Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tighter defence required at Ewood Park

Interestingly enough, Blackburn Rovers are one of the most exciting teams to have visit your ground this season, having simultaneously accrued the Premiership's 7th worst away defensive record as well as being the sixth highest scoring side from their games on the road this season. Although these stats fall in line with their new owners' demands that Blackburn play exciting football, the 31 goals that they have conceded from their thirteen games away from home have irked manager Steve Kean, who this week lamented the four goals his side shipped against relegation-battling Wigan Athletic.

Speaking after their 4-3 loss, he said: "We are scoring plenty of goals so that part of our game is not a problem. But we need to protect our back four and be a little bit less open, and that is something we will certainly be working on."

Equally interesting was the fact that Blackburn failed to sign a single defender in the recent transfer window; despite tying up contact extensions for both Christopher Samba and Michel Salgado, they only signed two midfielders – Formica and Jones – and two strikers – Santa Cruz and Rochina – in January. Could this be a sign that the Venky's Group are slightly reticent about letting an unproven manager splash serious cash before they have the chance to fully evaluate his performance over a sustained period? Pundits like Andy Gray have their doubts.

At present Blackburn are on a run which includes one win and four losses from their last five Premier League matches, and while sitting in eleventh place has given Kean's outfit the illusion of safety, they remain just five points clear of the relegation zone. With tough fixtures coming up against sides around them in the table – Newcastle at home before back-to-back away matches against Villa and Fulham – it's clear that the new owners will have a better idea of just how close Kean is to delivering on their intended ambition towards the end of the month, although the Premier League betting odds suggest they could struggle.

Kean has delivered on the first half of the Venky's Group's vision – clearly they are playing more exciting football than the side were under Sam Allardyce – but are thy any closer to qualifying for a European competition next season? Only time will tell.

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