With a quarter of the season gone D3D4 takes a look back at how the 1995 Premier League Champions have adapted to life in the third tier…
It is fair to say that Blackburn Rovers were almost everyone’s favourite to win the title in League One this season or at least to be a serious automatic promotion contender. They may still be the latter or indeed both but it wasn’t quite the walk in the park that a squad with the talent of Blackburn’s was expecting.
August PL 4, W 2, L 2
The season started at Roots Hall against a Southend side that had just missed out on the League One play-offs. Blackburn looked like a team not yet used to a new level and also had a number of new players bedding in but the basic marking was all at sea as Ryan Leonard and then Michael Kightly gave The Shrimpers a 2-0 half time lead. One of Blackburn’s top players, Charlie Mulgrew, scored a lovely free kick to pull one back but Southend held on to claim the opening day win.
Next up for Rovers was Doncaster at home and I kid ye not when I say that that at least two of the goals they conceded would qualify for one of those blooper videos (sorry DVDs) (sorry youtube compilations) that are usually presented by Nick Hancock or Ian Wright. The Ewood park faithful must have been wondering what the players were doing in training all week as they saw their team gift Doncaster three goals before Dominic Samuel grabbed a consolation in a 3-1 defeat.
It was clear from the opening couple of games that Blackburn needed to wake up and quickly so it must have been a huge relief to Tony Mowbray that their next fixture, away at Bradford was a huge improvement. Bradford were undefeated at Valley Parade throughout 2016-17 season so for Blackburn to grab the 1-0 there was impressive. The good thing for Rovers fans was the fact that their defence suddenly look impenetrable.
Next up was MK Dons at Ewood Park and finally the home crowd got to see a performance worthy of the great club! Goals from Derek Williams, a brace from Charlie Mulgrew and one from Dominic Samuel were enough to end August with a 4-1 win.
September PL 6, W 4, D 1, L 1
Rovers made it four straight wins at Glanford Park against a Scunthorpe side with some serious promotion ambitions. The Iron do not give away many goals and this was again the case in this one but Glanford Park will not be happy hunting ground for many teams this season, as Marcus Antonsson grabbed the only goal of the game.
Back home at Ewood Park and a seemingly straight forward win over Wimbledon ended up with Rovers on the end of a 1-0 reverse despite them dominating much of the game. This defeat, their third of the season, was another warning of how difficult League One can be.
Bradley Dack then rescued Rovers a point away at unbeaten Shrewsbury before goal happy Rotherham turned up at Ewood Park for the Tuesday night match only to be blanked in a 2-0 home win as both Marcus Antonsson and Middlesborough loanee Harry Chapman found the net in what was an impressive display.
Blackburn then saw out the month with another slender win at home against a Gillingham side that have looked completely off the pace so far this season.
October will present many challenges for Rovers and they will need to prove that they can beat the teams that are struggling in the division. An away trip to a much improved Oldham is swiftly followed by a home matches against Plymouth Argyle and Portsmouth before a big away trip to Wigan Athletic. The month will end back at Ewood Park against Fleetwood as Rovers will be looking to make home advantage count as Autumn sets in over Lancashire.
Charlie Mulgrew has been excellent so far for Blackburn. He has scored three times and has set up a couple of goals too. His set pieces will be a very useful weapon for Rovers as the season progresses.
Most surprising player?
Dominic Samuel gets my vote for this one especially when you consider his performances for Reading last season. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t bad but he never looked like being prolific so to have scored 5 times already is excellent.
Performance against expectations?
Not as well as many expected but to be only a point outside the play-off places considering the start they made is not too bad. They are nine points behind the top two with two games in hand so IF they win both of those then they will be right there and with this squad starting to hit some form they could be serious contenders. The game against Wigan on October 28th will be huge and a bench mark of just where this team are in terms of quality in League One.
words James Richards