Meet the opposition | Blackburn Rovers
As the Swans prepare to head to Ewood Park to take on Blackburn Rovers, we take a closer look at the Lancashire club.
What’s their story?
Blackburn Rovers were established in 1875 and have spent most of their existence in the top-flight of English football, winning three league titles – the most recent under Kenny Daglish in 1995 - and the FA Cup six times.
Blackburn were last in the top-flight in 2012, and have endured some tough times since.
Five years to the day after dropping out of the Premier League the club was relegated to League One in 2017, however they were in the third tier for just one season as they won the League One title in April 2018.
They have since consolidated their position in the second tier.
The 2020-21 campaign saw Rovers finish 15th in the Championship table as injuries took their toll in the wake of a fast start to the season where they were among the early pacesetters.
Preparations for the upcoming campaign kicked off early July as Rovers took on neighbouring Lancashire side AFC Flyde, winning 1-0.
They have since suffered defeats to Everton and Bradford, before draws against Leeds United and Bolton Wanderers.
Who's the boss?
Tony Mowbray. Mowbray is entering his fifth consecutive campaign as head coach at Blackburn Rovers.
A defender in his playing days, and a Middlesbrough legend, the 57-year-old made over 420 appearances for Boro before joining Celtic in 1991 and Ipswich Town in 1995.
He kicked off his coaching career at Ipswich Town as an interim manager, before relocating to Scotland where he managed Hibernian and former club Celtic. In 2006, Mowbray took over at West Bromwich Albion, leading them back to the top-flight in the 07-08 campaign.
He once again returned to a former club for a three-year stint at Middlesbrough, before being appointed manager of Coventry City in 2015. Mowbray went on to join Blackburn in 2017.
Who’s the captain?
Darragh Lenihan. The Republic of Ireland defender joined Rovers in the summer of 2011 as an 18-year-old from Irish club Belvedere.
He spent a year in Blackburn’s academy setup before stepping up to the pro ranks, and gained valuable first-team experience during a loan spell with League One Burton during the 2014-15 season as he made 17 appearances, scoring once.
He returned to Ewood Park in April 2015, making his senior debut against Millwall and has since become a key player in Rovers’ starting XI racking up over 200 appearances for the club to date.
He was handed the captaincy in June 2021 due to the departure of Elliot Bennett.
Who are the key men?
Top scorer Adam Armstrong – who has been heavily linked with a move away from Rovers - finished last season with 29 goals in all competitions, although it remains to be seen if he will be involved this weekend given the speculation over his future.
Ben Brereton Diaz, meanwhile, starts the season boosted by a fairytale summer where he represented and scored for Chile in the Copa America. He has been a standout performer for Rovers and the 22-year-old was nearly an ever-present last term.
Ryan Nyambe is a strong force in Rovers’ defence, and the young Namibian defender also has an eye on goal as he showed by scoring five times last season. In the middle of the park, 26-year-old Joe Rothwell brings pace and skill with the Manchester United youth product looking to kick on this term.
Who wore both shirts?
Striker Danny Graham joined newly promoted Swansea City in 2011 from Watford for a club-record fee. The striker played his part in the run to League Cup glory in 2013 – netting a crucial goal in the semi-final against Chelsea – but had left for Sunderland prior to the final against Bradford.
Overall, Graham made over 60 appearances for the Swans in all competitions, scoring 21 times.
After a nomadic few years, he found some stability at Rovers. After an initial loan spell at Ewood Park, Graham signed a permanent deal, remaining at the club for four years in which he became a pivotal player in the starting XI. He appeared over 180 times for the Lancashire side scoring 57 goals in all competitions.
Swans hero James Thomas started his professional career at Ewood Park. Thomas struggled for regular first team football at Rovers and was loaned to several clubs such as West Bromwich Albion, Blackpool, Sheffield United and Bristol Rovers.
The Welsh striker only made four senior league appearances for the Lancashire side, scoring three times in all competitions and left them to join the Swans on a free transfer in 2002.
He would score 15 goals in 57 league outings for Swansea – none more crucial than the three he scored against Hull to preserve the club’s Football League status – before misfortune with injuries prematurely ended his career.