Soccernet's Blackburn Rovers Page | Full squad | Fixture list
|Last Season - European qualification||Position: 6th|
Graham Souness was keen to build on Rovers' League Cup success and mid-table finish in their first season back in the top flight, and with the additions of Dwight Yorke, David Thompson and Vratislav Gresko they did just that in the 2002/03 season. They probably even exceeded expectations by grabbing sixth place and UEFA Cup spot. American Brad Friedel emerged as arguably the best goalkeeper in the Premiership as his heriocs helped the Rovers bag memorable wins over Newcastle, Arsenal and Manchester United. Blackburn played some excellent, physical football throughout the campaign and signed off with a 4-0 defeat of Tottenham, on their turf, to secure European football. Rovers insisted their UEFA Cup campaign was a mere sideline, but it was a good income stream after the showdown with Celtic.
|Transfers - In and Out|
Barry Ferguson (Rangers) - £6.5m
Brett Emerton (Feyenoord) - £2.5m
Steven Reid (Millwall) - £1.8m
Lorenzo Amoruso (Rangers) - £1.4m
Vratislav Gresko (Parma) - £1.2m
David Yelldell (Stuttgart) - £100,000
Markus Babbel (Liverpool) - Loan
Dino Baggio (Lazio) - Loan
Damien Duff (Chelsea) - £17m
David Dunn (Birmingham) - £5.5m
Henning Berg (Rangers) - Free
Jim Corbett (Southend) - Free
John Curtis (Leicester) - Free
Keith Gillespie (Leicester) - Free
Gordon Greer (Kilmarnock) - Free
Craig Hignett (Leicester) - Free
Egil Ostenstad (Rangers) - Free
Marc Richards (Northampton) - Free
Ryan Robinson (Southend) - Free
Hakan Sukur (Galatasaray) - Free
Neil Danns (Blackpool) - Loan
Jonathan Douglas (Blackpool) - Loan
Alan Mahon (Ipswich) - Loan
Andy Todd (Burnley) - Loan
|First Choice XI|
|The Gaffer - Graham Souness|
Graeme Souness began his much-travelled managerial career north of the border with Rangers as player-boss and had immediate success, picking up three Championships and four League Cups. In 1991 the call came from Liverpool, where he had enjoyed five impressive years as a player, and he moved down to Anfield. He struggled to win over the fans and only managed to pick up one trophy, the FA Cup in 1992. Souness had a major heart-bypass operation during his time on Merseyside, but defied the odds to return to top-flight management. Spells with Galatasaray, Torino, Benfica and Southampton followed before he accepted the manager's post at Ewood Park in March 2000. Souness took Blackburn back into the top flight at the first attempt, lifted the League Cup the following season and qualified for the UEFA Cup with a sixth placed finish in 2002/03. As a no-nonsense manager who is not afraid to speak his mind, Souness has won great plaudits but last term some of his players - including transfer victims David Dunn and Keith Gillespie - took acception to his manner, with the latter publicly berating the Scot. However, his results speak for themselves.
|Player to Watch - Brett Emerton|
This former Oceania Player of the Year had been linked with a move to the Premiership for over a year before finally making the move from 2002 UEFA Cup winners Feyenoord, after three years at the club. Newcastle had been closest to signing the Australian international but he now has the respobsibilty of filling the creative gap left by the departures of David Dunn and Keith Gillespie at Rovers. The 24-year-old is a versatile player who can play at right-back or as an attacking winger and is renouned for his quality passing and crossing ability. At his best when bombing forward, Brett Emerton scored a superb solo effort in pre-season and he will be hoping to take that form into the new campaign as Rovers look to better last term's efforts.
|Young Gun - James McEveley|
Young defender James McEveley progressed through the ranks at Blackburn after failing to make the grade at Everton to make his debut as a substitute in the Worthington Cup last season, just four days after his 17th birthday. After finding his feet in a few cup games, defensive frailties gifted the youngster a stint in the first team during the Christmas/New year period and he looked impressive at both centre-back and left-back. The versatile Liverpool-born player could be the reason the club have dispensed with defender John Curtis and after playing a large role in Rovers' pre-season preperations he is expected to continue his develpoment during the 2003/04 season. He is already an England Under-21 international.
|From the terraces|
I think Rovers fans are quietly confident about next season, despite losing some of our biggest names over the summer. We've brought quality players in and Graeme Souness has a good track record with signings at this club, so I'm looking forward to seeing where Amorouso and Emerton can take us.
Our strengths should be in defence (and Brad Friedel) and team spirit. I worry that our strike force will let us down, though. Jay McEveley is going to be a name to watch out for.
By Tim, from Rovers Mad.
Qualification for Europe on the last day of the season raised the hopes of Rovers fans for the new campaign. Since then the sale of Dunn and Duff has slightly dampened the enthusiasm. New signings in defence and midfield might just cover those losses.
Up front we have problems. Cole and Yorke have failed to deliver and with little options in attack it could be a quick exit from Europe and mid table obscurity.
By Ian Ferris, from 4000 Holes
So no more Damien Duff or David Dunn at Ewood Park, then. Whilst this is naturally somewhat of a blow, manager Graeme Souness has once more shown just why he is one of the best in the top flight by bringing in Steven Reid and Brett Emerton.
And it is the signing of the Australian international that has got most Rovers fans excited - from what I have seen of him in the past, the £2.5million Souness splashed out on him could prove an absolute bargain.
I would be a lot happier if we could just sign the striker we so obviously need, yet this doesn't seem likely to happen before the start of the season - it would have been good if Souness had perhaps taken a chance on Bobby Zamora, who Spurs picked up for around £1.5million.
Still, there is every reason for optimism ahead of the new campaign. Prediction - fifth.
By John Ormskirk, from Fans FC.
|Best - Same again||Worst - Bottom half|
Much will depend on how Rovers deal with the loss of Damien Duff and David Dunn. The duo were the club's top scorer and second top scorer respectively, with nine and eight goals, so there is a big gap to fill by the ageing strike force of Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke. At the back Rovers should continue to be solid with the summer additions of Lorenzo Amoruso and Vratislav Gresko but it is doubtful they can compete both domestically and in Europe. After treating the UEFA Cup as a secondary competiton in 2002/03, Souness' side may be tempted to prove themselves on the continent, to the detriment of their domestic performance.