This is a weird story, but I suppose it does come from a good place, doesn’t it?
Since 2010 – around a year or two before Raul would ever be even remotely linked with a move to Ewood Park – Blackburn had undergone a pretty serious boardroom change.
Gone seemed to be the days of fair and consistent topflight trophy contention.
In had come a few decent seasons nearer the European spaces.
But that wasn’t enough – apparently!
By which point, in stepped the V H Group (fronted by and most commonly known as the Venky’s Indian conglomerate) to take them into pastures new.
They did do that, tbh – just not in the way as they would’ve wanted.
One thing we need to remember about the Venkys is that they weren’t stupid.
They were incredibly successful businessmen with a chicken and poultry conglomerate extending across one of the biggest, and most thriving economies in the world.
But in the football world, they were very poorly advised.
By people whose intentions can be considered questionable at best.
At the time of their original takeover, the Venky brothers were closely affiliated with global football agent Jerome Anderson. Whose agency (SEM) formed a global partnership with Kentaro Holdings the year before Blackburn were presented to the eventual bidders.
Now, I’m not going to flat out say that Anderson completed this deal purely out of self-interest to use the forthcoming business of the club to flatter his own worth.
But others have.
So, moving on …
By 2011/12, Blackburn had been linked with a number of stars, but didn’t sign any.
Michel Salgado was perhaps the most well-known global name brought in under the Venky ownership, but he could barely run up and down the flank once in the ninety at this point.
Rovers were then tenuously linked with Ronaldinho – though I doubt this substantial.
The stories about Raul, however, were genuine.
A word on Raul – probably one of the most under-appreciated strikers of his era.
At a time when Real Madrid were focusing more on how their players could explore new marketing activations, than they were about how they’d gel together on the pitch, it’s a testament to Raul’s ability that he was able to remain and maintain his impact.
A sweet right foot, great positional play and long, luscious hair.
I loved him.
As they do about this hairless legend – who, incidentally, also rejected Blackburn once.
After a 15-year spell with Los Blancos, Raul announced that he would finally be leaving the club a mere day after club-favourite Guti had decided the same.
The Spanish forward’s choice from Bundesliga outfit, Schalke 04.
A fair choice given their qualification for the 2010/11 Champions League campaign.
Then-manager Felix Magath heralded the business that bought Raul to Germany:
“It’s great news for FC Schalke 04, I am pleased that we have succeeded in signing such an exceptional footballer and world-class striker switching to the Bundesliga for Schalke 04.”Felix Magath on signing Raul for Schalke in the summer of 2011
The joy, however, was unexpectedly short-lived for club and player alike.
Magath left the club not too long into the season after Raul’s arrival and was replaced by revolutionary gegenpress-lover, Ralf Ragnick.
Who, in almost a deliberate attempt to form a precursor into his most recent stint in the Premier League with Manchester United (no, I’m still not over it, btw), came in to steer the club through the rest of the 2011/12.
Raul, allegedly, objected to the change and could have his attentions swayed elsewhere if the right offer came calling at the right time in the season.
Blackburn, among fewer other opportunities, dialled his number.
But Raul refused.
Despite reportedly being offered a deal equivalent to £5 million per/year (a pretty handsome sum for anyone in the pre-Mbappe era, leave alone a 34-year old with a shot right knee), and a key influence in Blackburn’s team strategy moving forward, it wasn’t a viable solution for the Spaniard who seemed to appreciate that his better days were behind him.
When the season ended, he did indeed move away from Schalke, but into the openly wealthy, yet welcoming arms of Al Saad.
A swansong year with the New York Cosmos led to his official retirement in 2015.
By which point, Blackburn were relegated from the Premier League, and have really struggled to nail down an identity befitting a side worthy of returning anytime since.