Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Ridsdale wastes no time in swinging the axe

Preston chairman has wasted no time in stamping his authority in club, sacking the club’s manager Phil Brown barely a week in the job.

Brown took over the Lancashire club last January and was immediately plunged into a relegation battle.

Those who bet on the Championship certainly fancied Brown’s men to lose their fight against the drop, which they duly did, given the desperate nature of the situation it did not reflect poorly on Brown.

However, what was expected was a sustained assault on the League One title or at the very least a crack at the play-offs.

However, the season has not panned out as expected, with a mid-season run of 10 games without a win plunging them down to 10th – though they are still just five points off the play-off positions.

A statement released by Ridsdale pointed to a poor run of football scores  as the key reason to letting Brown leave, though given Ridsdale has only been in the job eight days I suspect a clean slate was always on his mind.

It will do little to ease tensions among the Preston support, both about their league position and the arrival of Ridsdale. The spectre of Leeds United’s implosion still follows him round, seemingly becoming stronger with each rebuttal of responsibility that comes from his lips.

His repeated declaration that United’s troubles only occurred after he had left, following years of relative success under his watch, was scoffed at and mocked in equal measure, given their years of ‘living the dream’ was largely due to the irresponsible and unsustainable lending by Ridsdale and his fellow directors, and the troubles after – for which they are still paying the price – were similarly linked to his rash spending.

Is time at similarly cash-strapped clubs Barnsley, Cardiff and Plymouth has done little to repair his reputation – rightly or wrongly – and his first act at Preston has only deepened the sense of foreboding as to the club’s imminent future.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Dalglish uses DVD to point out ref failings

Manager’s moaning about referee’s is nothing new, it has always gone and probably will always go on. But Kenny Dalglish took things to another level by playing a DVD during his weekly press conference to point out examples of where his club were hard done by against Fulham last Monday.

The game, which the Red eventually lost 1-0, also landed Liverpool in trouble with the FA after Luis Suarez was charge after giving the Fulham fans the finger, while the club was charged for failing to control their players after they surrounded referee Kevin Friend following Jay Spearing’s dismissal.

Dalglish though was not going to take any punishment lying down, and could not help but let his frustration at the FA pour out in front of the media. The Scot was angered further from he sees as double standards following the FA’s successful appeal to downgrade Wyane Rooney’s England suspension from three games to two, meaning he can play in England’s final group game at Euro 2012.

"If anyone wants to see the truth it's on the screen," Dalglish said.

"If we have infringed rules we will have to accept it and take the punishment, but I'm not certain what the rules are when it comes to disputing a decision," he added. “What I do know is that referees are inconsistent with their interpretations. The only intent in Jay's mind was to get the ball, and normally our discipline is good, as our film clip can prove.

We just want to be dealt with fairly," Dalglish said. "We want the same rules to apply to us as to everyone else. At Fulham I think we got the short end of a lot of 50-50 decisions that on another night might have gone our way. Anyone watching the clips can see that for themselves."

What Dalglish fails to recognise is that he isn’t the only manager who feels hard done by referees. In live football games across the country it is an almost weekly occurrence, and often managers do have video evidence to make their case.

Earlier in the season Dalglish was the beneficiary of a generous sending off by Martin Atkinson of Everton’s Jack Rodwell for a challenge that was barely even a foul. Dalglish, however, said he ‘didn’t see’ the incident.

To be honest I think Dalglish knows decisions swing this way and that, he surely has so too much experience to really think Liverpool – not too long ago one of the ‘big four’ – are picked up by referee’s.

Instead I think he is merely playing the game, trying to influence referee’s by manipulating the press – something Sir Alex Ferguson has mastered over the years.

Will it work and turn the football scores in his favour? Well, he has a task if he is to rescue Luis Suarez’s reputation, mud thrown in the direction of ‘divers’ tends to stick in the English game, rightly or wrongly.

But apart from that I would not be surprised if a ‘favourable’ decision goes the way of the Reds in the near future.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Bruce goes, Kean surely next?

So Steve Kean at least avoided the ignominy of becoming the Premier League’s first coach to be sacked thi season. Poor old Steve Bruce has taken that title for him.

But with Rovers propping up the rest of the division and slung out of the Carling Cup by Cardiff in midweek, most managers in Kean’s position would be nervously awaiting a phone call from the chairman.

But in the bizarre world of Blackburn Rovers such performance earns you a pay-rise. Venkys’ loyalty to Kean is admirable and they do have a point when they say that stability is crucial to success. But that is only if you have the right man in charge.

Kean, with no managerial experience, was seemingly plucked from nowhere to replace Sam Allardyce (though the coincidence that he has the same agent as the company who brokered the Venkys deal raises suspicions).

His run of just six wins in 33 games is well and truly relegation form and his post-match interviews and denials of his teams’ failings are increasingly baffling.

If Ellis Short, Sunderland chairman, pointed to a furious supporter reaction towards Bruce as a key reason to sack his manager then Kean should have gone long ago.

A section of supporters – growing in number despite what Kean says – are demanding his resignation and have held several supporters protests before during and after games, even going as far as hiring a plane to fly a 'Kean out' banner over Ewood Park.

The football betting has Kean favourite to be the next manager sacked, but it seems Venkys are determined to keep their man, with a new contract on improved terms so appallingly timed that it merely acted as a slap in the face for the supporters who had forced the owners to leave a game at Wigan at half time such was the level of abuse aimed in their direction.

Games against Sunderland and Swansea set Rovers up for the bust festive period, with the fear of being bottom on Christmas day looming (only one team in the Premier League era has been bottom on December 25 and stayed up – WBA in 2005). If the club fail to get wins in either of those two games then Venkys would surely be forced to act, if not I would bet on the Championship welcoming Rovers next August.

 But such is the rapid deterioration of the club since they took charge a little over 12 months ago, the question would be – who on earth would want to replace him?