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Opinion: Blackburn Rovers are dangerously close to making same mistake that could have cost them last season

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For Blackburn Rovers, this summer transfer window window is already starting to develop a strong sense of “same again” about it.

But sadly for those of a Rovers persuasion – despite the departure of 11 senior players at the end of last season – that does not mean one signing after another.

Instead, that feeling relates to the fact that like last season, Blackburn have been far from quick when it comes to bringing signings in.

As things stand, the Ewood Park club are one of just five in the Championship who have yet to recruit a player since the start of the summer transfer window, and going off the basis of what happened last season, that has to be a concern.

Last summer, with the exception of 18-year-old attacker Tyrhys Dolan, whose breakthrough into the senior was almost as unexpected as it was welcome, Blackburn did not sign a single senior outfield player until after the start of the campaign.

Centre back Daniel Ayala was the first to join, arriving on the same night as Rovers’ League Cup defeat at Newcastle, the week after they opened the campaign with defeat at Bournemouth on the opening day of the Championship campaign.

Incidentally, that match against the Cherries was also the first match of any nature played by the club’s new first choice goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski.

After that, Blackburn had to wait until the final day of the window to bring in any more outfield players, when Leeds left-back Barry Douglas, Norwich midfielder Tom Trybull and Liverpool winger Harvey Elliott all moved to Ewood Park on season-long loan deals, by which point Tony Mowbray’s side had already played four league games.

Having brought in players with Championship promotion in pedigree in Ayala, Douglas and Trybull, as well as one of country’s most exciting young attackers in Elliott, it did look as though Rovers had put together a squad capable of challenging for a return to the Premier League.

However, that would prove to be far from the case, with Rovers eventually finishing 15th in the Championship table, 20 points adrift of the play-off places, and you feel the timing of those pieces of recruitment did not help the club in that respect.

With all four of those outfield signings having been lacking in senior game time prior to their arrivals at Ewood Park, fitness did seem to be an issue for Ayala and Trybull in particular.

The Spanish centre back featured just ten times in the league for Rovers across the course of the campaign, having not played competitively since January prior to his move to Lancashire in September.

Trybull too, was able to feature in just 25 of Blackburn’s 46 league games last season, having played just twice in the league in the calendar ahead of his arrival at Rovers around a month after Ayala.

Douglas too was not without injury issues during his stint at Ewood Park, and you have to feel that after so long without competitive football, throwing those players into competitive action without any sort of a pre-season to get themselves closer to match fitness, cannot have helped their cause.

As a result, you feel that losing those players with such experience and ability for so much of the campaign cannot have been good for Rovers promotion hopes, and you wonder how different things might have been, had the club been able to get those players, or alternative targets, in quicker, to give them a pre-season to get match fit and ready, and avoid those injuries taking such a toll.

Now, with little more than two weeks to go until the start of the new campaign, Rovers find themselves in a worryingly similar position to the one they were in in the lead-up to last season, with no new signings yet to arrive at the club.

Given finances may dictate that Rovers are forced to recruit largely from the free agent and loan markets, that could mean that they are once again players who have found themselves more out of favour recently, and therefore lacking in game time over the past few months.

That in turn, could then leave Rovers once again faced with a group of recruits who may find themselves starting a season carrying a heavy weight of expectation, without being fully ready to compete.

With three friendlies to come next week – games away to Bradford and Bolton sandwiching a visit to Ewood Park and Leeds – there is still opportunities for Rovers to get any signings they may make up to some sort of fitness, if they move quickly.

If they don’t however, then Rovers risk once again having to deal with a string of issues with regards to the fitness new recruits they might eventually bring in.

Should that happen, what already looks like being a challenging campaign in the wake of so many departures already, and the possible exit of Adam Armstrong as well, could become even harder to negotiate.


UCLan Sports Journalism graduate, been writing for Football League World since March 2019. I've previously worked for the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Opta, among others.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Opinion: Blackburn Rovers are dangerously close to making same mistake that could have cost them last season

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