. Hughes led Blackburn to a 15th placed finish in his first season with the club boasting one of the best defensive record that season. This was largely helped following the arrivals of Ryan Nelsen and Aaron Mokoena in the January transfer window.
Hughes further strengthened the team next season, including the arrival of Craig Bellamy, and Blackburn had one of their most successful seasons in recent years, finishing sixth in the league table and booking a place in the UEFA Cup.
After a successful season with Blackburn, Bellamy was sold to Liverpool and Hughes bought Benni McCarthy from Porto. Blackburn finished 10th in the Premier League during the 2006-07 season but qualified to the UEFA Cup next season through the Intertoto Cup.
Hughes guided the team to seventh in the EPL in 2007/08 before being head-hunted by Manchester City. The appointment of Paul Ince as Hughes’ replacement was seen as a bold experiment with new young English talent. But it was a failed experiment and Sam Allardyce was brought in before Rovers got too heavily embroiled in a relegation battle.
They eventually finished 15th and Allardyce brought in a creditable tenth place last season. Whether he can fashion another improvement without significant addition to his squad will be a source of fascination to observers.
And you can see every moment of it here with us on the Live Sport Network.
Tags: Blackburn live, Blackburn Rovers, Sam Allardyce, Paul Robinson, El-Hadj Diouf, Morten Gamst Pedersen, David Dunn, Blackburn, Ewood Park, EPL, Benjani, FA Cup, Premiership, Kenny Dalglish, UEFA Cup, League Cup, Intertoto Cup, Paul Ince, Live Sport Network