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Where did it all go wrong for Rovers?
4:17pm Wednesday 9th May 2012 in Blackburn Rovers Relegation
TELEGRAPH’S Rovers reporter ANDY CRYER has seen all the drama unfold at Ewood Park since Venky’s took control, culminating in Monday’s defeat to Wigan that sent Blackburn to the Championship.
Here, Andy dissects a controversial last 12 months and more at Rovers and analyses the key reasons why the club have ended their 11-year Premier League stay...
WHEN analysing where Venky’s have gone wrong in their first foray into football ownership the biggest question is where on earth do you start? They haven’t done anything right.
From day one, the Asian poultry giants have demonstrated how they should have stuck to what they knew – and that clearly wasn’t football – after making bad decision after bad decision to dismantle a once proud club.
Paul Hunt’s explosive letter out-lining what Venky’s needed to do to sort the mess out back in December was spot on. Sadly no one listened to the deputy chief executive.
The way they have the shed the club of years of footballing experience at the very top has been alarming and, while they have brought others in, they don’t seem prepared to listen to anyone.
Venky’s were the masters of their own downfall from day one. When they started proclaiming their bold ambitions of ‘spending more money than ever before’ and ‘returning to Europe’, they were asking for trouble.
These initial ambitions raised expectations and have left everyone even further to fall when the quick realisation came that they had no chance of doing what they said they were going to do.
You can’t help but feel Venky’s didn’t have a clue what they were getting themseives into when they were sold ‘the dream’ by their advisers. It is a dream that has become a nightmare.
While you could excuse their unreal-istic goals as just getting carried away with their acquisition, their next move simply has no excuse.
Sacking Sam Allardyce, a proven Premier League manager, was bad enough but to replace him with a man who had never managed and was just a first team coach was utterly baffling. There was no logic, sense or reason behind the decision.
Appointing Steve Kean as their manager has to rank as one of the worst decisions they have made at the football club. He may be a nice guy but there was no sign he was a football manager.
Since then, club matriarch Madame Desai (pictured) has listened to few but him. Kean is one of the few to have had instant access to India.
What on earth has he been telling them?
Their catalogue of errors does not end there. By allowing former chairman John Williams to be marginalised, and ultimately quitting, they lost a great man and a great professional. Williams, Tom Finn, Martin Goodman and Andrew Pincher would not have put up with what has gone on anyway.
It can’t all be laid at the door of the loss of experienced staff though.
Had Venky’s properly invested into the football club, maybe their way would have worked.
While it has to be pointed out they have handed Kean £20million to waste over the past 18 months, they also brought a lot more into the club through the sale of key players.
They also allowed experienced players to leave the club for nothing in their bid to drive down the wage bill. The moment they started making cuts, relegation was inevitable.
Before Venky’s made their bold promises, no-one expected them to turn Rovers from a struggling side into Champions League contenders.
All anyone wanted was the club to continue on a stable footing, with a few more million put into the club to help it to compete.
You can’t run a Premier League club on the cheap. They will soon realise you can’t run a Cham-pionship on the cheap either.
The biggest problem is no-one knows the big plan that Venky’s have, and that is including fellow board members. Their silence is deafening and frankly frightening for the future of the club.
On the bright side, the club aren’t loaded with debts compared to some.
The ideal scenario would be for Venky’s to get their house in order.
They haven’t yet though and you see no reason why they will now.
That leaves only one other alternative and that is to sell the football club to someone who cares. It is difficult to see any other option.
WHEN Steve Kean was appointed as Blackburn Rovers’ caretaker manager the initial reaction was who?
Even though he had been first team coach at Ewood Park for a while, he was very much off the radar for most supporters.
Seeing Kean handed the reins temporarily when Sam Allardyce was sacked wasn’t that alarming at the time. It was natural Allardyce’s number two Neil McDonald would leave as well, leaving Kean as the next man in line.
No-one could have predicted what was to follow as suddenly Kean was being hailed by Venky’s as the man to take the club forward – despite having absolutely no background or pedigree to suggest as much.
Their continual insistence that ‘he is a positive thinker’ simply doesn’t cut it. The facts are they took shocking advice and have been paying for it ever since.
There is the argument from those away from Blackburn Rovers that Kean has been handed an impossible situation, by owners who have left him out to dry with no investment and no support.
I’m not having that. After all, Steve was the one who agreed to work this way. He contributed to leaving John Williams feeling marginalised at the start and has said a number of times how happy he is with the working arrangement.
Kean is actually one of the few who have a direct line to Anuradha Desai. No-one can blame him for taking the job but he has to take a share of the blame too.
It is also important to point out that Kean has been given money. Okay, it hasn’t been a lot and he has lost a load of experienced players, but £20million is nothing to be sneezed at.
Kean could have bought some decent players for the money he has spent. Instead, just a look at Monday’s squad shows how much of it has been wasted.
Five of his signings were among the substitutes, with four more not even making the bench. Out of the 13 of his signings at the club, that is not a good success rate.
That is why him talking about the young side he has had to develop grates. The reason he has had to play so many kids is because he doesn’t trust the players he has signed.
The loss of experience also has be partially put at his door. He couldn’t have done anything to keep Chris Samba or Jason Roberts. But surely something could have been done to retain Ryan Nelsen, Keith Andrews and Brett Emerton.
Perhaps an even bigger downfall of his though is the way he has communicated with the fans. All Rovers supporters want is honesty, not continual positivity that is clearly way over the top.
To say there was ‘absolutely no chance” Rovers would be relegated back in November was ridiculous, as was his claim on Monday that Rovers were excellent.
Too many times Rovers have been defended by their boss for toothless displays on the field. An arm around the shoulder is okay now and again. But not all the time.
In recent weeks we have the likes of Gael Givet and Steven Nzonzi growing incr-easingly disillusioned with life under Kean, although, it has to be said, some players still retain support for him.
Kean will never win the fans around. Too much has been said and done to ever get the Ewood faithful back in his favour.
At the start, it was just a case of a manager way out of his depth. Now, no-one can deny, he has contributed to his own downfall.
There is only one direction left for him to head and that is out.
Rovers’ players have to accept a share of the blame for the club’s relegation for their performances on the field.
A look at the players in Kean’s squad, the likes of Junior Hoilett, Steven Nzonzi (pictured), Gael Givet, Paul Robinson and Yakubu, suggests they should have had enough to retain their top flight status.
Too many players under performed too many times and the final result was relegation.
Had the players been better the club would have survived no matter who the manager and the owners were.
Having said that, it must have been a pretty demoralising place to have been around. To see so many experienced players leave and replaced by less talented players would have been hard to take.
It obviously got to a lot of players. Look at what has happened to Givet and Nzonzi in recent weeks. Good players, but disillusioned by life at Ewood.
A lot of the players brought to the club under the Venky’s regime have just not been good enough for the Premier League.
They have tried their best but their best was not good enough.
Rovers players have been left as nonplussed as everyone else by the goings on at the club.
They have seen respected professionals and team-mates shipped out and replaced by inexperience.
In all honesty it is a miracle the players even made a fight of staying up. The farce behind the scenes was always going to be too much to cope with.
advisers and walker trust
THE Walker Trust’s silence has been deafening over the past 18 months as they have sat and watched a once proud club dismantled before their eyes.
The truth is they wanted rid of the football club.
After the death of Jack Walker (pictured), it became a a millstone around their neck, and were delighted to have found buyers in Venky’s.
In hindsight, you would have to say they were the wrong buyers but how were the Walker Trust supposed to know that?
Due diligence was done into Venky’s background and finances, and it all came up smelling of roses.
They couldn’t read their minds.
Maybe more could have been done to look into exactly what Venky’s had planned for the football club and maybe their eagerness to sell overtook everything else.
I still think it would be tough to heap too much of the blame at their door.
They should be speaking out now but they had no reason to believe the club would go the way it has.
The people who have advised Venky’s also deserve criticism.
There is no way Venky’s came up with the idea themselves of appointing Steve Kean as manager and someone sold them a very unrealistic dream.
Venky’s didn’t have to listen though and the fact they did makes them again responsible for what has followed.
The Walker Trust should now be trying to protect Jack’s legacy though. He didn’t do everything he did at the football club for it to fall by the wayside.
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