The Blackburn Saga: Why the Chicken Came Before the Egg
"He phoned me at 3.10 PM today saying 'can I have a cup of tea tonight?' because he was coming to the game. Then he phones me at half past four and says 'I've been sacked'."
There are certain things that just don't go well together—Church and State, Peanut Butter and Jelly (my own pet peeve), Sport and Business. The problem is it always proves impossible to alienate one without affecting the other.
So, while Big Sam may be out of a job leaving Sir Alex (among others) infuriated, the show must go on. It's what we must come to accept—global club football is past those days when it's only one-up on the franchise-model of American sports in its varied ownership structures. We can no longer ridicule a Robert Sarver for cutting costs and trading players simply because he didn't want to pay a luxury tax on every additional dollar for his franchise.
No, we must not.
Because Chelsea was "franchised" out to Abramovich just as Eastlands was to Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Just as the Glazers so shamelessly brought the concept of debt to United, so did Venkateshwara Hatcheries decide they had the vision and ability to transform Blackburn Rovers to a Top Five club in the English Premier League.
As Dileep Premachandran writes, "this is not a labor of love." If Venky's cared about the game, they might have invested in Mahindra United or Indian Football at the grassroots level.
Where will Blackburn Rovers finish?
Fault Mark Cuban all you want, but you can't deny his passion for basketball.
Fault the Sheikh at your own peril, but he's pouring in personal resources by the millions to ensure that his pet project can compete for the title.
Fault Anuradha Desai...
What? Yes. Wait. What?
The Chairperson of the VH Group and the new top dog at Ewood Park who brazenly announced that "she watches cricket, hockey sometimes but never football."
As if that wasn't conclusive enough evidence of ignorance, she went on to assert that "I don't know a thing about football." Now, we know why this Sam "sacker" sacked Sam.
Because it's pretty darn hard to do something like that with the slightest knowledge that:
a) He took charge at Ewood Park with the club in the midst of a six-game losing streak to the end of the season where they went on a nine-match unbeaten run.
b) He then led them the next season to a respectable top-half finish. For the first time in 14 years, this included an undefeated record against the "Big Four" at home.
c) On current form, he had won four and lost three which included tough games against United and Tottenham.
And the players aren't happy either. Captain Ryan Nelsen said he was "devastated" to learn of the decision. As he further elaborated to Sky Sports News, "He (Sam) had an absolutely fantastic relationship with all of the players. Everyone respected him. He took the club out of the doldrums really. We were in massive trouble with no money. He solidified us and put us into a top-ten position, and again he did it on a shoe-string."
Blackburn now sits just a point behind Liverpool and three above Everton, not a bad position for Big Sam. Though in retrospect, we now know that he was nothing more than a walking duck (or chicken if you please) set up for a fall.
Five million pounds will not lure Diego Forlan or any other quality player, especially with the whims and fancies of a new ownership. Grandiose visions for a mid-table club will not buy that feeling in the locker room—when players know they're playing to win for a manager that believes in them and knows what he is doing.
But maybe we don't know a thing either. Maybe the Hatcheries saw something that neither of us did. Maybe they know whether the chicken came before the egg or not.
And Sir Alex? He can only blame himself and a slumbering Dimitar Berbatov for his good friend's unceremonious departure. For when the mercurial yet maddeningly inconsistent Bulgarian decides to showcase himself, not many stand a chance.
Just like poor Sam. He never really had a chance.
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