Some people at Blackburn Rovers Football Club just don't know what is good for them.
Exhibit A: 'Global Advisor Shebby Singh.
The controversial figure has been causing controversy once again this week, defending the clubs Indian Owners 'Venky's' whilst launching a scathing attack on the people looking to take the Club from their clearly incompetent hands.
Singh is a symbol of everything that has been wrong at the Football Club for the last 2 years. A former Malaysian International and Asian football pundit, Singh arrived on the scene at Blackburn in 2012 with the term 'Global Advisor'. Few knew what that title actually meant and what responsibilities Singh actually had to justify his £400,000 a year salary but there was so much confusion surrounding Blackburn at the time that it went relatively unnoticed.
It wasn't long before Singh began making a name for himself by putting his foot in his mouth. In a question and answer session with fans set up by the 'Action Group' Singh declared that beleaguered Manager Steve Kean would be immediately sacked if the side lost three games in a row in the Championship, which obviously went down well with fans who blamed Kean for the club's relegation. Singh should have left it there as it was a headline-making statement all by itself. However, with the spotlight and the camera on him he continued his bold statements by claiming Blackburn's longest serving player Morten Gamst Pedersen was 'A Pensioner' and he could no longer be counted on for high-level performances. The fans did not take well to this callous remark over one of their most committed players.
Singh put his foot in his mouth and it has rarely been removed since.
Kean, of course, was removed. Whether he jumped or was pushed it is still unclear. What was clear was Singh's influence over Rovers and the owners of the club. Singh was now appearing regularly on TV and Radio stating he was running the club with the authority of Venky's. All may have appeared Rosy behind-the-scenes but in fact there was a bitter power struggle developing between Singh and board members Derek Shaw and Paul Agnew that would eventually plunge the club into an even deeper crisis.
The first conflict occurred in relation to the appointment of Kean's successor. Singh was adamant that he wanted an ex-player to come in and galvanise players and supporters alike. Shaw and Agnew, on the other hand, had identified Ian Holloway from nearby Blackpool as the man to take Rovers back to the promised land. Singh's influence with the owners was key and Henning Berg was appointed. A former League winner with Rovers in 1995, Berg was relatively inexperienced and had little success in his time Managing in his native Norway. Singh had got his way though and it was clear for all to see he couldn't be happier about it.
Berg's reign as Rovers Manager was a catastrophe. He was removed after just 67 days and one victory. The rumour was that Shaw and Agnew had gone to Venky behind Singh's back and called for action to be taken. It is not known whether this is true but it's hard to envisage Singh wanting Berg removed after fighting his corner so hard in the first place. This was an extremely embarrassing moment for Singh and his silence spoke volumes. He was now on the fringes of the decision-making process at Rovers.
Singh was apparently excluded from the selection process of their next manager altogether as Shaw and Agnew had appeared to have won the power struggle. They again looked to Blackpool as they had wanted to do previously. Ian Holloway had long since departed for Crystal Palace, the man was Michael Appleton. Appleton was seen as the no-nonsense manager that was needed to give these talented but underachieving players a lift.
The result? A shorter reign than even Berg's.
57 days is all it took for Singh to bend the owner's ear regarding Appleton's ability and he was subsequently removed. The football club was now in absolute chaos and was free-falling to back-to-back relegation's. Singh was now at the head of affairs once more. You can always tell because he is rarely out of the glare of the media spotlight. Singh seems to crave the attention and this occasion was no different. He was quick to distance himself from Appleton's appointment and stated that Gary Bowyer would be given the job until the end of the season while they searched for the 'Right Appointment'. With so much friction behind the scenes and Managers suffering as a result you have to wonder what manager in their right mind would want to work under these conditions?
A report recently published shows just how naïve Venky's and Singh have been in the transfer market that is threatening to plunge Blackburn into financial meltdown. Singh had signed a number of relatively unknown players from Portugal during the pre-season, most of which have already been shipped out of the club. While the players were relatively cheap the agents fees of £600,000 are extraordinary, especially considering between them these players have made four league starts.
It gets worse, Rovers and Singh have committed £30 million pounds to 13 players (contracts, agent fees, transfer fees) and the agent acting for Colin Kazim-Richards, Dickson Etuhu, Danny Murphy and Leon Best was paid £1 million for his part in the transfers. Add to that the ex-managers they are currently paying (Kean, Berg, Appleton) and the extortionate wages being paid to players that are simply past their best (Murphy: £35,000 per week, Etuhu: £30,000 per week) and Blackburn are said to be losing £2 million a month.
Or in translation, inept running of a club. The likes of which have seldom been seen before.
Singh and Venky's have clearly been taken for a ride by opportunistic agents who see their lack of experience as a perfect chance to make money. This isn't the first time this has happened to Venky's, an agent who shall not be named (legal reasons) did something very similar when the Indians took over the club. Singh was given the responsibility and has failed miserably. It makes the decision to let go of good football minds John Williams and Robert Coar even more inexplicable.
With the latest outburst on the Rovers Trust, Singh has distanced himself even further from the fans. Once seen as a go-between between the owners and fans, Singh has now shown his true colours and sided with the owners in the wake of such intense criticism. He stated to Goal.com 'These people couldn't run a bar, not a football club' and 'Where were these people when the club was for sale for many years?'. Simple fact is, it is the drastic ownership of Venky's and the incompetent decisions made by Singh that have called for such drastic action. 'The Walker Trust' were obviously desperate to sell but at least they had the right people in place to ensure the club was run efficiently until suitable buyers were found.
Venky's cannot keep running this once proud club from India, that is certain. Their distance from the fighting tearing the club apart speaks volumes. Singh now has the look of an irrational dictator quoting the very man who he looked to oust when he took the ludicrous position of 'Global Advisor'. Terms like 'Wholesale Changes' and 'Cleansing the club' have all been made before and the fans are tired of it. For nearly three years now it has been a lot of big talk and not a lot of action and if things continue as they are things are going to come crashing down in a monumental way. The fans must revolt against this tyranny and fight for what the club has stood for throughout their 138 year existence.
Singh, like Kean before him, states 'The fans are behind me' and 'I have a good relationship with them'. This is more bravado from Singh, anyone who has stepped foot inside Ewood Park at anytime in the last few months knows that is not the case. Singh and Venky's have sucked the heart and soul out of the club and the worst thing is they don't even realise it. Rovers face 3 critical games to end their season if they are to stay in the Championship. If they do stay up, they will be fortunate that is for sure. The backroom bickering for control has no doubt had an affect on the players, who appear disinterested and as confused as everybody watching.
This was a team that were one of the pre-season favourites for promotion and most experts predicted a swift return to the top flight. They couldn't have got it more wrong. The highest paid squad in the Championship have flattered to deceive and see themselves fighting for their lives. It is perceived that they need 4 points from their 3 remaining games to guarantee survival. Most conclude the very future of the club depends on it.
Everyone can see what's at stake...
Everyone but Singh, the Tyrannical Leader Blackburn Rovers just don't need.
Dean Jones: Follow me on Twitter @DeanJones_