As a former Burnley boss, Owen Coyle has his work cut out at Blackburn.

Long Way Down for Former Premier League Champions

As a former Burnley boss, Owen Coyle has his work cut out at Blackburn.

Blackburn is one of a select group of six sides to win the English Premier League since its inception but one thinks that Rovers fall from grace may continue this season with relegation to England’s third tier, League One.

The SAS strike partnership of Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton fired Blackburn to English Premier League glory in 1995 only three years after Rovers had gained entry to England’s top flight. Blackburn competed in 18 of the first 23 seasons of the English Premier League but Rovers have been absent from the elite division for a long time and one believes that they could slide farther down England’s football pyramid.

Local businessman Jack Walker bankrolled Blackburn’s rise in the 1990’s but his family sold Rovers to Venkys in 2010 and the poultry company has not invested Walker-like money into them. Blackburn relinquished its English Premier League status 18 months after Venkys assumed control and Rovers have not come close to regaining its membership under their wealthy Indian owner, finishing 17th, eighth, ninth and 15th in the last four editions of the English Championship.

Paul Lambert lasted just six months as Blackburn manager, electing to activate a clause in his contract to leave Rovers at the end of last term. Lambert broke his silence shortly before his departure, revealing that frustration with Venkys led him to sever ties with Blackburn. Venkys hired Owen Coyle to succeed Lambert and to say that the Scot’s record as a boss is patchy would be quite kind.

Coyle enjoyed early success managing Falkirk, St Johnstone and Burnley but his managerial record has been tarnished by his spells in charge of Bolton, Wigan and Houston. Bolton fans loved Coyle as a striker but Wanderers supporters turned on him as a boss. Coyle lasted less than six months as Wigan coach and his 18 months leading Houston saw the Dynamo win less than one-third of their games. One thinks that Blackburn may regret giving another chance to Coyle.

One round into the English Championship and Blackburn is trading at odds of +250  with William Hill to drop into England’s third tier for the first time since 1979. One believes that those are generous odds in view of not only Blackburn’s summer transfer activity but also the effort that Rovers produced versus Norwich in its first match.

Norwich had failed to score in five of its last six games in last season’s English Premier League but the Canaries tore Blackburn’s defence to shreds, scoring three goals in the opening 25 minutes at Ewood Park and leading 4-0 before Rovers substitute Anthony Stokes headed a consolation. Blackburn had just 42 per cent of possession on its home pitch against Norwich and Rovers managed only two attempts on target. Norwich may end up being Newcastle’s greatest threat at the top of the English Championship ladder but Blackburn was embarrassed to lose 1-4 at home to the Canaries in what was Coyle’s first competitive match.

Like Lambert, Grant Hanley abandoned Blackburn during the close season, signing a five-year Newcastle contract for an undisclosed transfer fee. Hanley was almost an ever present for Blackburn at the heart of its defence last term and Rovers felt his absence against Norwich. Blackburn’s ins were less impressive than its outs and, with an inferior manager to boot, it is realistic to think that Rovers will finish this term’s English Championship lower on the ladder than they did last season. Blackburn had the best defensive record of the dozen sides that ended last term’s English Championship below halfway on the ladder but Rovers are  unlikely to shut out teams this term without Hanley. Moreover, remember that Blackburn struggled to score frequently following its sale of Jordan Rhodes to Middlesbrough during the January transfer window.

Tips Summary

Blackburn to be relegated from the Championship
Season 2016/17
Odds:  +250

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