It's comical Ali! Blackburn linked to former India Under 15s and Dagenham community coach
23:14 GMT, 27 December 2012
Blackburn's Indian owners are preparing to appoint English professional football’s first British Asian coach, a 39-year-old former Arsenal trainee who until recently was running a community youth programme in Dagenham.
Judan Ali has also been the subject of ‘below average’ Bollywood movie Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal but his coaching experience hardly qualifies him to step in at Ewood Park in the wake of Henning Berg’s shock dismissal. Ali’s finest achievement to date was leading an Indian Under 15 side to victory in Arsenal’s ‘football festival’ in 2011.
But the Venky’s family see Ali as part of a managerial team alongside head coach Kevin MacDonald, the former Aston Villa coach.
Youth role: Ali meets England boss Roy
Hodgson earlier this year
Ali’s Twitter page has been taken down but on it, he had described himself as ‘an independent football coach leading those who want to further themselves on the world stage and to surpass the elite’.
Berg was sacked on Thursday after just 57 days and a run of one win from 10 games that has left Blackburn 17th in the Championship.
Before his departure he had, however, met Ali, who had spent a week observing the Norwegian former Rovers defender at the club’s Brockhall headquarters.
Blackburn are said to be comfortable seeing how the arrangement with MacDonald and Ali works out, and will not rush into appointing a more high-profile manager. Roberto Di Matteo heads a list of possible targets should Venky’s change their view. Youth development boss Gary Bowyer is set to take charge for Saturday’s trip to Barnsley.
London-born Ali, whose family moved to the UK from India, was on Arsenal’s books as a YTS trainee but blamed the racist culture within English football in the 80s and 90s for his failure to secure a professional contract in this country. He played for Spanish club Murcia before his coaching career.
Struggling: Blackburn are 17th in the Championship despite spending 8m on Jordan Rhodes (right) and paying Premier League wages for the likes of Danny Murphy (left)
‘My goal is to become the first British Asian Premier League manager,’ he said. ‘I want to take a country to the World Cup and the 2022 tournament in Qatar is my goal.
‘It’s a myth that British Asians cannot play football. I hope I’m showing young Asians in this country that they can make it and that things are changing from the experiences I suffered as a teenager.’
Ali’s appointment will form part of a move by Venky’s to assume closer control of the club. When they became the Premier League’s first Indian owners two years ago, the Rao family talked about tapping into Blackburn’s Asian community and offering a route into English football for young players from their homeland. They have plans to open an academy near the company headquarters in Pune.
Whether Blackburn’s fans will be receptive to the latest move is another matter, however, following Venky’s decision to axe Sam Allardyce in 2010, Steve Kean’s stormy reign and now Berg’s ill-fated stint.
Sacked: Berg was only unveiled at Ewood Park on November 1
The 43-year-old was made aware of his fate before going to Brockhall on Thursday morning to say his farewells. However, the coaching team Berg inherited from Kean – assistant Eric Black, first-team coach Iain Brunskill and goalkeeper coach Bobby Mimms – were only informed on arrival for work on Thursday.
From the start, it was clear Berg was not the first choice among candidates including other former Blackburn players Tim Sherwood and Billy McKinlay. He walked out of the club’s Christmas party last week after being asked to wear a stocking on his head and lost on Boxing Day at Middlesbrough – his fifth defeat in six games.
Berg issued a statement on Thursday: ‘I am bitterly disappointed to have been relieved of my managerial duties at Ewood Park after just 57 days since my appointment.’
Coincidentally, Kean has only just agreed a 1.2million settlement.