Blackburn’s greatest Premier League XI ever
Before Blackburn Rovers found themselves languishing in the mid-tiers of English football, they had enjoyed a run as one of the top sides in England. Most of this success came at the start of the Premier League era in the early 1990s where investment from local business magnate Jack Warner transformed the side into a title-winning outfit. Indeed, Rovers remain just one of 7 sides to win the title in the Premier League era. However, the club’s relegation from the Premier League in 2011 has left them a shadow of their former selves and fans at Ewood Park yearning for top flight football once again. So let’s take a trip back and see who would fit into Blackburn Rovers’ all time Premier League XI.
GK: Brad Friedel
There has never been any player more reliable than Brad Friedel. You could almost always be guaranteed to see the American shotstopper in goal for every game of the season – and for good reason. Not only did he stay fit but he commanded his area like a true general. His leadership skills were backed by excellent reactions and good distribution making him a top Premier League keeper for much of the 2000s. His consistency still remains unbeaten with Friedel earning a special Premier League Merit Award in 2009 and his 310-game streak of appearances from 2004-2012 (for 3 different clubs) remains a record for most consecutive starts in the league. A true legend.
RB: Brett Emerton
It’s fair to argue that Brett Emerton was a coup signing for Blackburn when he joined in 2003. The Australian international primarily played as a right-back but could play in midfield and as a centre-back if he needed to. Emerton’s technical skills were surprisingly good for a defender and his corners and free-kicks often caused havoc for opponents to defend. This was matched with excellent composure and a powerful figure in the air underlining his reputation as a true all-round. With over 240 appearances at Ewood Park, Emerton enjoyed a long and rewarding time at Ewood Park and in the Premier League.
LB: Graeme Le Saux
Graeme Le Saux may be known for his time with Chelsea but he was also a vital cog of the mighty Blackburn side of the mid-1990s. Moving to Ewood Park in 1992, Le Saux’s pace was a much different proposition for other full-backs at the time. His agility and ability on the ball gave Rovers an extra edge in attack as well as in defence outworking many of their opponents. It was why Le Saux was part of the side that won the 1994-95 title and also paved a way for a return to Stamford Bridge later down the track.
CB: Colin Hendry
With his big blonde hair and fearsome demeanour, very few people dared to take on Colin Hendry one on one. Those who did were often not successful as the imposing Scot barely let anyone get past him. His physical presence and excellent tackling meant he owned the box no matter who he took on. He was also a real handful in the air and his 4 goals in Rovers’ title-winning season underlined that ability. Hendry eventually left Blackburn for Rangers in 1998 but he has remained a popular figure at Ewood Park to this very day.
CB: Henning Berg
Before Berg became a regular at old Trafford, the Norwegian defender proved his mettle nearby with Blackburn Rovers. Having joined Rovers from Lillestrom in 1993, Berg shone in defence both on the left and in the centre. He was excellent at reading passes and intercepting them and his strong aerial abilities also helped neutralize wide attacks. It was why Berg claimed his first Premier League title at Ewood Park in 1995 and underlined himself as one of Europe’s best defenders. He would eventually leave to join Manchester United in 1997 and further his reputation as one of the best defenders in the 1990s.
CM: Tim Sherwood
An excellent technical mastermind, Tim Sherwood is often considered one of the more underappreciated English midfielders of the past few decades. Sherwood was excellent at passes as well as set-pieces making him a danger whenever he was on the ball. His calm demeanour and consistent performances made him a leader at Ewood Park – a point where he gained the captain’s armband during their title-winning season in 1994-1995. It was also here that Sherwood ended the season notching up 6 goals and a spot in the 1995 Premier League Team of the Year. Sherwood remained with the club until they were relegated in 1999 where he left to join Spurs. A true club legend in all aspects.
CM: David Dunn
Despite his reputation for being injury-prone, no midfielder was more dangerous on his day than David Dunn. Dunn’s ability to drive play forward made him a real-threat and he was also capable to score with ease when given the opportunity. This was none more apparent than in the 2002-03 season where he scored 8 goals in 28 games. After a short stint with Birmingham City, Dunn returned to Ewood Park in 2006 and shown he hadn’t lost his touch. This was proven in the 2009-10 season where he scored 9 goals in 23 games. He remained with the club until 2015 where he retired just a few months later.
CM: Morten Gamst Pedersen
For much of the 2000s, Blackburn enjoyed having a wealth of technical masters in their squad – none more so than Morten Gamst Pedersen. The Norwegian playmaker had a wicked left foot and could bend balls with ease- as passes or a shot. He was known particularly for striking spectacular goals from range – both from open play and dead-ball situations. This was on show as Pedersen scored 35 goals for the club – including 9 in the 2005/06 season. An all-rounder who could create and score with ease, Pedersen was a player who could always conjure something from nothing.
CF: Chris Sutton
Despite having some of the Premier League’s best strikers around him, Chris Sutton was never afraid to take his opportunities when they came at Ewood Park. Having moved there from Norwich in 1994, Sutton’s driving runs and burning pace saw his find space to shoot with ease. It was this skillset that saw Sutton score 15 goals in Blackburn’s title-winning campaign striking up a fearsome partnership with Alan Shearer. Sutton still managed to score after Shearer left in 1996 and his 18 goals in the 1997-98 season was enough to claim that season’s Golden Boot. Add that to two Premier League Player of the Month awards during his time with the club and it underlines Sutton’s status as one of England’s best strikers of the 1990s.
CF: Kevin Gallacher
Coming from a prominent Scottish football family, Kevin Gallacher knew he had the ability to score in his blood. And he lived up to what his lineage had set decades previously. Gallacher’s powerful shots and precise finishing made him a regular scorer for Blackburn throughout the 1990s. He formed an excellent 1-2 combo with Chris Sutton with his prowess particularly on form in the 1997/98 season scoring 16 goals. It was this form that underlines why Gallacher was seen as one of the best finishers of his time and a match-winner whenever he was on the pitch.
CF: Alan Shearer
There’s no doubting that Alan Shearer was a goal-machine whenever he was on the pitch – but he was never deadly than during his time at Ewood Park. Despite only spending 4 seasons with Blackburn, Shearer scored 112 goals in just 130 games. In 3 of those seasons, Shearer would net over 30 goals with a best of 34 goals during their title-winning campaign in 1994-95. It was the reason why Shearer became the first striker to reach 100 goals in the Premier League and win countless awards during his time with the club. With 2 Golden Boot awards, 1995 Premier League Player of the Year Award and 4x Premier League Team of the Year Inclusions during his time at Ewood Park, Shearer remains one of the greatest to ever feature for Blackburn Rovers – no matter what era you look at.