Tag Archives: Shebby Singh

The Critical Path

New-Blackburn-Rovers-Third-Kit-2013On Monday night, Newcastle United did what so many teams set out with the intention to do but so often fail – return to the Premier League at the first attempt. At the opposite end of the table, this weekend (weekend of the 29/30th April) are also the first weekend that Blackburn Rovers could mathematically be relegated. It could have been so much different though.

 In my current line of work, Project Management revolves around the critical path of projects – what milestones do you need to meet in order to deliver a project on time and on budget. At Ewood Park, this weekends potential relegation and continued demise all goes back to the Summer of 2012, the Summer following relegation from the Premier League. It was at this point in time that the wheels were set in motion for the club to end up in its current state. I’m not denying that there have been opportunities to realign the critical path and avoid the fate which potentially awaits the team, but ultimately, decisions made (or not made) that Summer are what will sentence the club to its fate.

Yes, you can argue that the demise started when the Venkys bought the club in November 2010, or even when they sacked Sam Allardyce later that year; but the line in the sand moment followed relegation in 2012 when there was an opportunity to start afresh, an opportunity for the Venkys to admit to their flaws and turn it around being the club drifted to far in to the abyss.

At the beginning of their first season in the Championship, the Blackburn Rovers squad was arguably better than the one that had been relegated, and better on paper than many teams promoted since. The signing of Danny Murphy was met with excitement: a midfielder confident on the ball who could unlock defences, with his old mate Dickson Euthu beside him to do his legwork and protect him; and once he’d picked that pass, the experienced Portuguese international Nuno Gomes to put the ball away or slide in the most prolific man in the Football League, Jordan Rhodes. At the very least, the team should’ve been challenging for the top 6.

That Summer in 2012, the Venkys spent serious money on both transfers and wages, investing in an attempt to get the club promoted at the first time of asking – but they made one big mistake; they kept Steve Kean.

Steve Kean will forever be seen as the man who oversaw the beginning of Blackburn’s downfall. Yes, he may have been a good coach, but he was not a manager. A bigger more self aware man would have resigned at the end of the 2010-11 season when Rovers stayed up on the last day, aware that he was in over his head, but he didn’t. Instead he stayed on and oversaw a horrendous 2011-12 campaign which ended in relegation. By not removing him from his position, but still investing, the Venkys may as well have burnt their money as there was no way the fans would get behind Kean and the team the way a team needs when they are pushing for promotion.

The Venkys had many viable reasons to sack Kean as well as his poor performance as a manager: his off the pitch issues regarding drink driving; the charges of slander from Sam Allardyce; and the continued unrest from the supporters – but they kept him in charge, and in doing so started the club along the critical path to where we are today.

That first season in the Championship when optimism about an immediate return should have been so high, and the quality of the pitch should have been so much better that the previous season, turned in to a shambles which saw 5 different men managing the team in some capacity over the season. Suffice to say, the opportunity was well and truly missed. Financially, the club has never recovered and the spending from that Summer has ultimately crippled the club.

As a result of the over spending without success, the wage budget has had to be slashed to a fraction of what it was in 2012 and has had to operate on a shoe-string transfer budget relying on freebies and loanees. For the 2016-17 season Rovers only paid a fee for one player, left back Derrick Williams, just over £200k – markedly different to the £8m spent on Jordan Rhodes.

Before the first game of the 2012-13 season against Ipswich Town, newly appointed Global Advisor Shebby Singh told fans that Kean was 3 straight defeats away from losing his job. This may have been an attempt to get the fans on site but it hardly got the fans behind the team; many seeing 3 losses as a necessary evil to rid the club of Kean once and for all. Surely if Singh wanted rid of Kean this should have been done in the Summer when there was good reason (relegation, drink driving, slander), leaving the club with the opportunity to bring in a manager experienced in the division and given them the funds (or even just the players) to get the team promoted. Kean eventually resigned from his position as manager after 4 wins in 6 to start the season (wins which ultimately kept us up as fate would have it), the night before the away game at Charlton Athletic, despite having travelled with the team, saying that his position had become “untenable” and he was no longer prepared to carry on as manager. How this became known to him only at 7pm the night before a fixture having travelling down to the hotel is beyond me, and is another examples of the mans selfishness and incompetence. At the time of his resignation Rovers had lost only one game (at home to Middlesbrough the game before) and they sat 4th in the table after a draw the following day at Charlton. What followed can only be described as a circus (2 different permanent managers and 3 caretaker stints which ultimately resulted in Rovers narrowly avoiding relegation). A modern season equivalent would be Rafa Benetiz leaving Newcastle, their big signings never being seen again, and Newcastle finishing the season they were supposed to get promoted, in 18th place.

It is as clear to see today as it was back in 2012 that what should have happened was Kean should have been sacked, at the latest in early Summer in 2012 (if not months before), and a fresh start made. A manager with experience of the Championship, or just with any managerial experience, would have given some hope of promotion with the squad assembles that summer. A Crystal Palace squad many had predicted to be fighting for survival won the pay-offs under Ian Holloway, and remain in the Premier League to this day. I can’t say who the appointment should have been but like a Steve Bruce, a Mick McCarthy, a Neil Warnock, or other similar manager with experience of promotion would have been perfect. We could have done worse than try and twist Souness’s arm to come out of retirement. In fact, when Michael Appleton left after his short stint, Mark Hughes was without a job and without many offers – he would have been ideal. Yes he would’ve cost money, but it would have been money well spent. He would have had the supporters on side immediately and looking upwards. Instead, when Kean finally left, we opted for Henning Berg who had no experience of management in England and limited experience elsewhere; and after Berg was sacked we opted even more inexperience in Michael Appleton; as boardroom unrest began – something which has continued to this day.

The team that played on the last day of the 2011-12 season consisted of: Kean, Olsson, Givet, Dann, Henley, Formica/Morris, Pedersen/Rochina, Olsson, Lowe, Hoilett and Yakubu. The one which started the first game of the next season in the Championship consisted of: Robinson, Lowe, Givet, Dann, Orr, Formica, Murphy, Etuhu, Pedersen, Gomes and Kazim-Richards. The team that got Crystal Palace promoted that same season: Speroni, Ward, Moxey, Delaney, Gabbidon, Dikgacoi, Garvan, Jedinak, Williams, Zaha and Wilbraham. Out of these 3 the one most likely for promotion surely has to be the one which started the 2012-13 campaign for Blackburn.

So as Newcastle head back to the Premier League it is through sad eyes that I think about what could have been had the right decisions been made back in 2012 – that could have been us. Who knows, had we got back in to the Premier League we may even have achieved that Champions League promise. Instead, we head in to this weekends fixtures knowing that realistically back to back wins are needed against Aston Villa and Brentford to have any chance of staying in the second tier.

Final note, as I have put this piece together, another level of Kean’s incompetence has become apparent. In that season we got relegated, Rovers took a young Frenchman on loan. He only made 9 appearances and failed to find the back of the net, but has since found the net 72 times in 154 games and sees himself 3rd in the top scorers list of the Bundesliga, behind only Robert Lewandowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. That man was a certain Anthony Modeste. In his first appearance for Rovers he won a penalty and rightly wanted to take it, only for David Dunn to take the ball off him and miss – if he’d took the penalty and scored, who knows what might have been…

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Re-heading the chickens

chicken

Today saw the third consecutive draw for Blackburn Rovers and the third time they had come from behind to grab a point – added to the win at Huddersfield preceding these games and that takes Blackburn to four unbeaten, 52 points, 12th place in the table and you would imagine, safety at least for this year, with an outside chance of making the play-offs, a very outside chance.

Looking back over the last three draws, the desire to remain in games must be seen – in contrast 12 months ago, and longer, had the team gone behind, the crowd would have turned, heads would have dropped and you could pretty much have written off any chances of getting anything from the game. At times, the crowd at Ewood, and to a lesser extent, the crowd at away games, were looking for reasons to get first on Steve Kean’s back, and then on the back of the owners. It is difficult to deny that such actions had a negative impact on the players on the pitch. At times last season I saw that it was hurting the players, particularly as they tumbled towards potential relegation. Last year there was a good likelihood that a poor run would result in a sacking for the manager – this year Gary Bowyer has been given time to put things right.

The job Gary Bowyer has had to undertake must not be underestimated. He has had to slash the wage bill to make the continued running of the club feasible, whilst maintaining a squad that can stay up as a minimum, and meet the expectations of the fans to push for promotion – all this, whilst contending with injuries and off-the-field issues around a number of players. Yet, as the end of March has arrived, the club are only 8 points off 6th place, with a game in hand – credit has to go to Bowyer and his staff for this.

Having said that, credit also has to go to the Venkys. They have let him get on with his job; not dragged him to India every two weeks; not had a ‘Global Advisor’ giving their two-pence every two minutes when things aren’t going right; and they have tried to bring stability back to the club they dissected it from. To add to this, they have continued to provide the funds to recruit players and pay the wages –albeit at a significantly reduced amount, but this is what the club needed. I think this reinforces the thoughts of some, that they were very poorly advised when they purchased the club and the information they were given was equally as poor.

Looking back, the sacking of Sam Allardyce is still seen by many as a very poor decision – but I disagree. Yes he would likely have kept us up that season, and the season after, and probably the season after that. But people forget that the football was appalling – playing for set pieces so that the ball could be pumped into the box and hope that it dropped for someone. Under Allardyce we would never have seen the creativity of the likes of Cairney, or the pace that Hoilett brought us, or the steady passing football from players composed on the ball, that we see at the minute. Look at West Ham – they won mid-week and yet still they were booed off the pitch as the standard of football was so poor. Sacking Allardyce wasn’t a bad decision by the Venkys, a worse decision was the man they chose to appoint replacement. Again though, I think they may have been poorly advised. What the club needed was someone with knowledge of the Premier League and how to get points on the board, but whilst also playing the game properly – look at the Premier League now and there are a number of teams in that mid-table bracket who will not go down, but who also like to get the ball down and play it. Route one isn’t the only option available to stay in the division.

This season there has been no sign at Ewood of Mr Shebby Singh and I think his removal by the Venkys is a good move, and has clearly let Gary Bowyer run his part of the club as he sees fit, and let the people upstairs do their job as well – without the fear of an outburst or bizarre comment in the press from the Malaysian (type Shebby Singh in to google and the second most searched item is “Shebby Singh funny comment” – says it all really).

Rather than a circus, the club is being run like a football club again – and being done so without any pretence of having to achieve promotion at all cost, and without the thought that we can spend our way back to the Premiership.

In my opinion, too much has been left to do to make the play-offs this year, and I don’t think promotion would be good for the club in the long term – the team is some way off Premier League standard – but the foundations are there. I would happily take 7th place and a season of stability and steady progress right now. If Bowyer can keep the current group together and make a few sensible additions (a permanent right back, cover at centre half, a creative midfielder), and move certain players on and off the wage bill, it will stand us in good stead for next season. I think giving Bowyer some spending money in the summer would also be a good idea – looking at the business he did in January (Gestede, Conway and Cairney) definitely shows he has an eye for a player and knows how he wants to play. Add to that a sprinkling of youth and I think we are very much on the right lines.

Given that the play-offs are most likely out of the question for this season, is there any harm in reviewing and ending some of the loans currently at the club and replacing them with some game-time for the youngsters coming through? Similarly, look down the road at Blackpool, and given a chance Goodwillie seems to have remembered were the net is – if he could be brought back in on goal scoring form, he could be like a brand-new signing.

So, credit where credit is due. When they first came in and for the 18-24 months following their arrival, the Venkys were subject to ridicule and criticism from all angles, but given that they have now let Bowyer and his team, and the people upstairs, get on with their jobs without interference, they deserve credit. They made a business investment and it went south and they tried looking for simple and quick solutions to get them back in the big league and get their money back – the only problem is that those decisions forced the club further in to the mire. However, it seems they have this season realised the error of their ways, and perhaps stop listening to the poor advice they received previously, and let those at the club get on with it. Hopefully, this will last and this new approach can spell good times ahead for Blackburn Rovers.

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Riches to rags, a Blackburn Rovers story

Back in the 1990’s Blackburn Rovers where the Manchester City or Chelsea of the then First Division – 20 years on and they teetering on the precipice of financial regulation and penalty. Where did it all go so wrong?

As the financial reports for the tax year to June 2013 are were published earlier this month, it did not make for good reading for Blackburn Rovers fans. Following relegation and a dismal showing last season, their mood was made no better by the news  that a club once renowned for its savvy dealings and operations on a relative shoe-string – once thought to be one of the best run clubs in the English game – was operating well outside of its means.

According to reports, the club currently has a wages to turnover ratio of 136%, meaning that it must find an additional £10m per year just to continue to pay the players and the staff employed by the club – not taking in to account transfers. Although last year the club posted, surprisingly, a profit over the year, this year’s report highlights a £36.5m loss.

When the Venky’s bought the Lancashire club and announced they would be signing big and dipping in to their deep pockets for the likes of Ronaldinho to propel the club to the Champions League within 2 years – many laughed. However, looking back now, they weren’t a million miles off, the only difference being that the money has been spent on a series of mistakes and the backing of bad advice and decisions. I wouldn’t be surprised if the amount spent on average, over the hill players, agents fees, manager and player pay-offs and court cases wasn’t near a magical sum that would bring you a Brazilian Superstar. And I don’t mean Bruno Ribeiro.

Anyone looking at the club 3 years ago would have a seen a club out-performing its town’s status, but doing so because it was so well run. A tight wage structure, a limit on transfer spending, and only spending the money on players deemed worthy of the shirt. Fast forward to the present day and not only are the names in the team relatively un-recognisable, the background staff have all changed, and with them the savvy running of the club. Instead of managing year upon year to pay the bills, with a financial structure which roughly made ends meet (turnover being the same as spending), we have a club trying to recover from nearly spiralling to League 2 and potential administration. It begs the question, where did it all go wrong? The simple answer is the sale of the club to foreign owners with no association or real interest in the club or town – but I think that would be unfair to the owners. They have obviously put their money where their mouths are and as a result shown a commitment, it is what they have spent that money on which has landed them in the current predicament.

1)      When they first bought the club, they signed the clubs stars up to new and improved contracts, you would imagine, to fend off interest from other clubs. The likes of Samba, Robinson, Salgado, Roberts and Nelson all received new deals, presumably on more money. Yet a few months down the line they were all sold, probably for nowhere near their value when the Venkys came in. The likes of Salgado, Nelson and Roberts went for nothing and before this, were seemingly not allowed to play for the club. During this time there is a good chance that the clubs wage structure was changed, impacting on the wages to turnover ratio; and combine this with poor performances, which could arguably have been improved had those who were ‘injured’ played , the situation with the league table could have been different – reflecting higher prize money come the end of the season.

2)      One of the Venkys first big money actions was to bring Roque Santa Cruz in on loan from Manchester City for six months, at the price of paying his £90k a week from January until May (roughly over a million pounds in wages). The wage structure was well and truly shattered, and to make matters worse, he didn’t even score a single goal, possibly not a single assist at the same time.

3)      Following relegation from the Premier League, part of the master plan for immediate redemption was to hire Malaysian football guru Shebby Singh, on a reported £1m-a-year salary. The impact he had was phenomenal: he alienated and insulted one of the longest serving players at the club; backed Steve Kean and his Portuguese scouting network; orchestrated the sacking of at least one manager; and generally just poked his beak in when it wasn’t needed. The best times last season and this season have been when he has been on the other side of the world, unable to meddle in club affairs.

4)      The second action following relegation from the top flight was to recruit experienced pros capable of steering a young team back to the Premier League. At the time, I don’t think you will find many Blackburn Rovers fans who were not at least slightly optimistic of the season ahead with Danny Murphy, Nuno Gomes and Dickson Etuhu. However, as the season unfolded the players saw less and less game time, and in the case of Murphy, seemed less and less interested in performing for the club (when news broke last month that he had retired from football I was shocked – I though this had happened 10 months ago). These players again came in on high salaries to help with Steve Kean’s ‘project’ but were unable/unwilling to cope with the physical and mental demands of a long Championship season. Couple this with the large pay-offs Murphy and Gomes have received over this summer just to get them off the books, and you have a double financial hit. It was an almost “gamble or bust strategy” but in the end they got neither and are right back where they started from, perhaps in a worse predicament having spent the money and achieved nothing.

5)      Since they bought the club numerous rumours have conspired and progressed in to conspiracy theories – one of the most common, shared and publicised is the role of agents in the running of Blackburn Rovers. Rumours have suggested that certain groups played a large part in the buying of the club and have subsequently been rewarded with business for their players, others argue that they, for a short time, were the ones running the club and making the decisions. Either way, the £3.5m spent on agents fees in the summer running up to their first season in the Championship is atrocious. What is even more worrying is the players that were signed at that time – the only one with any positive impact on the club was Jordan Rhodes, and to be honest, any fee was worthwhile as he single-handedly kept the club in the division last time out. At times, the fees received by agents were significantly more than the fee paid for the player, which in many cases was £0.00p. An untapped market Mr Kean????

6)      Perhaps the most significant contributor to the financial situation is the unrest behind the scenes up in the boardroom. Starting with Kean – the man was rewarded for failure. He took the club down a division, decimated gates in the process and alienated lifelong supporters, yet was rewarded with a new contract, which, if had lasted the duration, would have earned him a reported £14.9m, based on a £1m per year standard salary increasing annually depended on performance. The only good thing he did for the club financially was resign, costing the club only £500,000 rather than potential millions. The Venkys are not blameless here though – they passed up multiple options and times to sack him, before offering him a new contract: slander towards Allardyce, poor team performance, loss of fans (gates dropped by 7,500 during his tenure), and drink driving offences – yet they continued to support and reward him to a point where a bond with the lifeblood of the club, its supporters, was nearly broken.

Once Kean had gone, they still did not learn from their mistakes – anyone looking in could see the club needed an experienced manager to either steady the ship or build a team capable of challenging for promotion, but instead they brought in ex-player and fan favourite Henning Berg who was untested at this level and in this country, and then rookie Michael Appleton who had done nothing to suggest he was capable of either of those things. To make matters worse, both were sacked and paid off accordingly (£2.25m for Berg and £500,000 for Appleton) – yet more money that did not need to spent. At least now they seem to be giving Bowyer the chance to do things his way and without interfering or suggesting his position was under consideration. This may be a realisation that things couldn’t continue the way they were, or it may be their only option given the financial situation.

7)      The biggest mistake of them all – putting John Williams in a position where he no longer found a use for himself at the club. The man had run the club on solid footing for numerous years and made it one of the most attractive clubs for any manager, as well as the best-case example of how to run a football club. Yet upon buying the club, the Venkys used him for less and less tasks and functions, to the point where he no longer saw a need to be employed by the club. He left and went o Manchester City who subsequently won the league and have curbed their spending – coincidence, I think not.

If Blackburn post a loss of more than £8m by the end of this season, they will be hit with a transfer embargo. If this happens and the club have won promotion, they will be fined considerably. The worry on Blackburn fans minds is that the only way to make the £10-15m extra needed to keep running the club is to sell its prize assets, one in particular, Jordan Rhodes. If that happens, promotion will not happen, and along with it, all the good work undertaken by Bowyer completely forgotten. It is a sticky situation the owners have found themselves in, but it is all their own doing. As a reported billion pound business, you would expect better. Let’s hope they have the business knowledge to avoid the impending sanctions, or at least a contingency to get the club back on its feet.

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Circus Master Bowyer

As expected in many circles, this week Gary Bowyer was named as the permanent manager of Blackburn Rovers, on a 12 month rolling contract. Becoming the fourth man to be given the role in the last twelve months, and following two relatively successful stints as caretaker during the 2012-13 season.
For many Blackburn fans, this is seen as a good decision, seeing Bowyer, a Blackburn Rovers man, given the job on a more permanent basis. During his seven years at the club he has been successful as both a youth academy coach and then reserve team coach, before his time in the Ewood hot-seat. Think back to twelve months ago, and these same fans had a very different view of the then ‘coach’ Steve Kean – with many arguing that Blackburn needed an experienced manager and not just someone who had a good reputation when it came to putting out and collecting cones (and later driving penalty points!). So why is it different this time, and is Bowyer the best man for the job?
The 2012-13 season started so brightly for Blackburn, but turned sour after the summer and ended in a nightmare which very nearly resulted in a second consecutive relegation; with Bowyer being the man to steady the ship twice. Kean had long been the villain at Blackburn, and the fact he had originally been a coach, and then given the manager’s job with no previous experience, angered many fans. Then the appointments of Berg and Appleton, two men with relatively no experience of managing at the top levels, did nothing to win the fans around – with many sections of the crowd again asking for experience, over what was perceived as the cheaper option (in the case of Berg, this did not turn out to be the case).
With the above in mind, it does seem somewhat fickle, strange and contradictory that these fans then want the appointment of a Bowyer – a man with 13 games experience of being a manager, and little experience of direct first team coaching at any club. You could arguably say that the size and detail of content of a man’s Wikipedia page says a lot about their reputation, success and experience – Bowyers is just 460 words long.
Then again this is a tough situation for the Blackburn fans that have been pillared for voicing their opinions around a manager in the past. Do they stick to their guns and continue their pursuit of experience? Or do they give the man who steered them to safety the chance to show what he can do? It is a catch 22 situation.
I am personally of the opinion that Blackburn missed a trick by not appointing Mick McCarthy when he was free before he took the Ipswich role – or at least another manager of similar experience. But as said, I do believe Bowyer should be given the chance – I think the 12-month rolling contract he has been given perhaps reflects that the owners are of a similar view. At least on this occasion they do not seem to have rocked the boat too much.
What Bowyer will bring to the team, as we witnessed last season, is a togetherness, a view on playing attractive and attacking football and a chance for the more technical players to be given a chance. For a start, this appointment could, and should, mean a return for the two number 10’s Ruben Rochina and Mauro Formica, who should thrive under his leadership. It should also spell the beginning of allowing younger players experience in the first team – what Bowyer needs to do though, is ensure that the youth is blended with the right experience and at the right consistency. Last season should have served to show the team and bank account holders that paying large wages to players perhaps on the cusp of the hill, is not the way to do this.
One thing that has to happen is that Bowyer must be left to do it his way. He cannot be told who he can or can’t sign and who he can, can’t or must sell. Similarly, he should be able to pick any of the players on the books at Ewood to ensure the team that is on the pitch is the best eleven players in those positions at the club – not the eleven players who don’t have appearance bonuses or contract extension requirements. In my opinion, Shebby Singh needs to disappear in to the background again and maybe buy a Spurs season ticket to keep him out of trouble – something tells me that he won’t.
Bowyer needs to be given time and support – he may not be the most experienced manager in the league but everyone needs to start somewhere. Perhaps, for hope and inspiration around the appointment Blackburn should look to the careers of Jose Mourinho, Andre Villas Boas, Roberto Di Matteo and others who have achieved success in the early parts of their managerial careers.

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Safety first

As the curtains close on another Championship season, Blackburn Rovers just about avoided a second successive relegation – just about. But does this reflect a very poor season? A season reflective of the off-field antics? Or a season of consolidating?

At the beginning of the year, before even a ball was kicked, most Blackburn fans would tell you that the Play-Offs where an absolute minimum, with many eyeing up second place and automatic promotion. Fast forward to February/March time, and those same fans would happily have taken finishing 21st on goal difference. The Championship is the most gruelling league in the world, and it can be the cruelest, as Peterborough found out yesterday when they were in the bottom three for three minutes – unfortunately for them it was the last three minutes.

Blackburn started the league well with wins and draws keeping them in the top six up until September, albeit the performances did not warrant this, then the merry-go-round started with Steve Kean claiming his position was untenable with people calling for his head after a home defeat to Middlesbrough, who at the time were flying, and them him resigning. This was followed by a consolidatory period under Eric Black were we didn’t win so many games, but we didn’t lose too many. Then in came Berg and the hopes of a romantic relit love match with him being the man to guide us back to the Premiership – but it wasn’t to be and he was sacked after a poor run of results seeing him pick up one win in ten and then his P45 after just 57 days. Step up Gary Bowyer, reserve team manager. He did what he was asked and steered Blackburn through to the next round of the cup, and to three wins and a draw in his four games – a feat which it seemed would see him remain in the post indefinitely, potentially until the end of the season – within the week, Michael Appleton was poached from neighbours Blackpool. Appleton’s reign resumed much of the mediocre performances that were witnessed under Berg – except, he removed a lot of players sending them out on loan or cancelling their contracts – the result of which was a return to Allardyce hoof-ball tactics, to a striker who plays best with the ball to his feet. Appleton’s reign last a lengthy 67 days and consisted of four wins, five draws and six defeats, including a poor showing in an FA Cup Quarter final and last-minute equalizer against Burnley. Step up again Mr Bowyer – with the team dropping towards the foot of the Championship at a rate of knots, Bowyer was again asked to steady the ship and set a course for dry land – a task he completed with a game to spare with the club finishing 17th, four points above the drop. Other items of note during the season on the pitch are pretty much confined to Jordan Rhodes, who equaled a consecutive scoring club record, and finished second top goal scorer with just one behind Glenn Murray; another shining light was the performances of Scott Dann who featured in all Blackburn’s games, and the progress made by the young Scot Grant Hanley.

So that is on the pitch, what about off the pitch? It can be argued, with some ferocity, that the reason for Blackburn’s poor league showing was the off the field issues – starting with Shebby Singh setting Steve Kean an ultimatum, through to the dragging of the club’s name through the Courts as the owners defended their right to not pay Henning Berg all his compensation for an early holiday. Sandwiched inbetween these two incidents included: a slander case as Kean made accusationary comments about former boss Allardyce; resignations; sackings; the appointment of a general manager and an operational director; claims of agents running the club; fan ownership issues; chickens on the pitch; the managing director told to stay away from the club; the managing director offering contracts he didn’t have the authority to and issues ‘untrue’ press statements on the clubs website; release of the details of players wages; managers being sacked by PA letter – the list goes on.

I think you could easily argue the case that regardless of the performances on the pitch, the club was never going to get an instant return to the Premiership, and arguably, they didn’t deserve to given the way they were being run.

So what is the solution to get Blackburn Rovers fighting at the top of the league for promotion? I don’t think the answer is the removal of the owners – they have the commitment and they have proved this through the amount of money (rumoured to be £20m) that they have pumped in to the club, but I think they have been very poorly advised – by whom, I’m not too sure. Given the amount of money it takes to run BRFC a fan owned club could be a disaster from a financial point of vie. Here is my 5 point plan for promotion in 2013-14: –

  1. Keep Jordan Rhodes, and keep him fit;
  2. If the Venkys are staying, they need to appoint a CEO to run the club properly at this end (I’d personally start grovelling to John Williams now);
  3. Transparency – make clear who is making the decisions at the club – to often statements have been released with muddy the water around who is actually running the club and making the decisions;
  4. Attend more games and show more commitment – you can hire as many PR companies as you want – the best form of PR in this instance is commitment and open communication;
  5. Hire a manager proven in this league to get the wheels turning from the start and push towards the play-offs. This needs to be done quickly, as they don’t hang around for long*;
  6. Let the manager do their job – from picking the team, to scouting and buying players, to offering new contracts – if the Venkys are committed to getting the club back up, they need to let the manager do things his way with pressures around contracts.

It sounds simple, and it should be, but it is a measure of how far from grace the club has fallen, that these things need to be spelt out to the club. Another season of turmoil off the pitch could very realistically result in relegation.

* Although point 5 states that a proven manager is required, there are rumours that Jorge Jesus, current Benfica manager, would like to manage in the Premiership, or at an ambitious Championship club. Given the number of young Portuguese players, and the alleged ambition of the clubs owners, could this be the ideal fit for him? Given that he has guided Benfica to the Europa League final and is unbeaten in the league this years says the man knows his way around a tactics board – but does this also mean he is hot property around ‘bigger’ clubs in Europe?

Divine intervention: Jesus wants to move to the Premier League.. after leaving  Benfica

http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/transfer-news/jorge-jesus-wants-move-premier-1795034#ixzz2SQ3yNW00

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All PR is good PR

The definition of PR – Public Relations – is: “Public relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics” (www.cipr.co.uk). Good PR is what all businesses and any organisation in the public eye strive for. Companies can spend millions of ensuring that the way they are perceived is nothing but positive.

On the 14th of January this year, Blackburn Rovers enlisted the help/services of a sports PR company to improve their media image. Since then, two managers have been sacked, a transfer window has passed, numerous players have left the club, the club reached an FA Cup quarter final, and finally, rumours have surfaced that Derek Shaw has been asked to stay away from the club. These are the tip of the iceberg. All the above can arguably only be seen as negative actions and items affecting the club – which raises the question: “what exactly are the PR company being paid to do?

The latest event at the Ewood Park circus saw rumours surface that Derek Shaw, the clubs managing director, had been told to stay at home as investigations were undertaken in to the terms of former manager Henning Berg’s contract and sacking. I heard this rumour in the early morning, yet there was no response from the club until late afternoon – to be fair, I didn’t expect to see any response, so maybe this is a step in the right direction?!

Since Appleton took charge in January he has been the main voice from the club, the way it should be. But since his sacking, Shebby Singh has been back in the frame, trying to earn his keep. Under Appleton, there was at least a glimmer of stability as he made the points the fans have known for a long time: the club is built on quicksand; some players are here for a final pay packet – to name a few. Shebby Singh stands for all the things wrong with Blackburn Rovers at the minute, and this can be summed up in one radio interview, when asked what his role was, his response was a laughing “I’m not telling” – and that is the closest we have ever got to understanding what he gets paid a lot of money to do.

Looking at the bigger picture, the role of the Venkys can also be questioned: why did they buy the club? What is their intentions for the club? Since they made the purchase the club has suffered relegation; sold its best players; been subject to mass media attention for protests against manager and owners; sacked four managers; and turned the club in to the biggest laughing-stock in English, maybe even European, football (I can’t think of a worse situation?!). I personally believe that the Venkys bought the club with the best intentions, but they have been very poorly advised, back to before they even purchased the club. The fact they have been willing to stump up the cash to bring in experienced players of the likes of Danny Murphy and Nuno Gomes, and spend £8m on Jordan Rhodes, does show that they want the club to succeed. However, on the other side of the coin, hiring Shebby Singh along with Derek Shaw and Paul Agnew, and allowing the in-fighting to take place and be pretty much public knowledge has to be put down to either poor business management, or not knowing the product and keeping an ear to the ground – from Pune, you would have to have pretty good ears. The fact that they did not make the trip for the clubs biggest rivalry, or for the FA Cup quarter finals, shows a lot about their commitment – the only time they have been to Ewood this season was when it coincided with a pre-planned holiday. I bet the hatcheries and restaurants get more direct attention. That said though, if there aim was to buy Blackburn Rovers as a means to launch the Venkys chain in to the UK, you would have to say it would be a massive failure, unless they launched in Burnley, where they would be greeted as heroes for the way they have allowed the club to tumble-down the leagues.

At the time of writing, Blackburn occupy a relegation place in 22nd – a point from safety but a game in hand. However, with remaining games against Derby (H), Huddersfield (H), Watford (A), Millwall (A), Crystal Palace (H) and Birmingham (A) – winning the next two games is crucial id we are to have any chance of survival, or it could be a local derby against Preston next year, not Burnley. The question of Venkys continued ownership is perhaps more pertinent now than ever. They have agreed to pay the current squad the terms of their contract – if they were to leave should the club get relegated, and hypothetically sell to the Supporters Trust, could they, or anyone else buying a League 1 club, afford to pay the rumoured £30-40k a week wages? I can’t help but think of the likes of Portsmouth and Leeds and their plight both on the pitch and at the banks.

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Gone in 67 days

circus

 

As Albert Einstein famously declared, the true sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – if this is so, somebody call the asylum because we have mad people at Ewood. Yet the Venkys and their puppets at Ewood have taken this to the extreme – Steve Kean, a man who took the club down, lied, sold the teams best players, caused protests and alienated the fans was given all the time in the world to do what he wanted, until he eventually decided this wasn’t for him after two years in the job, accompanied by a relegation; yet two managers who have had the support of the fans, not been booed to the extent that Kean was, are handed their P45 after 57 and 67 days? I for one have not been happy with the style of football under Appleton, and likewise was not with Berg, but these people need to be given time, the asset Steve Kean had in abundance – Henning Berg didn’t even get a transfer window, Appleton had just got his backroom staff sorted (which is also more than Berg managed in its entirety!). To put this in perspective, in one season Blackburn Rovers have had more managers than Manchester United have had since 1977.

The last week hadn’t been the best for Blackburn Rovers following a dismal showing in an FA Cup quarter final which could have seen them meet Wigan at Wembley, and the performance against Burnley was nowhere near what is expected in a local derby, and we should have been beaten – but we weren’t. That last minute goal by David Dunn made the point feel like 3, it kept the record going, and it also got the fans moving in the same direction again – all which points to the potential for momentum to build – but it wasn’t to be. No sooner had the dust settled on the damaged toilets, had Appleton been handed his marching orders by a revitalised Shebby Singh, fresh from a legal briefing. The club find themselves 4 points outside the relegation zone, with no manager, a massive injury list and the inability to sign players – at 10/1 relegation looks like a good investment. What the club needs at this moment in time is stability and a manager who is not afraid to challenge what has gone before and put his stamp on the football club – exactly what Appleton was doing. Maybe this was his downfall. Maybe he had done too much; maybe he had challenged the golden boy; maybe he had played players he wasn’t supposed to. I don’t think it a coincidence that in the days and week before his sacking he had talked of the club being built and run on quicksand, and David Dunn claiming that he had been fit to play during the season but not played due to non-footballing reasons – we can all see that this is the problem with the club, Appleton only voiced these concerns. It would not surprise me if Dunn picked up another injury during the international break, ruling him out until the end of the season when he can be released from his contract. Paul Robinson has today been ruled out for the season due to him needing a back operation, probably from the amount of time he has spent sat at home recently, or maybe this is the warning to Gary Bowyer: “follow Appleton’s tactics and you’ll be gone too”.

Cast your memories back to the period between Christmas and New Year and the victory at Barnsley and that “you know” interview – how much have we heard from Mr Singh in the interim? Ask yourself another question: how many of the players he was key to bringing in have now left the club either permanently or on loan, or who have been left out of the squad completely? Murphy, Etuhu and the Portuguese youth club to start with. As soon as Agnew and Shaw made their decision he was gone, nowhere to be seen. Adding to this, were have The Sports PR Company been this week at a time when they should be busiest – all the fans get is a 5 line statement on the website – to be honest, I’m surprised its even written in English. During his hiatus, Singh is said to have been gathering legal advice to challenge even the appointment of Appleton, claiming that as they didn’t have his backing, the appointment wasn’t lawful. Secondly, he has looked at the contracts for his players which have been dispersed from the club, rumoured to be because he wants them back. the point Singh is missing is that maybe he is the problem. He is too much of a Venkys man and he has been given too much power. The structure of any football club is usually owners, chairman (if different), directors, manager, coaching staff, players – yet at Blackburn Rovers the owners are invisible, we then have the Chuckle Brothers Derek Shaw and Paul Agnew as Managing and Operations Director, and now no manager. If you consult the rovers website, and direct yourself to the “who’s who” section, there is not even a mention of Shebby Singh, the man who, lets face it, is back to running the club. It seems that Agnew and Shaw, the Venkys, and Shebby Singh have each had a go at picking the manager, all picking a candidate against the others wishes, and all of them screwing it up – to the point that the man who has to steady the ship is someone who has been there all along – just like the fans.

This is going to be controversial, but I’m going to put a question out there – should we have kept Steve Kean? The statistics over his time at Ewood and the impact he had give a resounding NO, but looking at how he did in the Championship, we weren’t doing too bad and we definitely weren’t close to relegation, and knowing Kean, he would’ve had got us promoted just to spite us (and then probably taken us back down!). The turmoil which has ensured has been nothing short of a joke, a circus, and a shambles. Let’s not forget though, Kean wasn’t sacked, he walked, and ultimately left us in this mess, and he has probably laughed his way to the bank ever since. It’s easy for outsiders to say we should’ve kept Kean, and it’s easy to reminisce and look at the league table, but the football wasn’t good (apart from 20 minutes at Leeds) and we were winning games we shouldn’t have to the extent the kit bag was coming out the changing rooms with ‘SWAG’ emblazoned on it – the league table was Kean’s ally in the same way it has been Berg’s and Appleton’s worst enemy.

What should have happened at Ewood over the last 12 months, was that Kean should have been given the boot last May, or walked knowing he had failed the club and its fans. An experienced manager should’ve been brought in to first steady the ship, sort the wage structure out and set his scouts about. That manager should’ve been back to a comfortable extent (not the £40k a week wages we are now being told about for experienced/passed it players to sit on the bench) and left to go about his business, no targets set and no deadlines or ultimatums. I’m not saying I know who that manager should have been, but I do not it wasn’t Steve Kean and it certainly wouldn’t have involved hiring a Global Advisor. Hopefully the Venkys will get another chance at this and Gary Bowyer will steer the club clear of relegation and then an experienced manager can come in get to work. Better still, the Venkys might give the chance to someone else who has the clubs best interest at heart. In the last two weeks Blackburn Rovers have played in two FA Cup Quarter Finals with the chance to get to Wembley and played their fiercest local rivals, and at not one of these games was a member of the Rao family been present, or even the clubs Global Advisor Shebby Singh (the FA Cup is global – should he not have been there advising?). Compare this to Wigan Athletic down the road and Dave Whelan is there week in and week out, even giving interviews to voice his opinion and support of the manager – at Ewood Park, this concept is as foreign as those in ownership of the club.

If I was to predict the team for next Friday’s crucial match against Blackpool (not pick it, predict it) I would have to say that Danny Murphy will be back in there, Nuno Gomes will be back in there (which I DO agree with), Dunn will not be there and neither will Campbell, Stewart or possibly Jones. If this turns out to be the case, get yourself to the bookies and take that 10/1 bet.

If I could have ten minutes with the Venkys, I would ask the following: –

  • Who is running Blackburn Rovers Football Club on a day-to-day basis, and making the decisions on directions, signings and overseeing operations?
  • What is Shebby Singh’s role and do you think he has fulfilled it?
  • Why do we never see you at games?
  • Why do we never get anything in the form of communication?
  • Are you really interested in the performance of the club?
  • Why did you buy Blackburn Rovers?
  • Do you regret buying Blackburn Rovers?
  • If you could do things differently, would you and how?
  • How long do you intend to stay owners of Blackburn Rovers football club?
  • If we are relegated again, will you sell the club?

whos who

 

 

 

 

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The Cirque de Soleil Ewood Continues….

Picture the scene, a Premier League club, such as West Ham, are bought out by a, lets say, American organisation famous for selling tea. They come in and within 2 months their manager is sacked, although they sit in a relatively steady mid-table position, completely out of the blue. Instead of installing a high-profile or experienced Premiership or European manager – they promote a first team coach with no managerial experience, a figure only few will recognise the name of, lets say someone of the ilk of Ian Hendon. The team bundle along and find themselves in a relegation battle come the final two months of the season, but fans are slightly put at ease with the news that a number of star players have extended their contracts, and a couple of exciting youngsters brought in from the likes of Barcelona (although it is rumoured the agents fees paid in the deals amount to more than the transfer fees themselves). It goes to the final game of the season but thankfully they produce their best performance since the new coach took charge and they stay up.

Many fans think that having steered the club to safety, just, but in doing so, having proved maybe they are not the best management materials, the coach will be asked to take a step back, and a more suitable and experienced manager will come – but no, they are kept in the job and given money to spend – meanwhile, a number of key squad players leave for next to nothing. The season starts to protests from the fans who believe the coach is not the man for the job, amid rumours of other players leaving the club. As predicted by protesting fans the start is slow and they find themselves in a relegation battle within weeks of the start of the season – added to this, a number of key and experienced players are no longer featuring, not even on the bench, instead, youngsters from the youth team are being called up to deliver the goods in important games, rumours rife that the owners want shut of the players and do not wish to pay appearance bonuses. Come the January transfer window more key players, including the club captain and vice captain are sold, one of which being allowed to leave with a statement that they will not play again this season, that player played in their new teams first game. Next to no money was spent on the struggling team. The manager maintaining that he is the man for the job. The team continue their downfall and even take part in a game where they do not have a single shot, on target or off target – the manager quoting that he felt he set his team up correctly, the same manager who forfeited a game in the cup at Cardiff, the winning of which could potentially have led to a trip to Wembley. The end of the season comes and with a game to spare, the club are relegated with a whimper, losing in their last home game of the season.

Now the fans believe the manager must go, but no, he keeps his job and is given a war chest to deliver promotion. A new Managing Director and Operations Director are appointed, along with, potentially more importantly a , a ‘Global Advisor’, earning a reported £400k is appointed – a former Malaysian footballer turned pundit, who a few months earlier had given reservation about the American tea company and their running of the club. The Advisors first contribution; he calls an experienced professional footballer a pensioner and says the manager has six games to keep his job – both of which he retracted, but confirmed there would be a points target at certain points of the season. The start is good and the team find themselves top of the league, but more  by luck than skill as performances are poor, but still, the team remains unbeaten after 7 games but then a home defeat, the first defeat of the season – the manager has not reached a points target, but he remains in his job. Then the coach decides enough is enough and resigns stating he was forced to make the decision and his position was untenable. Time for a fresh start, but the start is slow in coming, the number two takes charge and keeps the ship steady until, nearly two months later, a former player, with limited experience in management, and no English managerial experience is appointed. The results don’t pick up and 57 days later, the club lying in the bottom half of the table only a few points off the bottom of the table, the new manager is sacked just days before the transfer window opens, along with the majority of the coaching staff. The Global Advisor reportedly takes training with a former movie star, lets say Tom Cruise for arguments sake, and the Chairman, from his tea company office, states that a manager will be named after the next game and that they do have Premier League experience.

This is a summary and does not include all the details of goings on during the American Tea Company’s tenure, other things to consider include: –

  • The reported/rumoured inference of a football agent in the dealings of the club, including his own son being signed, after being deemed not good enough for the Scottish leagues;
  • A mid-season trip to Pune;
  • The implemented coach being forced to travel to Pune every couple of weeks to report on progress;
  • A drunk drive and a slander charge for the implemented coach – the slander being in the direction of the his former boss;
  • Meeting of fans with politicians and concerns being raised in Parliament;
  • The creation of numerous fan action groups;
  • The signing of numerous Portuguese players out of the blue;
  • The signing of a late twenties Brazilian defender on a long-term deal, but never playing in his debut season;
  • Rumours of bids for Ronaldhino;
  • Commitments to be in the Champions League within two years of the new owners taking charge;
  • No communications from the club on any issues, despite continued attempts from fans and media;

Finally, when taking over the club, the American Tea company lead to the removal of all the backroom staff amid rumours that there was nothing for them to do at the club, pointing the finger at the agent being heavily involved in the club, despite him continuously denying this.

Would the Football Association let this happen right before their eyes?

This story is obviously not about West Ham United, and is about Blackburn Rovers – but the point remains the same, if this was to happen to a more fashionable club, or a club from the capital, would they be left to suffer in silence? Their fans pillared for protesting against the poor running of the club and forecasting relegation? I think not.

Lets remember that only 3 years ago, this club was seen as one of the best run in football, the manager’s job seen as one of the better jobs to take. The club are now a laughing-stock. The fans and club realise that they are not going to challenge for the title like they had in the 1990’s, but they deserve better. They plough their hard-earned money in to the once family club (in previous years the majority of spending on wages and transfers has been funded by ticket sales) only to be ignored and abused in the press – the press who very rarely give more than a thought to their suffering. The Chairman stating that they love the fans but that they should ‘just support the team’.

So this leads us to the current situation: the team are managerless; relatively coachless; a global advisor is taking training with a former Bollywood star; the Managing Director and Operations Director have been summoned to Pune, India; the team sit near the bottom of the Championship; and the transfer window opens in only a matter of days – yet the Chairman says he still believes promotion is achievable.

The role of the Global Advisor needs to be questioned, other than commenting on issues that do not need his input (leading to conflict and negative press), his contributions have been minimal – although you could say he has put most of his efforts in to jumping in bed with a certain fan group, arguably to keep them ‘on-side’, particularly in times of need. His decisions in the past regarding appointments have been questionable, especially when you look at the ultimate goal of instant promotion to the Premier League. Yet now he takes first team training – has this been his plan all along? Has he always had desires on managing the club? Either way, in my eyes, he needs to do more to earn his salary.

I have no idea who the next manager will be, but I can tell you now it will not be a shock to me whoever gets the job, as nothing that happens at or around Blackburn Rovers surprises me anymore – and that is the sad thing.

 roversblog

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The Hottest Hot Seat in Football

As I sit at my desk at work my personal phone rings, I answer and am greeted by a voice I have never heard before.

“Hello, this is Shebby Singh. We have seen the good work you did with the AC Milan side of the early naughties and the fantastic job you did with Dundee in the late nineties – winning the UEFA cup 4 years on the bounce, along with 3 scudettos and a Copa Italia, is no easy feet; similarly, getting the Dee to the semi-final of the Champions League back in 1999 is an achievement not to be mocked. The way you established a rapor with both the fans and the chairman from day one is a great management tool and one which no doubt laid the foundations for your successes. I’d like to talk to you about the vacant managers role at Ewood Park – your management history has identified you as our prime candidate to take the club back to the glory days”…….

Given my Championship Manager track record, this is I must say, is the way I imagine the phone-call would go should Mr Singh look at my track record – in reality, unfortunately, I don’t think I’d even make the long list (I haven’t even added my real-life credentials as assistance manager to no less than 4 7-a-side league titles). The scary thing about the reality of the situation at Blackburn is that they could appoint anyone to take the reins – it would not surprise me if the owners and their global advisor decided to make ‘their own’ decision when making the appointment – once again neglecting the opinion of the paying fans at the club. Have they not suffered enough? Worryingly, the more time goes on without an appointment, the more I think they may be steering towards offering Eric Black the job.

Don’t get me wrong, he seems to be a very good coach, and those in the business have only good words to say about him – but haven’t we been here before with Steve Kean? Was he not a brilliant coach who the players respected and learnt from on the touchline? Did Black not also take Sunderland under to the Championship, albeit only in a caretaker role, when the captain had already jumped ship?

Looking at the fore runners for the job, I honestly could not pick someone. The exotic names of Schuster, Trappatoni and Eriksson I think can be ruled out as pipe dreams, or nightmares whichever way you look at it. The fans favourites of Sherwood, Shearer, Flitcroft, Tugay and/or Jansen would be well advised to steer away from the disaster zone – they would undoubtedly get the bums back on seats but this could be a major stumbling block on the first steps towards management, not to mention they only have limited experience – on experience, you would have to give the job to Flitcroft and Jansen who have been at Chorley now for a while.

So what of the others: –

  • Roy Keane – on paper looks like a good prospect, but look at the bank balance he was responsible for when getting Sunderland promoted, and look at the less than average job he did at Ipswich when given the same goal. On the flip side, he would stand up to the owners and do it his own way.
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – has done well in the Norwegian league and turned the chance to join Villa in the summer. You have to wonder: why would he turn down the premiership to then join the Championship? Again, he is a bit of a gamble as he is an unknown quantity on these shores.
  • Karl Robinson – was number two to Ince at Ewood and was said to be a favourite with the owners early in the season when Kean’s ultimatum was set. Looking at the way Blackburn sacked Ince, and the good work he has done with MK Dons, would he take the risk of promotion when in reality he may be playing MK Dons next season anyway?

In my eyes I think Mick McCarthy would do a job and get us promoted or at least on the verge of promotion. He is a no-nonsense man and will tell the fans how it is – he is definitely not a yes man. However, you could say that these attributes make him boring and that his style of playing is hardly Barcelona – that said, last season he was the only man who could have got Wolves out of trouble.  His tactics and play can hardly be as dull and monotonous as Big Sam’s – but still I don’t think the fans would warm to him, and his appointment could, at least in the short-term, result in fans staying away.

What I suggest is a compromise. The old with the new. The rough with the smooth. What I would go for is a mixture of Mick McCarthy’s experience with the fresh approach of a fan favourite, such as Sherwood or Shearer. That way the club could get the best of both worlds and in the process start the development of a young talent – a development which, if successful, would be aligned with the rising of Blackburn Rovers from the ashes. The fan favourite would get the fans back in the stands and would also go some way to rebuilding the bond between fans and the club, although maybe not the owners, who are held responsible by many for the downfall of the former Premier League Champions.

Whoever it is they decide to appoint, they need to do it with relative swiftness. Since Kean left we have achieved only 2 points from a possible 9 which has seen the club plummet to 9th in the league. It could be said that by resigning unexpectedly, Kean is having the last laugh as his ‘successful’ Championship team falls from grace, making the push for promotion an uphill task.

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The last laugh

A month has now passed at Ewood Park since Steve Kean decided to call it a day – whether he was jumped or pushed still remains unknown.

It was expected that the departure of Kean would result in a mass pilgrimage back to Ewood Park to once again get behind the team. The first game, Wolves at home was witnessed by 17,034, which marked a significant increase on the 13,405 who witnessed the defeat by Middlesbrough two weeks earlier, but the outcome was the same – a defeat.

Since his decision to leave the club, Blackburn have played 4 games and picked up only 2 points, dropping 10. Looking at the team that start the season and went unbeaten, Blackburn are lucky to be only 2 points off the play-offs, and 5 points off automatic – but arguably all the games were winnable: an away trip to newly promoted Charlton, a mid-week trip to Nottingham Forrest, a home game to relegated Wolves, and an away game at struggling Derby – at least a minimum of 8 points would be what the fans would have been expecting. During this time, we have had an international break meaning now games were played for nearly two weeks, surely when looking to appoint a new manager this is the time – no players in the club, relatively little interference, and the majority of the press focussing attentions elsewhere – but not at Blackburn Rovers.

Thirty days have now passed since Kean’s resignation, that is a full month, and we are no closer to knowing who the next manager will be – and with neighbours Bolton and Burnley also looking for a new manager, the selection and appointment is arguably even more difficult. The only difference being that since parting with their managers, Bolton and Burnley have both picked up more points.

Who is having the last laugh? Had Kean been sacked, instead of resigning, it would have shown that the club had had enough of the poor football, the poor tactics, the poor signings and the ridiculous alleged (and confirmed) lies which Kean spouted – but he wasn’t sacked, he left of his own accord, and by taking this decision, had one last dig at the club, leaving it further in the mire.

Given that Kean had recently been to India and had been told his job was safe, and given that the Board knew nothing of his resignation or his intention to resign, it must have come as a shot out of the dark. For instance, why would a manager who had overseen a relegation, been accused of lies, fought a libel court case, caused a massive fan protest and drop in season ticket sales, take a home defeat against Middlesbrough as the sign to jump ship? The sucker-punch is that the club were definitely not expecting Kean’s decision and so had no plan in place, as usually happens when a manager leaves (for example, when Ince was sacked it was only a matter of days before Allardyce was brought in – it was nowhere near 30 days).

Secondly, look at the signings Kean brought in the summer, a wave of Portuguese players, many of them under 25 who probably don’t speak English – not a problem when Kean was at the helm, he had lived half his life out there and was a fluent speaker. I very much doubt that Eric Black can speak the lingo or Singh for that matter – which creates a language barrier which the players will likely have to solve themselves. Possibly the biggest impact of this will be seen through Fabio Nunes who has looked very good since his arrival, but rumour has it can’t speak English, meaning his impact and contribution to the team may be lost or misdirected some what.

Kean has now left Blackburn Rovers and the club and fans feel vindicated in their protests and actions, but given the situation the club is currently in, Kean may definitely be having the last laugh.

 

Time to Burnley away = 42 days = not very long!

 

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