Football Psychology: Michael Appleton – Sacked!

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Football PsychologyUnder the knowing leadership of Sam Allardyce, Blackburn Rovers were a settled and stable Premier League club. Never likely to repeat their title-winning feats under Kenny Dalglish, Rovers could be pretty much guaranteed regular top flight football.

Then everything changed. New owners came in. The Venkys. Owners not steeped in the history of the game. Owners seeing their investment as a high profile marketing campaign for their international chicken based business.

And with new ownership came unsettlement. A mismatch of values occured. A community based football club steeped in the traditions of the English game. Owners with no understanding of that tradition.

Unsettlement which infected the process of making key decisions. The appointment of managers has seemed random and lacking in astuteness. There appears to have been no understanding of what constitutes a Blackburn Rovers manager. The values; qualities; football philosophy. Thus the recruitment process is undermined by the misalignment of values and intention. Hope appears to be the order of the day.

And when managers under-perform they are quickly dismissed. A new boss has to come in and start again. Henning Berg fifty seven days. Michael Appleton sixty seven days. Instability is the order of the day.

As Sir Alex Ferguson said recently, when managers are hired and fired so quickly, it empowers the dressing room. The players, lacking external leadership, excercise their own form of control. They know their boss may not be in his job long, so are under little pressure to perform for him.

So a cycle of under-performance holds sway. The manager struggles to get the best out of his players. Thus, the players recognise that they can get away with things, because they know the manager will have to take the consequences for their under-performance.

The reality is that all this begins at the top. The Venkys, if they are serious about taking Blackburn Rovers forward, need to settle down. Temper their impatience. Recognise that they must be in it for the long haul. In it for the best interests of Blackburn Rovers Football Club.

There to serve the needs of the club, the fans and the town. In which any benefit they or their business accrues, is simply a side effect of the service they provide for Blackburn.

Until this realignment is in place, Blackburn Rovers will continue to embody the very worst of the partnership between modern wealthy ‘new to football’ owners and traditional community based clubs.