October 23, 2014 by bluenosebible
By Nat Peters
Despite Lee Clark going the day before, Tuesday night’s match at Ewood Park had a lot of the hallmarks of many of the defeats he had presided over in recent times. Play well in the first-half and keep it level pegging. Concede a soft as mush goal early on after half-time and a defender acts like a prat and gets himself sent-off. Blackburn pull us from pillar to post but Colin Doyle, awful finishing and sheer dumb luck mean that they don’t kill us off. We then break away and come within a crossbar of nicking a point. Cue post-match comments from the guy in charge about how we were unlucky not to get at least a draw.
In all (and this may come as a surprise to people who have heard me saying otherwise before) I think getting rid of LC may well be the right decision. I listened to his post-match interview with Tom Ross after the Bolton game, and he sounded like a broken man and a man who didn’t really have a clue what he was going to do next. We need someone with clear thinking who has fresh ideas and a plan of how to give us a chance of staying up.
I said a few weeks ago that I thought we should only bring in a manager if it was likely that the incumbent could do better with this squad than LC could. I was wrong. Whilst I am still unsure that it will get much better under a new manager (my gut feeling is that a lot of our players simply aren’t good enough for the level we are trying to compete at, but I hope that I am wrong) I am now sure it wouldn’t have got any better under Clark, and that is why a change was necessary.
He did have his hands tied at Blues, but he didn’t help himself either. Decisions like those baffling second-half substitutions that cost us two points at ten man Brentford, constantly changing the team even when we got decent results (I mean as just one very recent example dropping Callum Reilly for the Bolton game after he’d done well two weeks previously at Charlton, what was that all about?) and seeing us constantly concede awful goals when we have an ageing left-back at centre-half whilst a centre-back whose looked good since his arrival in the summer perpetually sits on the bench; just three examples of the sorts of decisions that were becoming indefensible. The fact that a decent five points on the road at Norwich, Millwall and Charlton were punctuated by defeats at home to two of the very few teams who sit below us in the league. It was the arse end of last season all over again, and if that is repeated then we WILL go down.
But I would like to place on record, here and now, my thanks for the job he has done and to wish him all the luck I can in the future. Unlike numerous people who think he is a total basket case, I think he will get another management/coaching job in football and when he does I hope it’s at a club that isn’t run in the ridiculous manner ours has been from on high ever since he arrived in 2012. I wonder what he would have been like here if we had been a club that had afforded him even a modicum of stability, but that’s by the by now.
Moving on, I was hoping we could maybe have had something tied up by this Saturday with regards to a new manager but that seems very unlikely. It could be argued that with Bournemouth, Wolves and Watford being our next three opponents then the need for a new manager isn’t totally imminent, because let’s face it no-one can really be expecting too many points out of this trio of games whoever is in charge. I would argue though that any new manager would have no real pressure attached to these games, so he could try different things and if they came off and we got a result or two it would be a bonus and would give the place a massive boost. If we lose those games, they can pretty much be written off because they aren’t the sort of teams we need to be taking points off.
Who should be the new manager though? Malcolm Crosby has said he wants the job, but to be honest I don’t see that one working out; he’s far too ingrained with Clark and he hasn’t been a proper manager in his own right for over two decades. Trevor Francis has been fleetingly mentioned, but as romantic as that would be he isn’t what we need (and I doubt he’d want to do the job again to be honest). Of the three main contenders being reported, I am no fan of Owen Coyle; he just doesn’t seem that inspirational, and Bolton and Wigan fans complained of a mundane and aimless football and questionable tactics. Mike Phelan is a very experienced coach and has coached some of the very best players in the world over a long period of time, as well as assisting (and maybe learning off) the best manager of his generation. Whether he can make the step up to being a number one in his own right (with the exception of Steve McClaren, previous assistants to Ferguson who made the step up to the hot seat away from United tended not to fare too well). It may be a big risk to give a guy who’s never been a manager in his own right a job like this to start him off with.
So then there is Gary Rowett; for me the clearly outstanding candidate. Has gained experience at Burton and has done well there. But there are two particular facets of the job he has done there which may make him suitable for the job he would face here. First off when he took the Burton job in early 2012 the side were shipping goals and staring down the barrel of relegation back into the Conference, but he managed to keep them up. Secondly, in time he has made Burton very hard to beat on what is (from what I understand) a fairly sparse playing budget, and has dragged them right up the table for what is the third season running. To be honest, the ability to do both of those things here (if he can make the step up) could be absolutely priceless. On top of that, his abilities as a player at Stan’s means he is still fondly remembered by the fans, and that would give the place a bit of a boost an ‘outsider’ wouldn’t provide.
But whoever gets the gig, I think they are in for one tough job. Ideally a new manager gets a close season to assess the squad and a pre-season to prepare a side, but the new manager won’t have the luxury of that so we need to get him in as soon as possible. As I said, these next few games against tough opposition could be a bit of a blessing because they can almost be treated as testing ground for anything the new manager wants to try before we play the likes of Rotherham, Blackpool, Reading and Huddersfield in late November and December. The only goal for this season (if it wasn’t already) is surviving relegation.
You can read more of Nat’s thoughts on his blog: http://nattubes.wordpress.com/