Can Blackburn Rovers Earn Promotion to the Premier League in 2015 – 2016?
It might be hard to believe now, considering the fact that the Blackburn Rovers have been putting forth middling performances in the Football League Championship for three consecutive seasons, but early in Premier League history, the Rovers were actually one of the top teams in the division. Indeed, Blackburn finished in fourth place in the first year of the Premier League (1992 – 1993), despite the fact that they’d just earned promotion up from Division 2 the year before. The next season, the Rovers were the runners-up to Manchester United’s championship squad, and in 1994 – 1995, Blackburn actually won the Premier League, topping Man United by just one point to take the crown. So can Blackburn Rovers earn promotion back into the Premier League during the 2015 – 2016 football season?
A Fall from Grace
The years since their Premier League victory haven’t been anywhere near as kind to the Blackburn Rovers. They dipped to seventh place in 1995 – 1996, and continued to slide down the Premier League table before being relegated at a 19th place finish in 1999.
In 2001, the Rovers managed promotion back into the Premier League, and actually spent the entire following decade in England’s top-tier football division. However, their placement never rose above sixth in the league, and usually fell outside of the top 10. As a result, few were surprised when Blackburn were relegated back to the Football League Championship after a second-to-last finish in the 2011 – 2012 season.
The 2011 – 2012 campaign was pretty bottom-of-the-barrel for the Rovers. They only won eight of their Premier League matches, drawing another seven and losing the remaining 23. Manager Steve Kean was sacked, and Blackburn faced relegation for the second time since the inception of the Premier League.
Unfortunately, things didn’t bounce back for the Rovers like they did the last time the soccer club was relegated. Kean’s tenure as head coach was followed by the two shortest serving managers in Blackburn history: Henning Berg and Michael Appleton, both of whom held the job for less than 70 days, and both of whom had been sacked by the end of the 2012 – 2013 season. It wasn’t hard to see why: despite being very familiar with the Premier League’s higher level of competition, the Rovers couldn’t even weather the challenges of the second tier, and fell to 17th place during their first season back in the Football League Championship.
Things have looked up slightly since then. In 2013 – 2014, Blackburn rose to eighth place in the Football League Championship, and last season, they played with similar consistency to finish at ninth. Those aren’t great outcomes, of course, but they are certainly preferable to 17th.
2015 – 2016: The Rovers’ Time to Return to the Premier League?
When players don the Blackburn Rovers home shirt 2015 – 2016 this fall, they’ll be starting their fourth consecutive season in the second tier of English soccer. And while Blackburn do have a more extensive history of relegations and promotions than most other soccer squads in England, they haven’t spent this much time in the second division since earning promotion ahead of the first-ever Premier League season.
So here’s the question: are the Blackburn Rovers just a second-tier team now? Or are we going to see them rejoin England’s top-flight in the next year or two?
Judging by the soccer squad’s performance last season, it seems doubtful that the Rovers will be earning promotion this year. Blackburn had a decent run in 2014 – 2015, winning 17 games, drawing 16, and losing 13, but they’ll have to get their win count up into the 20s to even have a shot at promotion. For instance, last season, the weakest team to make the Championship playoffs had a 22-12-12 record.
The good news is that Blackburn’s best players look like they will be returning in 2015 – 2016. In 2014 – 2015, the Rovers were one of just two teams (the other being Watford) to land two players on the top 10 list for Championship goalscorers. The players in question, Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede scored 41 goals between them. If Blackburn are to attain promotion this year, Rhodes and Gestede will be the key.
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