For potential applicants, East Lancashire currently provides three interesting opportunities, writes Andrew Frost.
It’s pretty unusual that three clubs within the same league, of similar stature and within a 20-mile radius of each other would all be advertising for a new manager at the same time.
The whole footballing world acknowledged Steve Kean’s position with Blackburn Rovers was untenable – even before his inevitable resignation. However, Owen Coyle’s exit from Bolton was more of a surprise considering the affinity the Scot apparently had with the Trotters faithful.
These departures meant Eddie Howe’s return to Bournemouth last week couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Clarets board, which now will almost certainly have to compete with our local rivals in the pursuit of certain managers.
Should an applicant such as Mick McCarthy appear on any two or more of the respective clubs’ shortlists, John Banaszkiewicz, Mike Garlick and fellow members of the board will have their work cut out in order to obtain the desired man’s services and fend off other club’s interest.
Here are some key factors which the board could use in influencing the manager’s decision.
Surely the opportunity to follow in Kean’s footsteps and work under the stewardship of Venky’s is one too good to turn down? Ok, you might have sussed my blatant sarcasm, but in all seriousness, the Rovers board could be a determining factor in a choice between two clubs for someone like McCarthy. Venky’s total lack of understanding of how to run a football club could hinder their chances of obtaining someone other than a ‘yes’ man.
Down the road, Gartside himself is steadily earning a reputation of someone who is quick to wield the axe and that too could ward off managers craving stability. For ourselves, it will provide the first opportunity for the new joint-chairmen to hire their desired man and if they share Barry Kilby’s patience with previous managers, the new man should expect plenty of time and support to achieve his ambitions with the club.
Even before Bolton’s relegation last season, the club had been struggling with enormous amounts of debts – estimated at around £100 million – meaning the club is currently unable to compete with the bigger clubs in the transfer market.
Despite not being in debt ourselves, potential managers will also face limited budgets at the Turf and this could put off someone like McCarthy who would probably be wanting a large transfer kitty.
Rovers’ finances remain a mystery – not just to myself – but also to most fans I have spoken with. Shebby Singh during the summer stated the club was financially sound and to be fair this has been backed up by the £8 million purchase of Jordan Rhodes, so it would seem the Ewood post could potentially come with a sizeable budget.
When was the last time Bolton produced a home-grown player of genuine ability? Your guess is as good as mine. Coaches who head to the Reebok should not be expecting an academy brimming with future talent, but instead the chance to inherit an ageing squad in much need of some youth.
The Clarets’ on the other hand, have been criticised by many for having too little experience which has often led to our downfall. However, Eddie Howe’s dedication to the future has at least left us with genuine quality in players like Kieran Trippier and Danny Ings who have the potential to help the club progress.
For me though, Blackburn has the most potential in terms of youth prospects. The reputable Brockhall academy has recently delivered Phil Jones, Jason Lowe and Grant Hanley and the club’s appearance in last season’s FA Youth Cup Final only highlighted their ability to produce more stars.
In terms of squad ability, Burnley’s is undoubtedly the weakest out of the three due to the vast amount of Premier League experience both Bolton and Blackburn possess within their ranks. We may have the hottest striker outside of the top-flight right now, but other than that no other player’s form would warrant a place in a Premier League side. It’s hard to separate the other two squads as they both possess quality players like Danny Murphy, Paul Robinson and Mark Davies – who should all probably be playing at a higher level.
Finally, it is useful to analyse how a manager would be treated by the respective fans. However you view Steve Kean’s reign, it’s hard not to feel sorry for the guy after he lost his job despite guiding Blackburn to a relatively good start – where they sat comfortably in the top six. The Rovers fans were extremely critical of the Scot, so any appointment will need to have an immediate positive impact to keep the supporters on side.
The position at the Reebok would also be a very similar situation following the Wanderers’ faithfull’s ruthlessness with previous managers Owen Coyle and Gary Megson. The fact that Burnley aren’t widely expected to challenge for a play-off place would allow the manager the similar time Howe was given to bed in and take us forward.
So if we were to conclude from the results, it would seem the Ewood Park hot-seat would be the vacancy to take should you be wanting the best opportunity to get into the Premier League. However the position comes with the disadvantage of working under obtrusive owners, so the Burnley vacancy may be prove to be more appealing in the bigger picture.
Despite the Clarets lack of financial muscle, the stability and potential our club has to offer could hopefully prove decisive, should we need to rival one of our north-west enemies for a chosen target.
Is this a fair assessment of all three clubs? What do you think could be a deciding factor for a manager? Comment below.