According to this morning's Daily Mirror, Big Sam has just 2 games to save his Rovers managerial career. A combination of abject performances, negative tactics and frosty relationships developing with some senior players and directors have apparently hastened the chances of an acrimonious divorce.
Ultimately, it will be the fans who will force either a tactical revolution overseen by the present incumbent or demand the ultimate sanction. Even more shocking than the performance on Monday night were the numbers in the Rovers contingent. Some estimates put the figure at 450 for a game which is less than 30 miles down the road. It was below freezing and on TV but I am scraping the bottom of the excuse barrel. Equally, ticket sales for the Villa Semi tomorrow are described as "poor" by some officials at the club. The faithful are clearly not amused. But why do find ourselves in this situation?
It was second time lucky for Allardyce when he rode into Ewood in December last year. Paul Ince's tenure had been embarassing and we were looking down the barrel of the Champiuonship gun. Sam had wanted the job before the appointment of Ince, but largely because of the negative reaction of the fans, the board decided otherwise. There was no such protest as Allardyce kept his promise and the club stayed in the division. It wasn't pretty but it was effective. The board were happy.
This season has been been different. Too often, the team has been defeated without a ball being kicked. Dubious team selections and openly negative formations have created an insipid, uneasy atmosphere in the stands at Ewood and particularly away from home.
Proponents as the Allardyce ideology will argue that away games against the big boys don't matter and that the home games facing the sides around you in the table are the ones which will decide your fate. The tactics will be all about not allowing the opposition time on the ball to play. The opponents of this theory will tell you that every game should be played to the maximum and the ball played on the floor where possible.
We all knew what to expect with Sam and that includes the board. To argue differently is like having 10 pints and being surprised you wake up with a hangover! We knew it would not be pretty but we expected the team to compete more. This has been the most disappointing aspect of the season.There was a time when the big teams feared facing Rovers. Wenger and Benitez cried like small children and we all laughed out loud! Misjudged pundits and commentators still say Allarydyce's teams are hard to brake down. We beg to differ.
In Sam's defence, there is no money in the pot. Unfortunately that was spent on Kalinic which may still turn out to be a shrude investment. If any money can be found, it must be spent on some pace in the team, it is imperative. The fact that there is no money will play hard on the minds of the directors. We are still paying off Ince. Can we afford to do it again?
A faction of the support believe a new philosophy and regime is necessary and if that means relegation and starting again, blooding youngsters as was the case 10 years ago, then so be it.
I feel that all is not lost. The club is 13th in the League, 2 games from a Wembley final and much will learned from these 2 crucial games coming up. The supporters must get behind the team and forget any personal gripes. If Allardyce can guide the club to Wembley, this would galvanise the supporters as was the case under Souness in Cardiff 8 years ago. But Sam has to lose his stubborn side and admit that a certain football ideology sometimes has to take a back seat in favour of a more pragmatic approach. After all, nobody can be an "expert" all the time!