While you feel no one of a Blackburn Rovers persuasion will want to admit it, this season is one that simply hasn’t gone how Danny Graham would have hoped, or indeed expected it to.
Having fired home 15 league goals last season – the club’s joint-highest for the campaign – and provided four assists, Graham played a key role in helping Rovers to quickly re-establish themselves in the Championship after a year in League One, deservedly earning himself the club’s Player of the Year award in the process.
But while those performances across the course of the 2018/19 campaign suggested that Graham still had a big part to play in Rovers’ cause well into his thirties, this season, things sadly haven’t seen the unerringly popular striker make quite the same impact at Ewood Park.
Throughout the course of the campaign so far, Graham has managed to find the net on just three occasions, while also failing to provide a single assist in the league as Tony Mowbray’s side give chase in the race for a play-off spot.
Indeed, with that somewhat underwhelming goal and assists return coming from a total of 30 league appearances this season – 11 of which have been from the start – it could be argued that Graham’s influence on Rovers’ performances is starting to wane.
As a result, with the striker now 34-years-old and his current contract with Blackburn set to expire at the end of this season, it may seem as though the striker’s largely successful time at Ewood Park – which also saw him named in the League One Team of the Year during that campaign in the third-tier – could soon be coming to an end.
However, there may yet be one man, who could make an extended stay at Ewood Park for Graham, seem like a sensible thing for Rovers to look into.
Ever since his arrival at Ewood Park back in the summer of 2017, Bradley Dack has seemingly been in something of a mini competition with Danny Graham when it comes to their goalscoring records.
Dack’s first season at the club – that League One promotion campaign – saw him net 18 goals in all competitions in comparison to Graham’s 17, while last season the duo both found the net 15 times in the league – between them accounting for just under half of the club’s 64 Championship goals – with Dack this time winning out 18-16 in all competitions in the race for the club’s Golden Boot that year.
Indeed, with all four of the assists provided by Graham last season coming for goals scored by Dack, there can be no doubt that these two are a pair who can bring the very best out of each other when it really matters for Rovers.
As a result, with Dack looking likely to be out of action until the start of next season, it may not be a bad idea for the club to keep Graham for that campaign at the very least, since getting their talisman fit and firing again could be crucial to their hopes for that season, something which the veteran striker certainly seems to know how to do, and not just on the pitch.
By all accounts, Dack and Graham are – perhaps not surprisingly given their reputation and experience – two rather vocal figures behind the scenes in the dressing room and around the club’s Brockhall training ground, meaning it could be just as sensible to keep the duo together from an off the pitch perspective, considering the lift they have the ability to give those around at times when it may be needed.
That presence of Graham away from the action is something that is perhaps as relevant now as it will ever be for Rovers, with Dack continuing his long road to recovery following that injury, something he will want as much help and motivation with as possible, with Rovers themselves no doubt desperate to see him back on the pitch – perhaps re-establishing that old partnership with Graham – as soon as he can.
As a result, it seems there is a strong case to be made for Blackburn to offer a new deal to Graham, given his importance to the club from both a playing and non-playing perspective extends beyond his own direct contribution to the club.
Given the impact and impression that he has made at Ewood Park ever since his arrival at the club back in January 2016, it is hard to see there being too many – if any – of a Blackburn persuasion, who would be disappointed with such an outcome.