🕵️‍♂️ Football League Focus: Blackburn Rovers

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OneFootball

Alex Mott

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Welcome to our latest series here at OneFootball where we’re shining a light on one Football League club each week.

It’s our chance to go in-depth on sides that don’t normally attract our attention and hold up a magnifying glass to the plethora of brilliant stories outside the Premier League.

So far we have looked at:

This week it’s the turn of one of English football’s most-storied clubs, a founding member of the Football League and the Premier League, but one whose fortunes have deserted them in recent years.


Can you tell me a bit about the club?

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One of the game’s originals, Blackburn Rovers grew from a meeting at the Leger Hotel to become a behemoth in the late 19th century.

A side who specialised in FA Cup success, Rovers went into Division Three oblivion post-War before re-emerging in the 1990s under local business and benefactor Jack Walker.

Walker was a boyhood Rovers fan who, as the owner of Walkersteel, amassed a personal fortune of over £600m by 1990.

And what would any diehard fan of a club want to do once their stinking rich? Buy it, of course. Which is exactly what Walker did in 1991, telling a documentary crew at the time: “I’m only interested in putting Rovers where they should be. Blackburn Rovers is one of the greatest football teams in England. They are one of the founder members and we want them right back on top.”

Within two years of his ownership Walker had spent £25m on new players, including breaking the British transfer record twice – first to buy Alan Shearer from Southampton and then Chris Sutton from Norwich.

But it was the hiring of manager Kenny Dalglish that was the true piece of inspiration, as the former Liverpool great melded these stars together and took them past a dominant Manchester United side to win the 1994/95 Premier League title.

Boy’s own stuff.


Who are the club legends?

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Jack Walker was a local boy made good who eventually poured millions into the club and achieved his ultimate dream of winning the Premier League

Alan Shearer was the spearhead of the side that won the top prize in 1994/95 and eventually scored 112 goals in just 138 games.

Bob Crompton had a 45-year association with Blackburn, playing 530 times a player and winning the FA Cup as a manager.


What about the current squad? Any players to look out for?

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Adam Armstrong has been this season’s most impressive performer for Rovers, playing the most minutes of anyone for Tony Mowbray’s side and scoring four times as many goals as anyone else in the squad.

The 24-year-old is their only reliable source of goals having netted 20 times in just 32 appearances.

The creativity though, comes from a 17-year-old who is lighting up the division and has star quality even at such a young age.

That’s Harvey Elliott, a loan signing from Liverpool, who has gone straight into the Blackburn side this term and an astonishingly high level.


Is the manager any good?

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The longest-serving manager in the Championship, Tony Mowbray has been a steady hand on the tiller after the early, chaotic years of the Venky’s ownership.

It’s been four years since the former West Brom man took over and although Blackburn have never really threatened to claim a play-off place in that time, Mowbray has helped re-establish the Ewood Park outfit as one who are solidly second tier.

The trick now is to try and push on to bigger and better things. It feels like a crossroads is coming.


Finally, how are things looking this season?

It looked like Rovers might finally be making a push for the play-offs around January time after a run of brilliant results took them up to eighth.

However a run of four straight defeats means Mowbray’s men are now back down to 12th and seem set to stay in mid-table safety for the rest of the campaign.

There have been ups, there have been downs, but that is usually the Blackburn way.