The Three Transfers Road to Improvement: Blackburn
In the 15th part of my "Three Transfers" series, I look at Blackburn Rovers, a team that started the season with the hapless Paul Ince, but managed to turn their season around with the appointment of Sam Allardyce as manager.
With Sam Allardyce at the helm, Blackburn fans should not have to worry much about relegation.
He managed to keep Bolton in the top half of the table for a long period of time, and I think that goes to show his managerial ability, considering Bolton offered him very limited resources to work with.
With Blackburn, I reckon Big Sam's initial aim will be to ensure that they do not get sucked into the relegation battle at any point of time during the season.
If that is the case, then the squad definitely requires strengthening in a few areas, and they might consider the following players.
A number of players have been used in this position this season, namely Andre Ooijer, Danny Simpson, Zurab Khizanishvili, and even Keith Andrews.
Of those four names, only two (Ooijer and Simpson) can claim to be specialist right-backs, and both will not be at Ewood Park this season.
Ooijer has confirmed he will be heading back to PSV Eindhoven, while Simpson will return to Manchester United, his parent club.
Brett Emerton, the Australian midfielder, has shown that he can do very well in the right-back position, but his high energy is better utilized in midfield. Even if Allardyce does play him on the right side of defence, a right-back is still a highly necessary signing for them, given their lack of personnel who can play there.
As such, I would suggest that Blackburn make a new right-back their number one priority this summer. They should look no further than to Habib Beye, the Senegalese international from Newcastle.
Solid in the tackle, and a decent option on the counter-attack, Beye would be the perfect answer for Blackburn's right-back woes.
Besides, with Newcastle recently being relegated, Beye would probably be available on a cut-price deal, as the Magpies need to sell their players to stay afloat.
Alternatively, Blackburn could try to go after Alan Hutton.
The Tottenham man is one of 87 right-backs at White Hart Lane, and might be allowed to go if the price is right.
Strong on the ball, and in the challenge, Hutton would also be a good addition to Ewood Park.
However, the drawback is that he is not quite as good when it comes to counter-attacking, and he would also definitely cost more than Beye.
With Roque Santa Cruz now at The City of Manchester Stadium, Blackburn will find themselves short of striking options in the coming season.
Their situation is made worse by Matt Derbyshire's desire to stay in Greece, where he has had a good spell on loan at Olympiakos.
As such, signing a striker should also be a priority for Sam Allardyce, and I think the ideal replacement for Santa Cruz would be Nikola Zigic.
Standing at 2.02m tall, Zigic is tailor-made for Sam Allardyce's long-ball style of play.
With Blackburn lacking in creativity in the middle of the park, Zigic's height would serve as an outlet for the rest of the team to punt long balls to, much like what they attempted to do with Christopher Samba at the tail-end of the season. Of course, Samba is no striker, so that was more of a failure than a success.
Zigic is surplus to requirements at Valencia, and with the club in some serious financial trouble, Allardyce certainly has the funds to prise him away from the Mestalla.
An alternative for Allardyce to consider would be Jo.
A reject at Manchester City, the Brazilian has shown in his loan spell at Everton that he still has what it takes to be a success in the Premiership.
Not only is he decent in the air, he is also quite a skillful player, and would be an asset to any team.
With the money from Roque Santa Cruz's move to Manchester City, Blackburn should be able to afford Jo.
Blackburn currently boast one of the most intimidating central defensive partnerships in the Premier League, with Ryan Nelsen partnering Christopher Samba.
However, I still believe that this department requires one more central defender, as there is little cover beyond Nelsen and Samba.
Andre Ooijer and Aaron Mokoena have left, and they have been used as emergency cover in the past.
Zurab Khizanishvili has shown time and again that he is not good enough for the English Premier League, and as such, I think Blackburn should try to sign David Wheater from Middlesbrough.
A tall and imposing defender, Wheater was one of the shining lights in Boro's otherwise rather gloomy season.
A solid defender who never shies away from a challenge, Wheater is one of those defenders you wouldn't mind trusting your life with, and is probably exactly the type of defender Sam Allardyce loves.
With his addition, Allardyce would then have three quality central defenders, to cover for injuries and suspensions. Also, with Nelsen turning 32 this year, Wheater can be groomed as the long-term replacement for him.
Middlesbrough, like Newcastle, have to sell their prized assets to keep afloat, and despite insisting that they will not sell Wheater, they might find it hard to keep him if big offers come in.
If the Wheater deal does not materialise, then Allardyce could try to go after Nedum Onuoha from Manchester City.
Boasting superb pace and strength, Onuoha's athleticism would be a good complement for either Nelsen or Samba, as their only weakness is a lack of speed to deal with forwards who run at them.
Also, Onuoha's versatility means he can also be used as cover for the right-back position.
With the new signings starting to pile in at the City of Manchester Stadium, Mark Hughes might allow Onuoha to leave for a reasonable fee.
So that's it—those are my recommended signings for Blackburn for next season. If they manage to get half of the targets listed above, relegation fears will not even enter the heads of the Ewood Park faithful.
This article and more can also be found at thetipsters, a website set up by my friend Roland and I.
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