How has your pre-season gone?
I’m not one for reading too much into pre-season results and performances but if I had to sum things up in one word it would be steady.
Bowyer has only tasted defeat once so far this summer and that was against Premier League opponents Everton who fielded a relatively strong side.
However performances against lower league clubs such as Crewe, Preston and Rochdale were all below par, but It was evident Bowyer’s intentions were to give as much playing time to as many players as possible.
Personally, I don’t think Bowyer knows his strongest eleven just yet and it will be interesting to see what system he adopts on Sunday when we kick start the season away at Derby County. Following the injury to DJ Campbell last week, Bowyer maybe inclined to adopt a 4-2-3-1 formation leaving Jordan Rhodes up top on his own with three attack minded midfielders providing the service behind him.
Happy with how things have shaped up in terms of transfers – both in and out?
So far so good for Bowyer in the transfer window. He is trying his best to reduce the wage bill after several years of careless transfers while at the same time attempting to build a squad capable of competing in the top half of the Championship.
Mega money signings are a thing of the past for Rovers as Bowyer comes to terms with new Financial Fair Play rules which have forced the new gaffer to delve into the free transfer market. Goalkeeper Simon Eastwood, experienced defender Matthew Kilgallon and winger Chris Taylor have all put pen-to-paper on contracts at Ewood Park joining former Blackburn Rovers youth graduates Alan Judge and Alex Marrorw who have re-joined the club to work under Gary Bowyer. Todd Kane has also returned to Ewood Park on a season-long loan deal from Chelsea after impressing last campaign.
I am particularly pleased with the capture of Chris Taylor. He has bags of potential and fills a position we desperately needed to address over the summer. Hopefully he will help provide the service Jordan Rhodes thrives off.
Terminating the contracts of Danny Murphy and Nuno Gomes, who were on staggering salaries for a Championship outfit, highlighted the club’s intentions earlier in the summer. It was exactly what the club needed to do and I don’t think there was one fan who was sad to see Danny Murphy leave. His performances last season were quite simply shambolic.
David Goodwillie and Martin Olsson have also left the club. Goodwillie has returned to Dundee United after two disappointing seasons in East Lancashire and Olsson has returned to the Premier League following a move to Norwich. Again I am not disappointed to see either leave, last season Goodwillie rarely featured in the first team and Olsson failed to reach the levels he once did earlier in his Rovers career.
We still lack creativity in the heart of midfield and it is clear Bowyer knows this is an area we need to strengthen. He has attempted to attract the services of Barry Bannan from Aston Villa, but we failed to match the midfielder’s wage demands which shows we are learning as a club not to give in to player’s demands.
Is your current manager the right man for the job?
After five different gaffers last season it is time for stability and there is no better man than Gary Bowyer. He is level headed and knows the club inside out. After last season’s heroics he is adored by fans and rightly so, but now he must build on last season’s survival and prove it was not a fluke.
Dare to dream – if everything clicked into place what’s the best you could hope for?
IF everything clicked into place and it is a huge if, then there is no reason why we cannot push for promotion. We have, arguably, the best striker in the league in Jordan Rhodes and if we can provide him with the service while keeping it tight at the back then why can’t we dream?
Back to reality – what are your realistic expectations for the new campaign?
Realistically I would be happy to finish the season with Gary Bowyer still at the helm, the team sitting comfortably in the top half of the league and Shebby Singh strolling around his local job centre having been handed his P45 by Mrs Desai.
Who will visiting scouts be keeping an eye on this season?
Obviously Jordan Rhodes is the main man at Rovers with his goal scoring record, however Grant Hanley and Adam Henley could prove to be huge players for Rovers this campaign. Both improved massively last year and the pair look set to have very bright futures ahead of them.
If you had to pick one player who’d be fit for every minute of every game who would it be?
This is a no brainer! Jordan Rhodes was sensational last season and hopefully he can reproduce the same goal scoring record this campaign. I have no doubts the lad will make it in the Premier League sometime soon with his natural eye for goal.
On the flip side (without being cruel!), who is the player with most to prove?
This may be a surprise to some Rovers fans but I would say Jason Lowe. I cannot fault his work effort and willingness to fight for the cause but sometimes I feel that is all he offers. His passing is often wayward and his positional play is questionable at times.
If you could sign any one player from any other side in the same division who would you plump for?
I’d love to see Anthony Knockaert in a Rovers shirt. His technical ability is second to none and I feel he would fit perfectly into a side which lacks creativity.
If you only win one game all season who would take three points from?
Again, another no brainer! Three points against the local rivals Burnley would be lush, while extending our unbeaten 34 year record!!