Saturday, September 29, 2012

The cowboy has gone, now let's chase the Indians out of town

I don't feel like celebrating Steve Kean's resignation from Blackburn Rovers. And I genuinely fear what the next act will be in this hideous circus.

Don't get me wrong, I had no regard for Kean as a manager or in the way he conducted himself. I was suspicious of Kean's comments recently that Shebby Singh had bought certain players and he hadn't seen them. His self pitying reaction to Singh's comments at an open evening also smacked of a man looking for excuses. It all rather exposed the sham of his "man of quiet dignity" persona he has cultivated.

It cannot be healthy for someone to be so hated and so blamed. In fact it is wrong the way he has been singled out by the fans, and even more shameful that the owners allowed him to be the lightning rod for such discontent.

Clearly now he is holding out for his big pay off for constructive dismissal. He will be assisted by his pals in the managers' club crying crocodile tears for one of their own, knowing full well that if he was sacked for poor performance - as he should have been - and not paid up to the end of his contract, then it would set a precedent. Football management is the one professional job you can be rubbish at, and still be rewarded. They all get massive pay offs. I rather suspect the surprise that Venky's experienced on learning that Sam Allardyce was going to get a cheeky million or two has been looming large in their minds as they wonder what to do about Kean.

If the boycott was the catalyst that pushed Venky's to fire him, then it must continue. They must learn that fans do not support their twisted vision of using a community football club to promote chicken, if that is what it is. I still suspect darker motives.

I've lost track of who's in charge at Rovers. It almost doesn't matter. Derek Shaw doesn't know what is going on. Shebby Singh is a joke appointment, the Mark Lawrenson of Malaysia. It breaks my heart to see what is happening.

So, no, I don't feel like celebrating. This is not a new beginning, but hopefully it is the beginning of the end of Venky's.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dropping a division

Phil Jevons
Phil Jevons, Hyde FC hat trick hero on Saturday

Form is temporary, class is permanent, so the saying goes. One of my earliest memories of following Blackburn Rovers as a kid is the different reactions to older players joining the club on the downslopes of their career. John Radford, ex-Arsenal, used to get dog's abuse for his lack of goals, while the crowd were far more forgiving of Duncan Mackenzie. Some are perceived to be living off past glories and picking up a meal ticket, others bring a new exciting dimension and valuable experience.

What must it be like for a player realising his pace and fitness has dropped, but he still wants to keep on playing. To do so, he drops a division so he can be effective. Sometimes the pressure can be greater than when playing in a higher league. The game is different and so therefore are expectations.

I was thinking of this on Saturday when I went to see Hyde play at home to Hereford. The Tigers have found it tough in the Conference, having won the Conference North last season. To bolster the promoted side they signed Phil Jevons. I saw him play against both Barrow and Southport and felt for him. I also felt for his strike partner Scott Spencer, who banged them in last term, but had an equally barren start to the season. Their runs weren't being picked up - I sensed Jevons had some clever flicks but Spencer wasn't seeing them. Both were getting bullied a bit too.

Well, on Saturday it all came together. Jevons got a hat trick and Spencer scored a wondergoal. The interplay between them was excellent. In fact, once Jevons got his first it looked like he'd score every time he had the ball at his feet. Confidence is everything.

There are lots of examples around the divisions of players who've made the transition, up or down, and we'll certainly be bearing all this in mind as judges of the North West Football Awards this year - it's the mark of a quality player how they respond to change.

Friday, September 07, 2012

A friend in need?

One of the things that strikes me about the people who know each other through work and their businesses in and around Northern cities is they look out for each other. Friendships strike up between the unlikeliest people. As we become absorbed by our families, we may have less time for friends, even less for new ones, but we still meet people we grow enormously fond of.

We sometimes never know what troubles, what demons, can lurk beneath. All I have to say today, is this. If you know who I am, if we have shared time together, then you'll know I care about people. I look out for my friends and love my family. But if you're suffering, if you are agonising, and that you just need someone neutral to talk to, someone uncomplicated by longer attachment to you and whatever it is that's troubling you, and you do know where to find me, then do. I'm the father of five sons, so I worry about this constantly. There's a phrase that chills me: most men lead lives of quiet desperation. While I accept that men aren't very good at all this soft stuff, please, if you need a friend, then call me.