Pre-Season Preview: Blackburn Rovers
A closer look at Everton's opponents this Saturday.
After last week's victory at Accrington Stanley, Everton make a return trip to Lancashire this Saturday to face Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers.
Here we take a closer look at the club that will this season be aiming to win promotion back to the Premier League following their relegation from the top flight in May 2012...
Name: Blackburn Rovers
When do we play them? Everton make the short journey to Blackburn on Saturday 27 July. Kick-off is at 2pm.
Where? The game will take place at Ewood Park, which holds a capacity of just over 31,000. Blackburn have been playing home matches at the venue since 1882.
How can I watch it? Everton have been given an initial allocation of 4,700 tickets in the Lower Darwen Stand. For more information and prices click here. If you can't make it to Ewood Park, the game will be broadcast live on evertontv. Click here to learn more about how you can view Everton's remaining pre-season fixtures.
Who’s their boss? Gary Bowyer. Blackburn recently appointed the 41-year-old as the club’s permanent manager on a one-year contract after two spells as caretaker boss last season.
Lancashire Telegraph sports reporter Alex James feels it is the right appointment for the club following a period of instability at Ewood Park. After Steve Kean left the club last September, Blackburn hired and fired both Henning Berg and Michael Appleton during 2012/13.
He says: “Gary seems to have the support of the Venky’s (Blackburn’s owners) and the majority of fans as the reaction to him getting the job was positive. He has the backing of the players so it seems a good fit at the moment - but time will tell.”
Who’s their best player? Jordan Rhodes. Rovers splashed the cash for the Scotland international before the transfer window closed last August, paying Huddersfield Town £8million for his services. The 24-year-old carried on where he left off at the Terriers and scored 29 goals for Rovers in 48 games.
Who’s their unsung hero? Jason Lowe. The versatile youngster has become an integral part of Rovers’ team after progressing through the Academy at Ewood Park. The 21-year-old can play at full back but he cemented a place in central midfield during the club’s first season in the Championship. He was recently part of the England Under-21s squad that competed at this summer’s European Championships in Israel.
How did they get on last season? Blackburn narrowly avoided a second successive relegation by four points, clinching their safety in the Championship on the final day of the season. There were a number of managerial casualties throughout the season with Berg and Appleton lasting only 57 and 67 days in the job respectively.
Any Everton connections? There are a number of notable former players that have played for both Everton and Blackburn. Craig Short, Lee Carsley, Lucas Neill, Marcus Bent, Mark Hughes and Yakubu have all represented both teams. Howard Kendall, the Toffees' most successful manager, started off his managerial career at Blackburn in 1979 before taking over the hot seat at Goodison Park two years later.
Have we played them before? Since the formation of the Premier League in 1992, Everton have faced Blackburn on 39 occasions, two of which have been in the domestic cup competitions and also the 1995 Charity Shield. The last time the clubs met was in a league fixture in January 2012; the game finished 1-1 at Goodison Park with David Goodwillie equalising after Tim Cahill had opened the scoring.
What does the expert say about them? Problems off the pitch dominated the headlines at Ewood Park last season, as Rovers had registered more managers than away wins at one point.
James believes stability is the key to a successful season this time around.
He says: “They can’t carry on as they did last season. Hopefully the penny might drop now with the Venky’s that they need to stick with someone and not judge someone on 10 matches as they seemed to do last year.
“People would like promotion but I think they would take a year of consolidation just to get things in order and get the club to progress in the right way. The financial picture is a bit uncertain but on paper they have the squad to do it.”