It seems like an eternity ago that the Blackburn Rovers were Premier League champions. They’ve spent most of the past twenty years at the lower levels of English Football, most recently in the Football Championships. Rovers were a charter member of the FA Premier League in 1992-93 and finished fourth. They finished second in 1993-1994 and won the Premiership in 1994-95. Things hit the skids soon after and in 1999 the team was relegated. They eventually regained the top level of the sport in England but were relegated to the Championship in 2012. Since then, they’ve bounced between the Championship and League One–the only Premiership Champions to slip into the third level.
They managed to find their way back up last year and finished 15th. While this might not seem like much, manager Tony Mowbray is given credit for steadying the ship and keeping them out of relegation danger. The hope this season is that they can move up further. Promotion this season is likely out of reach but with only ten points between the #8 and #15 teams last season a strong move up the table is very realistic. Rovers took points in 17 of 23 home games a year ago (10-7-6) and one key to improving this year is transforming a few of those draws into ‘W’s’. They did finish last season strong with only one loss in their last six fixtures–that loss coming 2-1 to eventual champions Norwich City.
They’ve got a good shot at starting this season with a victory as they host newly promoted Charlton Athletic. They were promoted via the League One playoffs last season. Despite their promotion, fans are very unhappy with owner Roland Duchatelet who is trying to sell the team. For that reason, manager Lee Bowyer is seen as something of a heroic figure among Charlton boosters. Bowyer has had his own issues with ownership–at one point, he resigned his position only to reverse course the following day. The ownership flux has kept Charlton on the sidelines of the transfer market so it remains to be seen how competitive they’ll be at this level.
There are strong similarities between both teams, particularly in how they’ve played well despite ownership issues. With Rovers, team owners VH Group is seen as the ‘heels’ that ran the team into the ground (or into League One as the case may be). Tony Mobray is in a good position at the moment and if Rovers show any improvement at all you can expect him back next season. A few injuries of note–Rovers will be without defender Derrick Williams due to ongoing struggles with a calf injury. Sam Hart, Jacob Davenport and most likely Dominic Samuel will also miss. Charlton will play without forward Chuks Aneke and defender Lewis Page.
Serious questions about Charlton’s ability to compete at this level with the personnel on hand. Rovers were a decent home side last year and this is an excellent chance to get the season off on good footing.