Mistreated Bowyer didn’t cre­ate mess

The Football League Paper - - CHRIS DUNLAVY -

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.

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