Premiership Season Preview 2006/07 – Blackburn Rovers

Premiership Season Preview 2006/07 – Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn Rovers

Odds: 350/1

Last Five Seasons

2005/06 – 6 (Premiership), 2004/05 – 15 (Premiership), 2003/04 – 15 (Premiership), 03/03/2002 (Premiership), 10/02/2001 (Premiership).

2005/06 Cup Progress

FA Cup Fourth Round vs West Ham United (a) – lost 4-2.

Carling Cup Semi Finals vs Manchester United – lost 3-2 on aggregate.

Top Goal Scorer 2005/06: Craig Bellamy (striker) – 17 goals.

Players In

Benni McCarthy (FC Porto – £ 2,500,000), Jason Roberts (Wigan Athletic – Undisclosed), Zura Khizanishvili (Rangers – Free), Francis Jeffers (Charlton Athletic – Free), Jason Brown (Gillingham – Free).

Players Out

Craig Bellamy (Liverpool – £ 6,000,000), Paul Dickov (Manchester City – Free), Gary Harkins (Grimsby Town – Free), Lorenzo Amoruso (Released), Vratislav Gresko (Released), Steven Drench (Released).

Blackburn Rovers were the Premier League's surprise package last season by securing a sixth placed finish following two seasons just above the relegation zone. Mark Hughes transformed the underachieving former champions and got the best out of bad boy Craig Bellamy, who finished the season as the club's top goal scorer.

Bellamy's outstanding form did not go unnoticed and Liverpool snapped him up for a bargain £ 6 million but Hughes has been quick to sign replacement attacking options. Porto striker Benni McCarthy arrived for an undisclosed fee believed to be £ 2.5 million. The South Africa international was art of the Porto side that won the Champions League in 2004 and signed a four year contract at Ewood Park. McCarthy has won 60 caps for South Africa and has scored 26 goals. He retired from international football after the World Cup in 2002 but reversed his decision two years later.

Wigan Athletic striker Jason Roberts also signed a four year deal, again for an undisclosed fee. Roberts was Wigan's top scorer last season with 14 goals and Hughes swooped after he turned down a new contract to extend his stay with the Latics.

Francis Jeffers completed a hat-trick of new strikers arriving at the club this summer, with the former Everton and Arsenal forward joining on a free transfer from Charlton Athletic. Hughes has also been linked with Nicolas Anelka, who has Premiership experience with Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City and Mido, who spent 18 months on loan at Tottenham Hotspur from Serie A side AS Roma.

Verdict

Blackburn's involvement in the UEFA Cup next season will add strain to Mark Hughes' squad which still lacks some strength in depth. It is unlikely that they will be able to recreate last season's sixth placed finish and mid table is more likely should they progress to the later stages in Europe.

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