DEREK Fazackerley is concerned that a climate of fear now exists around Ewood Park – and thinks staff will be hoping that global advisor Shebby Singh does not return from India.
Operations director Paul Agnew became the latest person to leave Blackburn Rovers on Friday in a period of huge change since Venky’s bought the club in November 2010.
The owners have presided over the exit of a number of managers, board members and other Ewood staff and Fazackerley – Rovers’ all-time leading appearance maker – thinks it has left everyone at the club fearing they could lose their job at any moment.
Fazackerley, now first-team coach at Birmingham City, is based in Langho and still returns to Ewood for matches whenever possible.
But he thinks too many changes have been made in a short space of time, and feels he is now returning to a building rather than a community.
“The people are not the same,” Fazackerley said.
“Yes it’s the same people on the doors but there’s even a feeling of unease around them because obviously they’re looking over their shoulders thinking, ‘What’s the next decision going to lead to? Is it going to cost me my job?’.
“Sadly they’ve had an awfully big turnover not only in managers but also in administration staff as well.
“That can’t help at all.”
Singh remains in position, having joined the club last summer in the unusual title of global advisor.
But he has now been away from Blackburn for more than two months, spending that time in India either side of a two-week break in his homeland of Malaysia.
There had been indications that he has considered staying away while Derek Shaw remains at the club.
The managing director is due back at Ewood today after returning from the Football League’s AGM in Portugal.
Fazackerley has been puzzled by Singh’s role at the club.
“You tell me another football club that has a global advisor? I can't think of another one,” he said.
“All Derek Shaw and Shebby Singh seem to do is undermine each other and people can see that.
“Shebby Singh has not been heard or seen for a good while. I think people will just think and hope that he won’t come back.
“Go and advise on the globe if that’s what his title is.”
Fazackerley spent 18 years in the Rovers first team and then returned for a spell as a coach in the late 1990s.
He has been left dismayed by events at Ewood in recent times.
“It does upset me,” he said.
“To do what they’ve done over the last 18 months or two years has been nothing sort of shambolic really.
“As an organisation unless they get it right at the top they’re going to find it very difficult to get it right on the pitch.
“You don’t want to be too negative, you don’t want to be disparaging about people but some of the decisions that have been made down there over the last two years since the change of ownership of the club have been beyond belief.
“It’s an absolute crying shame where the club has ended up.
“Even when I was there under the excellent guidance of people like Tom Finn, John Williams, they didn’t get everything right.
“The club got relegated but what they did following relegation was make sure that the next decision was the right decision to get them out of that downward spiral.
“They brought the right people in.”
Fazackerley has been left baffled by the managerial merry-go-round at the club in the last 12 months.
Among those recruited were Henning Berg and Michael Appleton, both experienced managers and considered by many to be surprise appointments.
“To stick with Steve Kean for so long despite some very poor results in the Premier League, which led to relegation, and for him to leave when they were near the top of the league, whatever the circumstances were, was strange,” said the 61-year-old.
“Then there would have been a number of highly qualified people who would have been interested in the job when they appointed Henning.
“I like Henning, he’s an honourable man. When I was at Blackburn as a coach he could have left to go to Manchester United at Christmas and he asked the board if he could leave and they said no.
“Most players, having been refused an opportunity to go to Manchester United, would have spat their dummy out and said, ‘I’m not playing for this club again’.
“But he didn’t, he was our best defender that season so I’ve got a lot of respect for him.
“But to make an appointment like that, with someone who had no experience of management in England.
“Then to go for Mike Appleton who is probably a decent fellow but he didn’t win too many games at Portsmouth and he didn’t win too many games at Blackpool.
“I just find it incredible when there were people about who they probably could have got for the job during the season, people like Ian Holloway and Mick McCarthy.”
Fazackerley now hopes Gary Bowyer can revive Rovers’ fortunes.
“With the parachute payments, clubs coming down from the Premier League have a huge advantage and that’s where Blackburn have probably wasted a year,” he said.
“I’ve always been made more than welcome when I’ve come back to Blackburn and you want to see the club do well, back up on its feet and pressing for a place in the Premier League, although obviously not at my expense at Birmingham!
“That’s what I would want to see as a supporter of the club because the longer you’re out the harder it gets.
“This year was the year to go up because it’s been an ordinary league. Cardiff won the league with less than two points per game and Hull had 79, which is probably one of lower totals of the last few years “You just hope that they’ve made a decision now and they’ve appointed Gary Bowyer and there’s a period of stability. But they’ve got to get it right at the top.
“They’ve alienated I don’t know how many supporters. Over the years through the Premier League and through winning the league they’ve built up a really good solid fanbase and it’s just been cast aside in a matter of months.
“That’s the really sad part of it.”