It's taken them almost three years, but Venky's seem to have finally made a sensible decision.
The Indian owners have so far endured a number of catastrophes that have resulted in Blackburn Rovers currently languishing in the second-tier of English Football. It is not what was envisaged when they took over ownership of the club in November 2010. They have made a serious of bizarre decisions both on-and-off the pitch that have brought the club to it's knees and sent their beleaguered fans into despair.
So, with the announcement that Gary Bowyer has been given the Managers job on a permanent basis, does this signify a change in direction from the Poultry giants?
There's no doubting that Bowyer has earned this opportunity. During a season of unprecedented upheaval, Rovers has resembled a revolving door for Managers. First Steve Kean, then Henning Berg and finally Michael Appleton were all full-time Manager's during the previous campaign and were ruthlessly removed by the fumbling Board Members at the club. Gary Bowyer has been the one constant for both players and fans alike. He brought the club stability when it was needed most. During two spells as caretaker Bowyer amassed 6 wins, 4 draws and 3 defeats from 13 games (46% win percentage). More importantly, it ensured Blackburn Rovers avoided back-to-back relegations that would have sent the club into oblivion.
It was clear that the players wanted Bowyer to be given the job on a permanent basis. Established first-team stars such as Jason Lowe, David Dunn and Jordan Rhodes have all expressed their desire for the former Youth Team Coach to be given the reigns at the troubled club. The players needs have almost become an afterthought in recent times, Venky's will have restored some faith by the appointment of Bowyer. This is a minuscule step, but it is a step on the road to recovery.
However, the hard work starts now.
Massive changes will need to be implemented if this once proud club is to get back to it's former glory. Venky's are currently running the club at a loss of £2 million a month, something that has to change for the sake of the long-term security of the club. There are far too many senior players on extortionate wages that will need to be sold or released to trim the wage bill. Venky's and former Managers have been very naïve in their dealings in the transfer market and that is a trend that has to be halted. Opportunistic agents have seen Rovers as a chance to make a quick buck due to the incompetence of Venky's and the club have suffered as a result.
If the recent free transfers are any indication, Venky's may be taking a different approach to this season than they did the last. They have made a couple of astute signings which will have cost the club very little. Alan Judge will be returning to the club from Notts County and will be expected to contribute immediately. With the parachute payments declining and the Football League's 'Financial Fair Play' ruling set to be implemented this season, this could be a sign of things to come for Rovers in the transfer market. Whilst there will be no penalties during the first two seasons of the ruling, it would seem that Blackburn could be in the Championship for some time and they must begin to tighten their belts if the Lancashire outfit are to avoid further penalties.
Whether they like it or not, Blackburn Rovers as a whole needs to be stabilised if the club are to have any chance of returning to the Premier League. The chances of that happening next season are slim at best, what Rovers need is a long-term plan with clear objectives at the end of each season which will hopefully culminate in this proud club's return to the top flight. The way Venky's have operated so far suggests they may look for a quick fix and Bowyer will no doubt be under pressure from the very outset. Hardly surprising, given the Indian's hair-trigger response to recent disappointments. There is no 'quick-fix' at this, or any, football club. This is where Venky's have gone wrong in the past, throwing money at a problem and hoping for a miracle. Last season must have proved that this cannot work in the ultra-competitive Championship and expectations must be lowered coming into this season.
Bowyer, who signed a 12-month rolling contract on Friday, will also have to convince the club's stars that their future lies with the club. Some will no doubt be tempted by the prospect of playing in the Premier League and Blackburn can expect concrete offers in the not-to-distant future for their better performers last season.
Priority number one on the player-front will be Jordan Rhodes, the club's Player of the Season and top scorer. Rovers raised eyebrows last summer when they paid Huddersfield £8 million for the talented, yet unproven, Striker. He has answered his critics with a sensational season, scoring 28 goals for the club, proving himself as one of the deadliest finishers in the lower divisions. Blackburn would surely have been condemned to League 1 had it not been for Rhodes' vital goals throughout the season. With Fulham, West Ham and newly promoted Hull City set to be interested in his services, Bowyer has a monumental task on his hands if he wishes to keep hold of his prized possession.
Centre Back Scott Dann will also be a player of interest for some of the Premier League teams looking to strengthen. Dann bore the brunt of the fans' criticism following their relegation and there was speculation as to whether he would be sold during the summer. Dann remained at Rovers, was made Captain during the season and his performances were outstanding for the majority of the last campaign. Bowyer will be hoping Dann returns the loyalty that Rovers showed in him during the summer months and he remains at the club, at least for the upcoming season. Losing their Captain and defensive general would be a massive blow this squad can ill-afford at the present time.
The decision to appoint Bowyer as Manager will not please all the fans at this once proud club, but it is the right decision. Some sections of the Rovers support are now so blinded by their hatred of Venky's that they feel every decision they make is one that will harm the club. No matter what the Indian owners do from now on, it will not be sufficient enough to make up for three years of broken promises and failure. Only selling the club will do, the 'Rovers Trust' gaining momentum by the day as they look to give the club back to the fans. So far it has fallen on deaf ears, Venky's clearly feeling they can still salvage a desperate situation.
Signings of note will have to be made, that is without question. Whether or not Venky's will provide Bowyer with adequate funds will say much about their faith in his abilities to take Blackburn back to the promised land. Midfield signings are essential, far too exposed by the pace and power of the better sides in the Division, Rovers must look to get younger and stronger in the middle of the park to ensure last seasons struggles aren't repeated.
Bowyer has spent nine years on the fringes of the Football Club, developing the club's youth players in their extremely successful academy. Now he is thrust, almost reluctantly, into the spotlight. He has the benefit of already knowing the proud traditions of the club, the values it hold dear and just what the fans expect. Only time will tell as to whether or not they have made the right appointment. The stability Bowyer will bring will do the club a power of good in the short-term.
As for the long term, heaven only knows. The hard work starts now for the 41-year old and his staff.
Venky's will no doubt be watching with their finger on the trigger, from the comfort of their base in Pune.
Strap yourselves in, it could be another bumpy ride.
Dean Jones: Follow me on Twitter @DeanJones_