Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The sacking of Sam Allardyce: a clear injustice...

Hot (or as hot as it comes these days at the Throne) on the heels of my previous post about the replacement of Chris Hughton as manager of Newcastle United with the managerial luminary who is Alan Pardew, comes the dismissal of Sam Allardyce as manager of Blackburn Rovers.

Geographically speaking, the Rovers are my nearest Premier League football club and I know a great many people who support the club and who have done so since before Uncle Jack Walker rescued them from lower-league oblivion and turned them into the Champions of England.

Similarly, I often read the Lancashire Telegraph, the local newspaper, which reports extensively about the club.

Having done so, I have to say that Sam's sacking has gone down with the vast majority of Rovers fans like a pork pie would at a bar mitzvah, not just because they thought it was unjust (which it most certainly was, of which, more in due course), but because of the timing.

We are now just three weeks away from the opening of the transfer window on 1st January and the club's new owners, Indian millionaires Venky's, who have said they will spend up to£5m during that four week period, have appointed the club's number three coach - who most fans have never heard of - as caretaker manager. Who is he going to attract to the club?

They are in grave danger of turning the club - for which they paid out £42 million - into a national laughing stock before they've owned it for a month.

Anyway, in attempting to justify their sacking, Venky's have suggested that they wanted "a younger and more energetic appointment" to take the club forward.

Right, let's have a look at that, shall we.

Sam Allardyce is currently fifty-six years of age. Sir Alex Ferguson, unarguably the most successful manager of recent times, will be sixty-nine on New Year's Eve, Arsene Wenger, no stranger to success, is sixty-one and both Harry Redknapp, who is being spoken of as the next England manager, and Roy Hodgson are sixty-three; Sam is a relative strippling by comparison with them all. And let's remember, it was only a couple of days before his dismissal that Fabio Capello - who is of pensionable age - suggested Allardyce (or Redknapp) as the next England manager!

Frankly, that claim is rubbish and I think Venky's know it; they were just clutching at any straw they could to justify their unjustifiable sacking of a man they clearly intended to dismiss at their earliest opportunity, despite having promised to give him the time he needed to prove himself. in the end, they gave him about three weeks and four games, two of which were won and two, including the derby at Bolton last Sunday, were lost.

All of which brings me me back to my assertion that the sacking was unfair.

Blackburn Rovers currently stand 13th in the Premier League, five points clear of the relegation zone and just five points behind the Europa Cup placings. Had they beaten Bolton on Sunday, they would have been in seventh place; but that matters not a jot, for the owners had clearly decided Sam would have to go well before the final whistle went at the Reebok.

But that is only half the story. When Allardyce arrived at Ewood Park following the disastrous reign of Paul Ince, the Rovers were in the relegation zone, five points adrift from the pack and staring a return to the Chumpionship squarely in the face.

Allardyce turned that situation round and had the club safe from the drop with two games to spare.

Last season, his first and now only full one in charge at the club, he guided them to a tenth place finish - at least two places higher than he had been tasked by the board to achieve - and he achieved it on a shoestring.

Where's the justice in sacking a man with that record?

All that said, I know that the new owners can do with the club what they will; after all it is theirs, they own it lock, stock and barrel and they are free to sack whoever they want in an effort to take the club forward as they see fit.

But they would be well advised to be cautious, because they could easily antagonise and alienate their core support in England - the ones who actually pay to attend matches - and that will make their efforts much, much harder and could even see the entire enterprise crash and burn, and with it forty odd million pounds of Venky's cash.

It is a less than auspicious start and if the team doesn't win against West Ham United on Saturday afternoon, it will get much worse very soon.

A situation to keep my eye on, I suspect...

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