In November 2015 Venky’s, took advice from their ‘Advisor’. Believed to be Gandhi Babu, who has had a watching brief at Ewood Park for several years.
It was becoming apparent to the owners financial advisors that their target of return to the Premiership for 2016 - 17, was not going to be achieved, and had to be realised at all costs.
Manager Gary Bowyer had steadied their sinking ship for over three seasons. And was working with one hand firmly tied behind his back. To compound matters a transfer embargo was in place for the club having fallen foul of FFP. But that embargo was about to be lifted. Due to the excellent work behind the scenes of financial Director Mike Cheston, Chief Executive Derek Shaw and Bowyer himself. The embargo would be lifted in time for the January 2016 transfer window.
On November 7th 2015 Bowyer had only accumulated 3 wins from the Rovers opening 16 games. They were perilously close to the divisions bottom three, lying in 16th position.
Having learned a bitter lesson in foolishly sacking Sam Allardyce, Venky’s were advised to act and change their Manager. The players were good enough, they were told, they just need a more experienced manager to guide them up the table they were told.
Balaji Rao (pic above) was particularly keen on the idea. £105 Million was at stake, for promotion to the Premiership. That is the minimum amount what each club will receive in season 2016 -17 from the new Sky TV deal. Venky’s badly need that money to clear mounting debts of £92 Million and rising.
Football agents hovered like vultures. Trying to push forward claims for their out of work clients. Rovers ‘advisor’ opted for former Aston Villa and Norwich boss Paul Lambert. Having been convinced he was the man to take Rovers back to the “land of milk and honey”.
19 games later, under Lambert, Rovers are no nearer. They lay 16th in the Championship table, the same position Bowyer left them in. Promotion this season is now an impossibility. In fact, at this moment in time, Rovers have a battle on their hands to keep out of the relegation dog fight.
During Lamberts tenure Rovers went 9 league games without a win, their worse run for 5 years, the alarm bells sounded as this is what the owners had not foreseen or hope for.
Lambert is confident however, that Rovers can mount a promotion challenge next season, if he is given the financial backing, and to his credit results and performances of late have been good.
But have the owners got the stomach for it? Are they prepared to spend good money after bad?
Their venture into English football has been a disaster. Thanks mainly to very bad decisions, sacking good men and putting their faith in unscrupulous ones.
A lot of Football clubs are for sale, Aston Villa, Leeds United, Morecombe, Crawley, and Everton, to mention but a few.
Are Blackburn Rovers about to join them ?.
The more you speak to Blackburn Rovers followers, and read their comments on social media sites, the more you ask the question, are they in denial.
With the general euphoria greeting the arrival of new manager Paul Lambert (pic above), it would appear some fans want to rewrite history.
It is as though the previous three years under the management of Gary Bowyer never existed.
Bowyers departure has, by some, been greeted with general approval, whilst others have misgivings. Let us not forget what Bowyer did for Rovers under very difficult circumstances. Well documented on this site and highlighted recently in article “Thank you Gary Bowyer” posted 25th November 2015.
Now all of a sudden, Bowyers hard work and achievements have been brushed aside and forgotten. Rovers fans should never forget how close the club has come to oblivion. And only prevented in doing so by Bowyer and Derek Shaw’s amazing work in cleaning up the mess left by Anderson / Kean. The club are saddled by a £92m debt and rising. Largely accumulated by the negligence of the Anderson / Kean regime.
It is as though Paul Lambert has a magic wand that he will wave and everything will be ok again. Im sorry, it is not that simple. One can understand to a certain degree the fans euphoria.
Rovers have not really had a manager of repute since Allardyce was sacked in 2010.
A succession of inadequate managerial appointments, Kean / Berg / and Appleton left Rovers floundering. Until along came Bowyer, promoted from within the coaching ranks.
Even Allardyce is derided by some, as not being up to the job. Let us remind ourselves of Sam’s two years at Ewood. Appointed in 2008 to succeed Paul Ince. Allardyce arrived after the season was seventeen games old and Rovers in the bottom three, in 19th position with 13 points. He quickly accumulated seven points from 3 games over the Christmas / New year period. Eventually leading Rovers to safety and finishing 15th in the Premiership.
The following season he had Rovers finish in the Premiership’s top ten. And brought players into the club such as Micheal Salgardo from Real Madrid. In November 2010, Venky’s bought the club and sacked Allardyce 4 weeks later on 13th December 2010, with Rovers 11th in the Premiership and 6 points from the top 5.
A decision that has been described by some leading football analyst as the worst ever decision taken by any Premiership club in the leagues 25 years’ existence.
It is quite possible many generations of Rovers followers to come will never ever witness Rovers in such a high position in the football ladder again.
But to listen to some Rovers followers, Sam’s brief tenure was a disaster. WHY ?. The mind boggles. The same is now being said of the Bowyers years. BAFFLING ?.
Rovers supporters should be very careful what they wish for.
Why oh why did we sack Gary Bowyer ? It was a monumental mistake. And I am not saying that in hindsight, I said it the day he was sacked. Before we had any idea who the new manager would be. Bowyer was right for Rovers at this particular moment in time, why could the club not see that. He had led us through 3 years of upheaval , there was light at the end of the tunnel, the transfer embargo was about to end, then the rug was pulled from under him. Brutal. Bowyers 3 seasons league finishes of , 9th, 8th, 7th, under almost impossible circumstances, are beginning to look pretty impressive now. And he would have delivered a top half finish again this season, of that I have no doubt. But that was not good enough for some. Greed took over. The land of milk and honey was on the horizon. Next season a guaranteed £180m for just being in the Premiership. So someone sold Venky;s the dream. Someone told them it could be them. Someone, an unnamed agent, sold them the dream that Paul Lambert was the man to take them to that land of milk and honey. Do they never learn ? Have they not learnt a thing after the disaster of sacking Allardyce in December 2010. Resulting in leaving the land of milk and honey and being plunged into 6 years of hell, and counting. Allardyce had his detractors, but we were 10th in the Premiership, with a pretty good team. So why sack him ? Because we should be in the top 4 and playing in Europe, that is why. And who said so ? An agent said so, Jerome Anderson in fact. So the owners listened and sacked Big Sam. Now the same has happened again, history has repeated itself. Instead this time , instead of heading for the Championship under Kean, we are heading for Division one under Lambert. And the most up setting thing is that some supporters buy into these crazy ideas. Not a word of protest when Sam went, not a word of protest when Bowyer went, not even a word of protest when good men like Williams, Finn and Goodman are cast aside. Greed takes over, we are heading for the land of milk and honey ! Do we never learn.
When you have good men and good managers like Allardyce and Bowyer , you hold onto them, at all cost, or you reap what you sow. You deserve all the pain coming your way. Want to know how a good club should be run ? Look no further than Burnley, hate to say it, but it's a fact. Solid and steady. No panic when things are not going well. Did they sack their manager when relegated from the Prem, last season ? No. Would Rovers have done ? Yes. Run by people who love and care about the club. And the sad thing is, that used to be how Rovers were run, by people who cared. And who did Burnley use as their role model when they re built and re shaped their club ? Blackburn Rovers, that is who.
The saddest thing of all, is that Gary Bowyer, for all his faults , cared and loved Blackburn Rovers. He spent 10 years at Ewood, he was one of us. He was treated badly. Shame on us.
In the summer 2011, Gary Bowyer, then Blackburn Rovers U/21 manager / coach. Recommended to the then Rovers manager Steve Kean, that they sign Jamie Vardy (pic above) from neighbouring Fleetwood Town.
Vardy had arrived at Fleetwood from none league Halifax Town for £15,000 three seasons earlier.
He was scoring for fun in division two as Fleetwood soared up the league table. Fleetwood’s asking price was £800,000. A fortune to Fleetwood and much needed revenue.
Rovers were awash with the Venky’s money at the time. Agent / advisor, Jerome Anderson, was certainly spending it for them. Bowyer saw the potential that was in Vardy and told Kean so.
Swansea, Peterborough and Crewe all made bids for Vardy, but would not meet the asking price. Swansea then did bid £800,000. Kean / Anderson were not interested. But along came Nigel Pearson and Leicester City and snatched Vardy from under Swansea’s nose for £1m.
A punt, as Pearson described it at the time.
Rovers never made a bid. Instead Kean / Anderson paid Newcastle £4m for Leon Best. The more the fee, the higher the players wages, the longer the contract, the more the fee for the agent.
Draw your own conclusions.
Kean, like Pearson also had a £1m punt. For Jordan Slew from Barnsley!
The rest is history, Jamie Vardy is now valued at £40m and rising.
Gary Bowyers advice was dismissed. Although Bowyer did go on to do some pieces of business for his employer. Notably the signing of Rudy Gestede from Cardiff for £300,000. Rovers sold him for £6m. Then sacked Bowyer !
Some people never learn.
Thank you Gary Bowyer for saving Blackburn Rovers Football Club.
For the best part of the last three years Bowyer has been Rovers manager. Following the disastrous reigns of former managers, Kean, Berg, and Appleton. Not to mention the disgraceful stewardship of the club by ‘advisors Jerome Anderson and Shebby Singh’.
Bowyer had a mess to clean up, some would say mission impossible. As Rovers finances spiralled out of control. Excessive transfer fees and lucrative / long player’s contracts, culminating in disastrous relegation from the Premiership in 2012.
Bowyers sacking was unexpected and brutal. Although just three wins from sixteen games this season did for him in the end.
The squad Rovers now have is a massive testament to Bowyer.
Amongst the players Bowyer had to off load – Bradley Orr, Nuno Enrique, Fabio Nunes, Leon Best, Mauro Formice, Morten Pedersen, Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu, Edinho Junior, Nuno Gones, Bruno Ribiero, Diego Rosada, Hugo Fernandez, DJ Campbell, Simon Vukevic. That is fifteen players who were on the books, on big ridiculous money when Bowyer took over. Add to that Paul Robinson and David Dunn. All on big money and long contracts and not wanting to leave. Bowyer, a rookie manager, had all that to sort out.
He brought in Rudy Gestede, Tom Cairney, Craig Conway, Ben Marshal, Shane Duffy, Corry Evans – all very bright young players, all hungry to play for the club and all shrewd investments.
Whether Bowyer was a manager capable of taking us back to the Premiership, we will never know. But in terms of his legacy at the club, how anyone can knock that is way beyond me. The above list is not even accounting for the eight years he spent at the club nurturing top talent like Hanley, Henley, Reya, Olsson x 2, Lowe, Hoillet, Jones and Many more coming through.
Bowyer spent ten years at Ewood Park, and Rovers were lucky to have him. I hope the owners generously treated him well in his Remuneration settlement. A glowing testimonial and thanks from the owners would not have gone amiss.
Good luck Gary and thank you. We will be forever grateful.