Mistreated Bowyer didn’t create mess
WHEN Volkswagen were rumbled for cheating emissions tests, chief executive Martin Winterkorn fell on his sword.
When Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovered Republican wire taps, president Richard Nixon quit in the face of certain impeachment.
When the body fails, the head is severed. In business, politics and almost every walk of life, the buck stops at the top. But not, it seems, in football.
Take the scandalous sacking of Blackburn boss Gary Bowyer. It wasn’t Bowyer who oversaw relegation from the Premier League.
It wasn’t Bowyer who hired and fired a succession of managers, creating rank instability and player turnover that would have dizzied a Sunday side.
It wasn’t Bowyer who gambled so much on an instant return to the top flight that the club was saddled with a transfer embargo and forced to sell their best players to try to combat losses north of £40m.
No, the sorry mess that Blackburn have become was all the responsibility of Venky’s, the club’s blundering owners.
Poor Bowyer was just the man they hired to clean it up. He did, too.Without his steadying hand, Rovers might well be a League One side today.
Now, thanks to a few bad results, Bowyer is gone.Which begs the question: what more was he expected to achieve?
Thanks to Venky’s, Bowyer hasn’t been able to sign a player since December 2014. Playmaker Tom Cairney was sold to Fulham.Top scorer Rudy Gestede left for Villa, winger Josh King for Bournemouth.
That trio yielded more than £10m in transfer fees, but none of it could be used to fund replacements. Is it any wonder results are so poor, the football so bad?
Some argue that Gary Rowett’s achievements at Birmingham prove a cash-strapped club can compete. But, for all his budgetary restraints, Rowett was still able to keep his best players and add to his squad freely this summer. Bowyer was not.
A better comparison would be Dougie Freedman at Forest. Another manager parachuted into a wretched, transfer-embargoed mess, the Scot’s well-organised side have been decimated by injuries to attacking players.
Unable to bolster his ranks, Freedman has struggled for results and his side currently lie 18th on 17 points – exactly the same as Blackburn.The only difference – so far, at least – is that Forest chairman Fawaz Al-Hasawi appears to understand the predicament.
Some disagree. In an article for the BBC, ex-Rover Kevin Gallacher argued that Blackburn had been stifled by Bowyer.“If we can let the attacking players go and express themselves in that final third, I can’t see anyone better than Blackburn,” he said.
Really? With the exception of Jordan Rhodes and £3m-rated winger Ben Marshall, Blackburn’s skeletal, patched-together squad of kids and freebies contains precious little to frighten Championship defenders. But for Rhodes’ eight goals, they would surely be deeper in the mire.
Bowyer has been roughly treated. He didn’t fail. He didn’t even under-perform. He was dealt a terrible hand and played it with dignity. If there was justice it would be Venky’s clearing their desks.