December 21, 2010
On hindsight, it would probably been to Rovers advantage if Saturday's game against the Hammers had have fallen victim to the nuclear Winter we are all experiencing. Apart from surprise, my first reaction when I heard the pitch had been passed fit was that it was an excellent opportunity for the owners to show the football world that their decision to relieve Allardyce from his duties was vindicated. The sole surviving 3PM Premier League fixture would be shown round the globe giving Rovers further publicity (if they needed any).
Instead the two teams provided the hardy souls who attended with as much excitement as eating a cold turkey sandwich on Boxing Day. Indeed, if any of our feathered friends had been put through the torture of watching the first half, they would probably have decided Christmas Lunch was a better option to end the agony! Rovers were very poor. I commend Steve Kean for trying to stamp his authority on the game and being more adventurous but the 90 minutes magnified the problem that we don't have the personnel to be able to play a different brand of football to the one we have been accustomed to.
The irony is that we would have defeated West Ham under Allardyce. It would not have been pretty and there would have been moans and groans from the stands but Rovers would have grinded the Hammers down into submission. The londoners were hesitant at the back and needed the ariel bombardment to break them down. Instead, Rovers were fortunate to escape with a point after a West Ham revivial in the latter stages of the game.
The owners have apparently reiterated that there will only be £5 million to spend in the January window and Steve Kean believes that with an injury free squad and with some new editions, the club can climb to fifth position. Steve Kean bares an uncanny resemblence to Ricky Gervais's bumbling fool of a friend, Karl Pilkington. I am certainly not suggesting that the comparison goes further than a purely physical one but surely the suggestion of a Europa League spot is fanciful without substantial investment.
Club Captain Ryan Nelsen yesterday added to the aire uncertainty when he publicly questioned the intentions of the owners. The Kiwi is a highly respected and intelligent figure and would not make comments without first assessing the impact that his views would have.
Christmas is said to be a time for forgiving and forgetting. I think all Rovers fans need time off for a few days to forget about a week in which the club has gone from being viewed as a pillar of respectability and common sense to that of the back end of pantomine horse.
A merry Christmas to you all.
December 17, 2010
Mother nature might have the final say at the end of a momentus week for all who hold Rovers dear to their hearts. If you believe the forecasters, (which is not always advisable) Rovers much anticipated clash against West Ham may fall victim to the elements. Ewood does have under soil heating but the but travel plans of thousands of fans could be jeopardized signaling an anti-climatic antidote to the circus that is performing around Ewood at present.
December 14, 2010
The past few hours could prove to be a pivotal time in the long history of Blackburn Rovers Football Club. The supporters, shocked by the news of the Manager's departure, are now looking at a far more serious situation with the possible depature of Chairman John Williams.
Williams is highly regarded among the football fraternity and even more so by the Rovers supporters. They recognise that the man was a calming influence and brought stability to a proud old club. On limited resources he balanced the books and never tried to hoodwink or keep the fans in the dark on important issues. He presided over an era of ridiculously cheap season ticket prices and opened the club up to the supporters through the tool of meaningful fans forums which were far more than token gestures.
Show me a club where the supporters chant the name of their Chairman, particularly one who has not been able to provide the resources that some crave. John Williams is an exception to this rule and the fans respect his honesty and integrity. When our new owners aquired the club I said on a previous blog that John Williams was the most important person at our club, someone who would protect the interests of the supporters and guide the Venkys organisation on how the club works and all the traditions that go with it. If the departure of Williams and managing director Tom Finn materialises then the safety of a soft landing will not be there and we may suffer a fatal fall.
The sacking of Allardyce although surprising at this embryonic stage of the new regime was somewhat inevitable. It's beginning to emerge that there was a massive difference of opinion on transfer strategy and that the Kentaro organisation was having too much influence on decision making for Sam's liking. Some media outlets are alluding to the fact that Sam wanted to bring in the likes of Robbie Keane and David Bentley, whereas the advisors to the new owners where intent on bringing in such has-beens and dead-beats as ex-Hull midfielder Giovanni.
I believe that a major reason for the dismissal was the performance at Old Trafford which turned out to be a massive PR disaster for Venkys. With half the sub-continent witnessing the demolition, the owners would have been highly embarrassed and for those who don't know the ins and outs of the Premier League, it would have set the alarm bells ringing. But those same bells will be ringing very loudly in the ears of all Rovers fans this morning.
Let's face it, Allardyce was a figure who polarised opinion of all Rovers fans. There were times when I was highly critical of some tactics employed particularly away from home against the bigger clubs. At times, heavy defeats were self inflicted. It was virtually impossible to expect to hold onto a point for 90 minutes playing as deep as we did with 10 men behind the ball. There was even dissent from certain quarters at Ewood during the Wolves game with us leading 3-0 because we closed out the game during the second half.
But judgement of Sam should be based on the position the club finds itself now compared to where we were 2 years ago. Rovers were heading for oblivion under Paul Ince yet Allardyce grinded out the results to ensure survival in his first season and a top ten finish in his second. He never suffered more than two defeats in succession and he bloodied talented youngsters such as Phil Jones, Martin Olson and Steve N'Zonzi. Basically he squeezed out the best from every player at his disposal and if that meant playing a certain way to ensure results then that would be the consequence.
The Runners and Riders.
The motives of our owners will determined who takes over the hotseat. If they want to dictate transfer policy then the field of contenders will be whittled down. If they want someone who has a proven track record and will take the club forward then Martin Jol will be an obvious choice. I was impressed with the job he did at Spurs and was always affable with the media and supporters. I also remember him being very complementary about Rovers and the history of the club.
If the owners want a big name who is more 'sexy' than Sam than the speculation as it is this morning will become ridiculous. The oragnisation has recently employed International sporting and music stars to promote their buisnesses in India. Already Terry Venebles, Sven (please apologise for leaving us in the lurch in 1997), Shearer (as always) and even Dalglish have been mentioned. Also an ex Argentina International who had an average career has been touted for the job. I think he goes by the name of Madonna or something similar.
Someone who should not be ruled out is Bobby Houghton who had been in charge of the Indian National side for 4 years. In a long career he has been successful on the continent. I remember him being in charge of the Malmo side that was defeated by Forest in the 1979 European Cup Final. His Indian connections may make him attractive to Venkys.
The club has gone through a similar situation before. In 1991 no-one expected Kenny Dalglish to take charge. The difference for the supporters back then was that we trusted Jack Walker with our lives. Can we say the same thing about the new owners? Will we deeply regret the outcome of this week in 12 months time or will we have achieved world wide fame and singing the praises of our owners? Only time will tell.
This is a very fluid news story and in the last couple of minutes I read an interview with Rovers owner Mrs Desai who intimated that they wanted to see good football at Ewood and make Blackburn a top 4 or 5 side. She also alluded to the fact that the next manager was most likely to be British and it could take a couple of months for this to happen. Coach Steve Keane will take temporary charge.
Mrs Desai finished by saying "The fans should trust us because this in the best interests of the club"
December 13, 2010
Rovers boss Sam Allardyce and assistant Neil McDonald have left the club this evening with immediate effect. First team coach Steve Kean will take on first team duties for the time being.
Owners Venky's said,"We have taken this decision as part of our wider plans and ambitions for the club."
Speculation is already mounting that Martin Jol will be a front runner for the post.
While my initial reaction is one of surprise, I am sure that Sam would not have tolerated any inteference in the football decision making process.
More comment and reaction will follow shortly.
December 7, 2010
A nine hour round trip from the frozen wastelands of the South East to the relatively balmy Ewood Park was worth the journey on Saturday. Although the scoreline flattered Rovers, they did deserve to take all three points against a Wolves side who look destined to return to the 2nd tier unless they find form and luck.
After last weeks debacle, nothing other than a convincing win would have satisfied the Ewood faithful and Rovers responded with substance if not style. Brett Emerton scored the pick of the goals and at least one Aussie had a weekend to enjoy!