The 2017-18 Football League season may be several months away, but fans are already gearing up for the first weekend in August.
The off-season can be a frantic time behind the scenes at many clubs, with Ewood Park expected to be among the busiest over the coming months as Blackburn aim to bounce back at the first time of asking.
— TalkBlackburn (@TalkBlackburn) May 15, 2017
Rovers’ off-field issues have proved a major talking point over the last six years, with the former Premier League champions now set to compete in the third tier of English football. Despite impressively beating Brentford on the final day of the season, other Championship results conspired to send Tony Mowbray’s side down to League One.
A major re-build is on the cards for the historic Lancashire club, with the hefty wage bill set to be slashed yet again. TV money will be reduced and the club is reportedly £100m in debt.
They Rovers have begun their summer clear-out by releasing captain Jason Lowe, Danny Guthrie and short-term recruits such as Wes Brown, but it is merely a drop in the ocean. Championship clubs are likely to be sniffing around striker Danny Graham, who hit 13 goals in a stop-start campaign, whilst the likes of Jason Steele and Darragh Lenihan could also be the subject of numerous bids.
Tony Mowbray got the best out of the side in the final few months of the season and has plenty of success on his CV.
Fans will be pleased to see the Teessider sticking around and generally proffering positive statements about the forthcoming campaign. Despite the carnage behind the scenes, 888sport have priced Blackburn up as 7/1 favourites to top the division come May 2018.
Inside Sunday's FLP:
Blackburn Rovers boss Tony Mowbray on the requirements needed to make sure Rovers recapture their Championship status. pic.twitter.com/hfw4xkiW7q
— The Football League Paper (@TheLeaguePaper) May 12, 2017
There are plenty of other sides who look able to challenge Blackburn for the title this season. Play-Off final losers Bradford will be strong despite seemingly having their best players cherry-picked by Championship clubs.
Wigan’s appointment of Paul Cook makes them a very interesting prospect whilst Cook’s former club Portsmouth are surprisingly high in the betting.
Scunthorpe and Fleetwood will be aiming to bounce back from their playoff disappointments whilst the progressive Bristol Rovers could challenge if they can sort out their wretched away form.
Blackpool’s promotion from League Two creates a very northern-centric division next season, setting up several tasty-looking derbies for Blackburn. As well as facing former boss Gary Bowyer, Rovers embark on short trips to Wigan, Bury, Rochdale, Fleetwood and Oldham this season.
Although many of the fans have become disenchanted with the ownership of the club, it’s imperative they get behind Tony Mowbray and the players on the field this season. League One isn’t an easy division to negotiate (just ask Sheffield United!) but they have the infrastructure, the manager and the squad to bounce back.
Adding some League One experience is vital this summer as is shifting some of the high-earners who aren’t willing to battle against the elements on a windy Tuesday evening in December.
The club has made numerous mistakes over the last six years but if they can get it right this summer, justifying that 7/1 favouritism shouldn’t be a problem.