As the insanity that was transfer deadline day reached its crescendo, a deal was made by a Premier League club that went almost unnoticed. It may also be one of the best pieces of business done in the transfer window.
While my attention, like that of most of football fans, in the evening was on the Torres transfer to Chelsea and the Andy Carroll transfer to Liverpool (who paid way too much for him), a sentence appeared on my laptop screen that made me only for the second time that day think ‘good deal’. The first was when I heard Blackpool had signed James Beattie, exactly the type of player they need. The second was hearing that Blackburn Rovers had signed Argentine midfielder Mauro Formica.
Since they took over Blackburn, the new owners, Venky’s, have not exactly won any popularity contests. They fired Sam Allardyce and replaced him with a relative unknown (if it was based on the style of play I have no problem with that decision, but if it was based on results, it makes no sense). They’ve been maligned as mere ‘chicken farmers’, which is a bit like saying Bill Gates works in IT as they are a multi-billion dollar corporation. They’ve been laughed at for some of their plans that seemed to be far-fetched, like rumours about them trying to sign Ronaldinho and a string of bizarre rumours coming out of the club.
Blackburn have quietly put together a pretty good season. They are currently nestled in the top half of the table and have a chance of making one of the European places if they can put a good run of results together. So if the signing of Formica turns out to be a shrewd move, it may make all the difference to Blackburn’s season.
It looks as though the owners pulled out all the stops to sign Formica. He was apparently close to signing for Monaco when Venky’s sent over a private jet for him and gazumped Monaco’s wage offer. By signing Formica, Blackburn now has not only a player that will improve their attacking play; he’s also the kind of signing that may help attract others to the club as he has a string of admirers within the game.
Blackburn manager Steve Kean described Formica as a ‘Young Batistuta’. That’s not really an accurate description of him as he’s not an out-and-out goalscorer. He can score goals but is more of a creative player.
From what I’ve seen of him, he looks to be able to use both feet well and can run past players with ease. He also seems to be very good at picking the right pass in the final third, something that Blackburn have lacked for a long time.
Blackburn are light on attacking options and have been for years. Currently Blackburns top scorers in the Premier League (Nikola Kalinic and Morten Gamst Pedersen) only have 4 goals each. Kalinic doesn’t score enough, neither does Benjani. Jason Roberts is one of those players that you wonder how they’ve managed to have such a long career without ever really doing anything notable.
Creativity is the problem. Blackburn are stacked with combative midfielders who are good at winning the ball but don’t have enough players who can make something happen. Formica may be the answer.
If Roque Santa Cruz can get fully fit (that’s a big if) and if the new signing Rochina from Barcelona proves to be a useful striker and David Hoilett continues to progress at the rate he is currently doing, and if Venky’s continue to invest in the team, Blackburn may have a pretty good team in no time at all.
Here's a video that shows Formica's creativity and eye for goal with a beautiful chip.