29 September 2012

How to undermine your manager

Steve Kean has effectively been sacked by Blackburn Rovers.

Steve Kean has been forced out of the manager's job at Blackburn Rovers. It says a lot about how the situation at Blackburn has developed that, 12 months ago, his axing would not have been described as harsh.

Technically, Kean has not been sacked, although he said that he had been "forced to resign". That's another way of saying that he jumped because he knew that the owners were going to push him off.

To say that Kean's two years in charge at Ewood Park were not exactly successful would be putting it a little lightly. When Sam Allardyce was sacked in December 2010 and replaced by the Scotsman, co-owner Anuradha Desai declared that she wanted to see Blackburn in the "top four or five places" of the Premier League. Appointing someone with next to no managerial experience to the top job was never going to be a wise move.

The Venky's company that bought Rovers dreamed of seeing David Beckham and Ronaldinho pull on the blue and white shirts that adorned the 1995 Premier League champions. Instead, they got David Goodwillie and Simon Vukcevic. Messrs Ferguson, Wenger and Mancini must have been quaking in their boots.

Inevitably, the mess that Venky's got Blackburn into culminated in relegation to the Championship. It would have been understandable if they sacked Kean there and then. He had failed to save a team that looked perfectly capable of staying up, and at Ewood Park, he was about as popular as Colonel Gaddafi in Scotland.

But they kept him on... and now, at the back end of September, even though the anger of Blackburn fans towards him has not died, the team is currently 3rd in the Championship with just one defeat to their name. That solitary loss came against Middlesbrough only eight days ago.

Venky's were looking for another excuse to sack him. But Blackburn fans, and football fans in general, can see right through them. It has been proven that the Indian owners' knowledge of English football is limited, and the way that they have treated Kean in recent months is, in the most lenient terms, not very nice.

During the summer, they appointed former Malaysia international Shebby Singh as their new director of football. He immediately endeared himself to two key figures at the club by saying Kean would be sacked if Rovers lost three games in a row early in the season, and referred to Norwegian midfielder Morten Gamst Pedersen as a "pensioner". If I were Desai or Venkatesh Rao, I would have sacked Singh on the spot.

Singh stayed on, and earlier this week, he said that the situation with Kean "gets worse by the day". When he said those words, the 44-year-old knew that his game was up.

I'm sure that Steve Kean woke up today a relieved man. Relieved that he doesn't have to suffer abuse from the dwindling crowds at Ewood Park. Relieved that he doesn't have to read stories about him in the papers every day. Relieved that he doesn't have to fly to India every couple of weeks to speak to the owners when he could easily be taking his team through training drills.

I hope he realises now that he is not cut out for football management. He is certainly a capable coach, and would fare quite well as an assistant manager, but he does not have the skills required to be a number 1.

As for Blackburn Rovers, the club's financial situation is worsening as sponsors join supporters in staying away from the club. They aren't in debt yet - after all, they paid £8million for Jordan Rhodes last month - but they only have to look at Portsmouth to see just how bad things can get for an ambitious club with completely the wrong owners.

Most of the Blackburn faithful want the chicken farmers to cluck off very soon.

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