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Berg believes in Blackburn Rovers ambition
ON February 2 1993, Henning Berg made his Blackburn Rovers debut as a substitute in the 2-1 Premier League home defeat to Crystal Palace.
Now, almost 20 years on, the Norwegian will start his Rovers managerial career against the very same opponents – this time at Selhurst Park – as he looks to make his mark on the club after nearly a decade away from Ewood Park.
Having won the Premier League in his first spell as a player in East Lancashire and then helped the club back to the top flight and on to Worthington Cup success in 2002 during his second spell, Berg’s Rovers’ impact has already been significant.
He is guaranteed ‘legend’ status at the club but is under no illusions about the size of the task that now awaits him.
The club Berg left in 2003 is a very different one to what he arrives at now. Rovers have been a crisis club for almost two years, with owners Venky’s lurching from one bad decision to another.
Berg himself slated the running of the club just a few months ago – claiming things had to change for any credible manager to take the job – but he insists he has now seen signs of improvement.
He said: “Looking at it from the outside, it’s been a difficult time. But now I think the owners are making big decisions. They are putting money in and buying players, like Best, Rhodes, Murphy, Etuhu, Gomes, big players, important players for this team.
“So the owners are showing their intent.
“They have done that by changing the management as well.
“They are taking the club in the right direction, looking to make sure this club gets back into the Premier League.
“The comments were made by me looking in from the outside. But I know what they have done in the summer, I know what they think. I know what they want for the fans and for the club.
“I had long talks with Shebby Singh, Paul Agnew and Derek Shaw and I spoke to the owners as well after that.
“They are committed and they want to get this club back into the Premier League.
“They are involved in the club, there’s no doubt about that.
“I think with the steps they have taken in the summer and now, they have shown to everyone what their ambitions are. On the pitch there has been an improvement in the last few games and I think we want to continue that.”
Berg will travel to Crystal Palace tomorrow knowing an instant Premier League return is his target.
If you listen to global advisor Shebby Singh, that is the minimum the club expect of him.
The 43-year-old appears to be taking the pressure in his stride though but, after rumours of external influences on former boss Steve Kean, he is adamant he will be doing things ‘his way’.
“As a manager you will have to have the final say in most things,” he said.
“But you have to have discussions. I don't think one person should be doing everything on his own.
“When it comes to picking players, when it comes to buying players, the manager’s words have to be important.
“It’s no good bringing in players if the manager doesn’t want to use them – that’s not money well spent.
“I don’t think that will be a problem and I’m sure I have enough character to make sure the football decisions and team decisions I will have the last word.
“When you’re a manager, of course you have the final say on things.
“At the same time there will be staff working, directors, chief executives who are all working in the same direction.
“We’ll all work together, we have to co-operate to be as good as we can be. We have our own rules, our own responsibilities and we’re working towards that.
“I think Shebby has a great relationship and dialogue with the owners so I’m not going to be flying there all the time. I will meet the owners when they come over and we will talk, even if I don’t fly over.”
The future of Kean’s assistant and Rovers’ caretaker boss for the last month, Eric Black, together with the rest of the backroom staff, remains unclear.
Berg though insists he will assess the situation with an open mind.
He said: “I think they have done well as a caretaker. It would be foolish for me to come in and to make a lot of changes before I know everyone personally.
“I will assess and see if we can work together. Hopefully we can. At the moment, I am looking at everything with open eyes.”
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