Currently lying 22nd in the Championship, it is a miracle Blackburn Rovers are only 2 points from safety. With a record this season of just 20 points from 23 games (won 5, drawn 5, lost 13 and with 27 goals for and 39 goals against) arguably we should be a greater distance from safety. After the latest defeat to Barnsley Owen Coyle said that the strikers have to take their chances – that is correct but it is a bit naïve of the ex-Bolton manager considering that the previous 3 games had all seen 3-2 defeats; had the defence done their jobs, we should have at least got points out of each of the games – Sheffield Wednesday have scored 27 goals thus far and find themselves in a play-off spot in 6th place, but have only conceded 23 goals.
Going in to the game at Newcastle United at the end of November you would have said that this was a home banker, but somehow Blackburn managed to get a one nil win with a resolute defensive performance – this was the last time we had one. The Rovers have now gone 5 games without a win, following an unbeaten run of three – if it was not for this run, we would likely be firmly rooted to the bottom of the division.
So what is going wrong? Firstly, the owners, the Venky’s, are so out of touch with the club, the supporters and the sport in general, they don’t see how they are hurting the supporters and how the decisions they make are so frustrating and poor. For example, take the hiring of Owen Coyle:
His only real success in football management has been the one season in which he got Burnley promoted in 2009 – the following season he left for Bolton and saw them relegated in 2012. He was then sacked from Bolton in October 2012, and joined recently relegated Wigan in June 2013 – his tenure at the DW lasted just short of 6 months as he was sacked again in December 2013. Coyle then joined MLS side Houston Dynamo in December 2014 where he lasted until May 2016 when Coyle said he was keen to move back to the UK to be with his family, whilst the Dynamo’s were not satisfied with the results on the pitch. And that brings us to the following month, June 2016 when he was appointed as the new Manager of Blackburn Rovers as he was “the outstanding candidate” during interviews.
A look back at his CV shows that he was relatively successful in Scotland and at Burnley, but that’s where his success stops – 2009, 8 years ago. Added to his poor performances as a manager over the last few years, Coyle has managed at Burnley, Bolton and Wigan – all local rivals of Blackburn Rovers. Even if he had only managed Burnley, and been relatively successful, he should never have even been considered for the Rovers job. This is yet another thing that the Venky’s have got wrong. The worrying this is, I highly doubt that they even know that they have got it wrong, or what they have gotten wrong.
A festive period record of 4 defeats in 4 games does not bode well, and for any other club in the relegation zone at this stage and with this record, this would more than likely spell the end for the manager – but not at Ewood Park. When the fans talk of Coyle being given the boot, frustrations are met by the same question: “But who is actually going to sack him?”.
The Venky’s haven’t been seen at Ewood for a game since January 2013 when Blackburn were defeated by Charlton. A look at the “Who’s Who” page on the clubs website provides little insight in to who actually runs the club day to day and who would be responsible for pulling the trigger:
Directors: Robert Coar and Gandhi Babu
Finance Director: Mike Cheston
Club President: KC Lee
A little Google research doesn’t bring up very much information on any of these people but the silence that is deafening is that none of these people have the knowledge, experience or background to make them the right person to hire and fire a manager – there is next to no footballing experiencing amongst them, other than managing (or mismanaging the books of football clubs). This leaves me to believe that it is these people who put us in the position we are now by hiring the wrong man, based on a whim that he may be able to repeat one successful season. That, and given that Coyle’s reputation is so low, his salary would probably match.
At the time of the managerial search in May 2016, there were allegedly 4 candidates: Alex McLeish, Neil Warnock, Warren Joyce and David Dunn.
The romantic amongst us would have loved Dunny to have taken the job but realistically it would be a baptism of fire that would have likely only gone badly. For a man with as great a reputation in Blackburn, the sensible thing would be for him to get more experience elsewhere or work his way up inside the club.
So that leaves, McLeish, Warnock and Joyce – the latter is/was very much an unknown quantity but you don’t work at Manchester United for 8 years, the majority of which under Alex Ferguson without knowing a thing or two about the game – in comparison to Coyle, he was a risk worth taking; not to mention his contacts within the game and at Manchester United which could’ve proved vital with regards to loan signings given the limited budget at Ewood.
Warnock would have been the sensible option. It is a sign of how bad things have become that I would have liked Warnock to manage the club I support. In my eyes he is a bit of a dinosaur but when it comes to the Championship he knows what he is doing, and given a summer with the squad and being allowed to bring in his own players, we would be mid-table at worst in the league. Yes, he is struggling at Cardiff at the minute but I fully expect him to guide them to safety and have a challenge for promotion next season – the January window will see a transformation in their fortunes.
So that leaves McLeish – a man currently managing Egypt following a stint in Belgium with Genk, and following relative success at Birmingham, Rangers and Scotland. Sure this man had more experience of getting teams out of the Championship, and had a far better track record.
Yet, given the viable alternatives, Venky’s plumped for Coyle, a man who’s reputation was in tatters; a man who had managed Burnley; a man who had been relegated with Bolton and had struggled to make an impact with a largely talented Wigan side, and failed with MLS side Houston Dynamos – and here we find ourselves at the turn of the year, mid-way through the season on 20 points from 23 games, sat 3rd from bottom.
If whoever it is that makes the hiring and firing decisions doesn’t take action soon, it will be too late, and once we drop to the 3rd tier, the road back is even longer and harder, with the threat of administration beginning to loom overhead.
So what actions need to be taken?:
- Sack Coyle – he is evidently out of his depth, and his appearance on Sky Sports News knocking the confidence out of one of our strikers shows that he doesn’t appreciated the enormity of the situation – either that, or he just doesn’t care.
- Appoint Gary Rowett – the best man available at the minute. Rowett is a young manager who has shown he can be successful with little money (Burton) and can manage at clubs in crisis (Birmingham).
- Get rid of the dead-wood – there are players who seem to be the first name on the team sheet at Ewood who are seemingly not giving there all and would rather be somewhere else (I won’t name names but all Rovers fans know who they are). We shouldn’t be paying their wages if they aren’t interested in getting us out of trouble so it would be best to get rid.
- Blood in the youngsters – the likes of Connor Mahoney, Scott Wharton and Ryan Nyambe have all done well when given the chance, but as always they then disappear and are never seen again. At times this season we have played with one recognised defender in the back four whilst the youngsters haven’t been given a chance.
- Decide what you want to do with the club – when they took over at Ewood the Venky’s said they wanted success and wanted Rovers to be in the Champions League; we have never been further away from achieving this than we are now since they took over the club. If their intentions are still honest, they need to communicate with the supporters and establish a worthwhile and workable management structure at the club; and ideally go in to partnership with someone who supports the club or has a history with the club so that they can do the day to day running of the club. The Venky’s don’t want to lose all the money they have put in to the club, but the only way for this to happen is to provide the finances and allow someone who knows the club and knows football to run the club; and they must be left to get on with it. This won’t be a 6 months fix, more like a 6 year fix, but they need to be left to get on with it.