As Blackburn Rovers search for a new manager, a lifelong Rover looks at the candidates and who is realistic, and who can/should be ruled out
As I sit at my desk at work my personal phone rings, I answer and am greeted by a voice I have never heard before.
“Hello, this is Shebby Singh. We have seen the good work you did with the AC Milan side of the early naughties and the fantastic job you did with Dundee in the late nineties – winning the UEFA cup 4 years on the bounce, along with 3 scudettos and a Copa Italia, is no easy feet; similarly, getting the Dee to the semi-final of the Champions League back in 1999 is an achievement not to be mocked. The way you established a rapor with both the fans and the chairman from day one is a great management tool and one which no doubt laid the foundations for your successes. I’d like to talk to you about the vacant managers role at Ewood Park – your management history has identified you as our prime candidate to take the club back to the glory days”…….
Given my Championship Manager track record, this is I must say, is the way I imagine the phone-call would go should Mr Singh look at my track record – in reality, unfortunately, I don’t think I’d even make the long list (I haven’t even added my real-life credentials as assistance manager to no less than 4 7-a-side league titles). The scary thing about the reality of the situation at Blackburn is that they could appoint anyone to take the reins – it would not surprise me if the owners and their global advisor decided to make ‘their own’ decision when making the appointment – once again neglecting the opinion of the paying fans at the club. Have they not suffered enough? Worryingly, the more time goes on without an appointment, the more I think they may be steering towards offering Eric Black the job.
Don’t get me wrong, he seems to be a very good coach, and those in the business have only good words to say about him – but haven’t we been here before with Steve Kean? Was he not a brilliant coach who the players respected and learnt from on the touchline? Did Black not also take Sunderland under to the Championship, albeit only in a caretaker role, when the captain had already jumped ship?
Looking at the fore runners for the job, I honestly could not pick someone. The exotic names of Schuster, Trappatoni and Eriksson I think can be ruled out as pipe dreams, or nightmares whichever way you look at it. The fans favourites of Sherwood, Shearer, Flitcroft, Tugay and/or Jansen would be well advised to steer away from the disaster zone – they would undoubtedly get the bums back on seats but this could be a major stumbling block on the first steps towards management, not to mention they only have limited experience – on experience, you would have to give the job to Flitcroft and Jansen who have been at Chorley now for a while.
So what of the others: -
· Roy Keane – on paper looks like a good prospect, but look at the bank balance he was responsible for when getting Sunderland promoted, and look at the less than average job he did at Ipswich when given the same goal. On the flip side, he would stand up to the owners and do it his own way.
· Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – has done well in the Norwegian league and turned the chance to join Villa in the summer. You have to wonder: why would he turn down the premiership to then join the Championship? Again, he is a bit of a gamble as he is an unknown quantity on these shores.
· Karl Robinson – was number two to Ince at Ewood and was said to be a favourite with the owners early in the season when Kean’s ultimatum was set. Looking at the way Blackburn sacked Ince, and the good work he has done with MK Dons, would he take the risk of promotion when in reality he may be playing MK Dons next season anyway?
In my eyes I think Mick McCarthy would do a job and get us promoted or at least on the verge of promotion. He is a no nonsense man and will tell the fans how it is – he is definitely not a yes man. However, you could say that these attributes make him boring and that his style of playing is hardly Barcelona – that said, last season he was the only man who could have got Wolves out of trouble. His tactics and play can hardly be as dull and monotonous as Big Sam’s – but still I don’t think the fans would warm to him, and his appointment could, at least in the short term, result in fans staying away.
What I suggest is a compromise. The old with the new. The rough with the smooth. What I would go for is a mixture of Mick McCarthy’s experience with the fresh approach of a fan favourite, such as Sherwood or Shearer. That way the club could get the best of both worlds and in the process start the development of a young talent – a development which, if successful, would be aligned with the rising of Blackburn Rovers from the ashes. The fan favourite would get the fans back in the stands and would also go some way to rebuilding the bond between fans and the club, although maybe not the owners, who are held responsible by many for the downfall of the former Premier League Champions.
Whoever it is they decide to appoint, they need to do it with relative swiftness. Since Kean left we have achieved only 2 points from a possible 9 which has seen the club plummet to 9th in the league. It could be said that by resigning unexpectedly, Kean is having the last laugh as his ‘successful’ Championship team falls from grace, making the push for promotion an uphill task.