Blackburn v City: Connections part II
- 03 January 2014 10:16
- Posted by @dmseitler
Five more connections between the Blues and Rovers ahead of the FA Cup clash at Ewood Park...
5. Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes appeared 50 times for Blackburn before eventually hanging up his well-travelled boots in Lancashire in 2002. The Welshman was quick to return to Ewood Park as a manager, where he guided the Riversiders to an FA Cup semi final in his first season in charge and a top six finish in his second.
Having looked set to fill the managerial void left by Avram Grant at Chelsea, Hughes was appointed as City head coach in June 2008. He was at the helm of a ship with a significantly revamped crew - notable signings included Pablo Zabaleta and Vincent Kompany - but could only steer City to 10th position in his first season. Hughes was also credited with the signings of Robinho and later Carlos Tevez, but an extended series of drawn games running up to the following festive period saw City drop to 8th in the League and Hughes was replaced by a charismatic Italian.
4. Colin Hendry
Current Blackburn reserve team coach and legend Colin Hendry appeared 63 times for the Blues between 1989 and 1991. Lured away from Ewood Park by Howard Kendall to bolster the City back-line, the Scotsman was quick to impress and won the Player of the Year award in his first year at the club. Hendry fell foul of a dispute with incoming player-manager Peter Reid and his career at Maine Road was scuppered as a result. He rejoined Blackburn in November 1991 for a fee of £700,000
3. Craig Bellamy
Welshman Craig Bellamy was first to share clubs with former international teammate Mark Hughes at Blackburn when he signed on the dotted line for his fifth different club in 2005. He chose to follow Hughes to Manchester four years later and the striker’s searing pace and tenacity brought 12 goals in 40 appearances for City. Memorable highlights include braces at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford, but neither was enough to convince Roberto Mancini that Bellamy could play a significant role in the Italian's long term plans.
2. Garry Flitcroft
Legend has it that burgeoning Boltonian midfielder Garry Flitcroft chose Blue over Red in 1991 and went on to captain City as a result. Five years at the club saw Flitcroft make 116 appearances in the centre of City’s midfield with 13 goals to show for it. Manager Alan Ball reluctantly accepted an offer of £3.5m from Blackburn in March 1996 as City suffered from another wave of financial difficulties. He would go on to captain Rovers.
1. Roque Santa Cruz
City’s only Paraguayan representative served Rovers diligently for two seasons, in which he finished fourth-top scorer in his first season in England and netted 23 times. Santa Cruz was one of a hoard of high-profile signings introduced during the summer of 2009 but struggled to recreate the form that originally attracted the attention of various Premier League clubs. Three goals in 20 appearances was enough evidence for incoming boss Roberto Mancini to deem loan spells at Real Betis and Malaga, and eventual exit from the club a necessity.