BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - APRIL 21: Blackburn Rovers supporters protest against the manager and owners of Blackburn Rovers prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers and Norwich City at Ewood park on April 21, 2012 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Rovers were always expected to be part of the relegation battle this season, Steve Kean's promise to deliver European football within 3 to 4 years notwithstanding. The club started the season in the bottom 3 and stayed there for the most part, never venturing past 14th place in the table.
The nervousness that surrounds a club when they're near the drop zone permeated their entire season. Notably, Rovers punted in the fifth round of the Football League Cup, preferring to focus on the league instead. That move was especially annoying to Newcastle supporters, as the Magpies had been knocked out by Blackburn the round previous. Fortunately for the Toon Army, Hatem Ben Arfa and Jonas Gutierrez would have their revenge in the third round of the FA Cup:
That clip is, in a nutshell, why Blackburn are going down. One can certainly criticize the allowed departure of Phil Jones prior to the season or the inexplicable sales of Jason Roberts and Christopher Samba in January, but the heart of the problems has always been the defense. Blackburn were porous in 2011-12, allowing more than 2 goals per fixture and achieving a clean sheet only 3 times. That's not good, but what Rovers supporters will likely be ruing the most is an astounding 11 games lost by just 1 goal. If just one or two of those fixtures could be turned into draws or even wins, we could be discussing what went wrong with Bolton's season instead. Teams that survive the Premier League can bunker down and prevent lost points. Blackburn didn't.
Rovers' relegation marks the end of a 12 year stay in the top flight, and of course this will be the second time they've been sent down since winning the Premier League title in 1995. During their latest stint, they finished in the top half six times, so while they haven't been worldbeaters, they've also done relatively well for themselves. As if Newcastle fans needed reminding, Blackburn's unfortunate end to this season casts a reminder that virtually no team is safe. We don't yet know who the third team to take the plunge will be - Queens Park Rangers and Bolton Wanderers are the candidates - but of the four, Blackburn strike me most as the sort of team who can rebound from this. Of course, they'll first have to get out of their own way in order to be successful. Fans are adamant that both Kean and Venky's get out as soon as possible, but even if they don't get their satisfaction, we've seen worse managers and worse owners regain entry into the top flight.
Who are you rooting for to survive the drop?
Queens Park Rangers (47 votes)
Bolton Wanderers (80 votes)
127 total votes