Date: 20th September 2006 at 8:52am
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Stephane Henchoz believes that he could be the answer Blackburn Rovers have been looking for in solving their defensive problems they have had so far this season.

Henchoz who joined Rovers this summer on a free transfer is fully focused on improving his fitness ready for his chance of first team duty. The 32-year old Swiss International is serving his second stint at the club and is desperate to do well for them, believing he can be the missing link in a so far lacklustre defence.

During his first spell at Ewood Park, Henchoz would prove to be a success and fans favourite after being brought to the club by then manager Roy Hodgson in 1997. His fine performances would catch the attention of Liverpool, to whom he went in 1999. Although his style of play is different to that of his last term at Ewood Park, he hopes to be just as much a success and recapture his form of the time. He would say:

In a way, I’m a different player now to the one I was then because I’ve got more experience – definitely.

But, in another way, I was 23 when I was here the first time around and now I’m 32, so I’m a different player to the one that was here before.

In football, when you start getting older, your pace starts to leave you a little bit.”

He would also add:

Even if you go to work in the gym, you can’t get that back because it’s a physical thing.

But as you get older, you also learn to play more with your head. You feel more where you should be, and all those types of things.”

Henchoz believes that it is just a matter of time until he gets his opportunity. With Ryan Nelsen likely to be out until Christmas, and if the current defensive set-up continues conceding at the rate they have been, his chance should arise sometime soon.

I still believe I can do a job at this level so I haven’t come here just to train with the team and be happy with that.

I hope to get to the level of the other players as quickly as I can, then wait for the right opportunity and when it comes, make sure I take it.”

Despite a shaky start to the season, with Rovers having one of the worst defensive starts so far, Hughes looks set to continue with the central partnership of Andre Ooijer and Zurab Khizanishvili, even if only for Saturday’s away league tie at Middlesbrough.

Once fully fit, Henchoz will further face stiff competition from Andy Todd and Dominic Matteo, who will no doubt be fighting for a place. Henchoz however is not the least bit fazed by this competition, believing that he can get that all important rallying call. Talking of winning a place in the squad he said:

When you play at big clubs who finished in Europe last season, of course there is always competition for places.

But if you play in Europe then you need a big squad anyway to cope with the injuries and any other problems you might encounter.

The season is very long, you have dips in form and players pick up injuries, so everyone needs to play their part over the course of the season.”

During his spell at Liverpool, spanning nearly six years, Henchoz would be recognised as one of the Premierships most consistent defenders, making nearly 250 appearances and winning half-a-dozen trophies. His experience and quality would be why Hughes was keen to add him to the squad. He would finish by saying:

This is a new adventure for me and I’m desperate to do well for Blackburn again.”

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16 Replies to “Henchoz Rovers’ Defensive Answer?”

  • I’m not sure. I think he is a leader which is what we are lacking in the heart of the defense at the moment, but I’m not sure how well he could do.

  • We’ll only find out if he’s given a go. He’s and experienced professional who will do a job, although he didn’t really have the best of times at Wigan did he.

  • My concern is once again a lack of pace. We are devoid of any great pace in our back four, neill and emerton aren’t bad but none of our central defenders can keep up with the majority of pacey strikers, unfortunately the same applies to Henchoz. I know he talks about using your head which is very useful but it’s that fear of once our defence has been turned then there is no catching the attacker.

  • If there is no catching them the last resort is often to do so by foul means which leads to a red card. Matteo and Todd aren’t quick really either are they, and although the youngest of the lot (Zurab aside) Nelsen is no speedster is he! If Gomaa arrived in January, being 30+ would lead you to thinking he’ll be no sprinter either?

  • Yeah that is the worry I have. On a plus side I reckon our team is well suited to European football, much in the same way that Bolton were last year, so hopefully if we can get past Salzburg we will be able to have a decent run in that comp.

  • Defence suited to European football without goubt, Premiership not really. Henchoz may not be the answer but another alternative until January when new arrivals can be purchased?

  • Henchoz won’t let Rovers down but Rovers need the Admiral back pure and simple. With him Rovers can soak up as much pressure as a sponge can water without little, or no pressure. Tomorrow’s article on Admiral Nelsen will prove just how much he is missed.

  • Im looking forward to the article on Nelsen…he really is a hero and its embarrasing just how much we miss him when he’s out.

  • He’s the man isn’t he. I hope the article doesn’t leave you feeling let down when it arrives. Lots of points of view and facts and stats, interesting viewing!

  • Henchoz is a good back up until we can get a younger centreback in ( or maybe two ) I agree that the centrebacks have no pace but are very good at wot they do, Zurab is a rite back playing in the middle, so come Jan I would hope to see a couple of younger centrebacks come in, well I know this is easier said than done but with Hughes u never know

  • If Hughes can get in some quality central defenders he will, if it costs money he’ll spend it, but I’d not be surprised to see another Ryan Nelsen type bonus quality and cheap defender arrive. Nelsen’s return will be like having a new defender won’t it anyway!

  • he was great for us first tie round and he as even more experience now i think he can only be good for us, or at least better defender than todd!

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