Chris Wheeler: Bonkers Blackburn for once display some sign of sense in sacking Berg
12:27 GMT, 27 December 2012
From the sock to the sack.
When Henning Berg stomped out of Blackburn’s Christmas party last week after he was made to wear a stocking on his head and do a little dance, many people thought the madness at Ewood Park could not get any worse.
Never in the history of English football has one club appeared to be so utterly bonkers for so long.
Singled-out: Blackburn have slid sharply down the Championship table since Berg took the reins at the club
From the arrival of Indian chicken farmers Venky’s and the snap decision to sack Sam Allardyce three years ago, to the fiasco of Steve Kean’s time in charge and now Berg’s ill-fated 10-game reign, this has been one long-running pantomime.
The bottom line is, however, that this morning’s decision to axe Berg and his coaching staff represented a rare outbreak of sanity.
Having been fiercely criticised for sticking with Kean for so long, Venky’s came to the conclusion that his replacement simply wasn’t working out.
On the day of his appointment it was announced that the 43-year-old Norwegian would be sacked if he failed to win promotion back to the Premier League.
After just one win in 10 games, and five defeats in six, he was sent packing with Rovers 17th in the Championship table. It was the logical outcome.
He had already been told to get rid of his backroom staff earlier this month. And then last week, Blackburn chief Shebby Singh revealed that they were looking at another candidate – probably former Blackburn boss Mark Hughes – who had not been available at the time of Berg’s appointment.
It wasn’t as if there were no warning signs, even before the Christmas party debacle.
Two months and gone: After resisting calls to sack Steve Kean for most of last season the Venky's were less than loyal to Berg
In fact, Berg would never have got the job in the first place had Blackburn been successful in their pursuit of several other candidates.
Tim Sherwood was the first choice, followed by Billy McKinlay. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was interested but not until next summer.
With the boardroom split over a move for Blackpool’s Ian Holloway, Berg got the final vote. He was always a somewhat awkward compromise.
He is a decent man and a Premier League title winner with Blackburn to boot. But his coaching record with Lyn Oslo and Lillestrom was not what you would call dazzling.
The team he inherited had taken Rovers to the top of the
table early this season and were third when Kean quit at the end of September,
so there is clearly potential.
We will never know how it would have worked out over time, but relegation – not promotion – was becoming the club’s main concern.
Seven years at the club as a player had no bearing as his team won just one match in his ten in charge
No owners have gambled more heavily on going up than Venky’s. Jordan Rhodes, bought from Huddersfield for 8million in the summer, was one of a raft of signings designed to get Blackburn back in the top-flight.
Their team is the highest-paid in the division and it’s understood that dwindling home gates – up to 4,000 down on last season – do not even pay the week’s wages for one of their top players.
The consequences of failure would be catastrophic, and that is what drove discussions as Mrs Anuradha Desai and her brothers watched yesterday’s defeat at Middlesbrough on television in Pune and sealed Berg’s fate.
For all the insanity that has epitomised their tenure, it would have been madness to keep him.