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Venky’s drop another Turkey
Latest casualty - Appleton
This is a quite staggering state of affairs when you consider that before Berg, their previous boss, Steve Kean, had held his post since December 2010, despite leading the club to relegation from the top flight and never really being in favour with the Blackburn fans. Kean felt he was forced to resign on 29th September last year, saying his position had become untenable. But throughout his one year and nine month spell in charge, Venky’s ignored a tirade of abuse from the Blackburn fans, with consistent protests before and after home games and “Kean out” banners being frequently held aloft by the Ewood faithful.
Perhaps the lack of success and reward for sticking with Kean for such a long time is what has brought about this change in attitude from the Indian owners. They now seem ready and willing the pull the trigger at the first sign of things not going right. But which is the correct way to run a football club? The answer, to be quite frank, is probably neither.
It’s become fairly apparent from their time at running Blackburn Rovers so far that Venky’s are not the most adept of owners when it comes to football matters and decision making. They have of course, no history of involvement with the game and a lack of knowledge when it comes to building a successful club with a solid foundation. This is where you need to draw on the experience of others who have been in the game a while and can help guide you in the right direction.
At the time, exhibits A and B of this would have been executive chairman John Williams and managing director Tom Finn. Under them, Blackburn had been one of the best run clubs in the country. But Venky’s had other ideas and promptly sacked both Williams and Finn shortly after they arrived at the club back in November 2010.
This was possibly the first of a catalogue of monumental errors on the part of Venky’s. Their next mistake was when, out of the blue, they decided to axe manager Sam Allardyce, although the club were sitting comfortably in a mid-table position in the Premier League. And oh how the Rovers fans would love to be back there now. Unfortunately though, a rather catastrophic demise has ensued since then.
The middle reaches of the top flight now seems a distant paradise for Blackburn, who are now languishing just four points above the drop-zone in the Championship. To contemplate dropping another division would be just too much for the Rovers fans to take. They now look to caretaker manager Gary Bowyer to steady the ship for the remainder of the season, which may not be a bad option considering they won three and drew one of the previous matches when Bowyer was in temporary charge before Appleton took over.
The questions that really need to be levelled at the Blackburn owners though are not about why they fired Berg and Appleton so quickly. They are more about why those two appointments were ever actually made in the first place. And as for Kean, that is the biggest mystery of all. When you have an experienced manager like Allardyce in charge with the team doing relatively well and in a fairly comfortable position, is there any real need to push the eject button? Alright, so he isn’t renowned for playing the most attractive style of football but for a club like Blackburn, surely stability has to be considered first and foremost above anything else.
To sack big Sam was one thing, but to do so without having even lined up an adequate replacement was simply a horrendous decision. To end up with effectively a first team coach in Kean, who has no experience of management, instead of a man who had spent eight successful years in charge of Bolton Wanderers seemed preposterous. Allardyce had guided Bolton from the second tier into the top flight and then stabilised the club’s position in the Premier League, even guiding them into the UEFA Cup for the first time in the club’s history. He was a manager with real pedigree.
The fans were not happy with the decision and Venky’s had quickly fallen out of favour with the Ewood faithful. Kean began a turbulent tenure in charge, despite the mass protests and demonstrations that ensued during his time at the helm.
The choice of Berg to be Kean’s successor was another strange one. Although Berg had been at Blackburn for some time as a player, he had been fired from his last managerial role at Norwegian club Lillestrom so would not perhaps have been the first name that sprung to mind as the ideal candidate for most people. But with the whole Kean affair having already painted a negative picture of Venky’s and their unorthodox methods of running the club, some other managers that were in contention for the post decided to distance themselves from it.
After only winning one of his first ten games in charge, it quickly became apparent that perhaps the choice of Berg as the man to lead Blackburn forward was not such a revelation. Venky’s acted quickly and ousted the Norwegian. But it does beg the question, why employ him in the first place?
This is the most crucial part of an owner’s role when they take over a football club. They need to get the right man in charge, who can take the team in the right direction. This is why a lot of thought needs to go into it. It should at least be someone who has shown a lot of promise in their previous positions. Perhaps by selecting Berg, they were hoping to get the fans back onside by choosing someone who was already popular with the supporters from his previous days as a player. But if that was the objective, it was defeated when they fired him 57 days later.
The man who is currently in charge, Bowyer, did actually manage three wins and draw from his previous temporary spell in charge before the next boss, Appleton, was brought in. Perhaps, in hindsight, they should have just left Bowyer in charge.
Appleton quickly won some friends after an incredible FA Cup upset in which Blackburn overcame Arsenal at the Emirates. But that was to be the highlight of his short reign in charge. They failed to win any of their next eight games, exiting the FA Cup at the hands of fellow Championship side Millwall and sliding down the league table significantly. Rovers eventually found themselves in 18th position, 13 points away from the play-off places and only four points above the relegation zone. Not exactly the kind of return they were looking for when appointing their new boss, prompting the owners to pull the plug on Appleton’s 15-game tenure.
Once again, the question of why they appointed Appleton in the first place is the most poignant. He’d only been in charge of his previous club Blackpool for 12 games, in which he’d accrued two wins, eight draws and two losses. These are hardly impressive statistics. His previous club Portsmouth were relegated from the Championship to League One under his stewardship, so it does make you wonder, what gave them the idea that Appleton was the right man for the job? Only Shebby Singh and his Venky’s corporation can answer that question.
Blackburn fans will just have to hope that they’ve learnt from their mistakes and when they make their next appointment, they’ll actually think long and hard about it and choose a manager who has done well in his previous roles and looks like he could really have a positive impact on the club. Or perhaps Bowyer will impress in his interim role until the end of the season and end up getting the job on a permanent basis. But whatever happens, for the sake of all Rovers supporters, please Venky’s, not another turkey!
By richbrawn1 on March 25th, 2013 in Blow the whistle
Venky’s drop another Turkey
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