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Long winter ahead - Interview
Wednesday, 7th Sep 2016 23:10 by Clive Whittingham

Blackburn fan James Hands reflects on the difficult situation his club has worked itself into on the pitch, in the dugout and in the boardroom.

Oh James, it's not going well is it? What, generally, overall, is causing the problems at Blackburn?

JH: The problems at Blackburn can be summed up by one word: Venkys. The owners have sold off our best players and not reinvested the money in the squad. Our squad is now made up of loans and freebies and with parachute payments coming to an end we have very little to look forward to as the owners will not communicate with the fans their intentions. During the summer two local businessmen (and fans) presented the Venkys with an offer to invest capital into the club which Venkys declined. The fans are extremely concerned about the club’s future.

And specifically, what's gone wrong so far this season?

JH: Our playing squad is poor. Like I say, the team being packed with loans and free transfers, In a division which is becoming more and more competitive you need to invest money into transfers if you have any aspirations. Clearly, the Venkys do not share this view. We have sold our best defender - Grant Hanley - and we do not possess a Championship quality left or right back so it’s no coincidence that we have already conceded 12 goals this season. To be honest we are not scoring too many either which is also a concern.

Why didn’t Paul Lambert stay?

JH: I assume Paul Lambert only accepted the Rovers job in the first place on the promise that we would come out of the transfer embargo (which we did) and that he would receive significant funds during the summer to mastermind a promotion bid. When it was apparent that the funds were not going to be available Lambert made noises in the media and in interviews that he was unlikely to stick around which ultimately proved to be the case. It was a very odd chain of events. For what it's worth I don't think Lambert was a particularly good manager anyway.

Owen Coyle didn't seem a popular choice. What did you make of the appointment and how's it going so far!?

JH: The whole managerial process was a farce. We were told that there was a shortlist (which didn't contain Owen Coyle) then totally out of the blue Coyle was appointed and referred to as the 'outstanding candidate' despite his recent poor record at Houston Dynamos and Wigan. Personally, I was just relieved to get someone through the door to try and organise the mess and whether he had Burnley connections or not didn't matter to me too much. Coyle is extremely infectious and talks passionately and, on the surface, honestly and, to his credit, he has brought in a lot of players in a short period of time. That said, we are seeing his weaknesses as a coach especially on the defensive side which is a worry. It's also a concern that some of the players do not appear to be playing for him already.

Main comings and goings over the summer?

JH: Main departure was definitely Grant Hanley - our captain and Player of the Year. He was superb last season and head and shoulders one of the best centre halves in the league. Main comings were Danny Graham (who hopefully can recapture the form from last season when he was with us on loan) and I also think Charlie Mulgrew could prove to be a shrewd acquisition. It was also important to keep Ben Marshall to at least January also.

Now Shane Duffy's an interesting one isn't he? Three own goals, a red card, all sorts of stories about being out on the piss, and then a big money move to Brighton. What on earth was going on there?

JH: Shane Duffy is a poor player. His distribution, positioning and actual defending is poor and the form of Grant Hanley last season disguised this. Duffy was in the last year of his contract and following a decent Euros with the Republic of Ireland I believed he was expecting a flourish of offers from bigger clubs. Regardless of his own goals and red cards this season, it was apparent that Duffy was not giving 100% and that's the disappointing thing from a fans point of view. You can also throw in the fact that his dad and brother show Blackburn Rovers a lack of respect on social media. It’s fair to say that Brighton have paid well over the odds for a very mediocre player.

Where is the team strong, where is it weak?

JH: It's clear we are weak defensively. However, we have just acquired Tommie Hoban from Watford and Derrick Williams from Bristol City who had made promising debuts in the defeat to Fulham so hopefully the signs are good. We are also not scoring enough goals but with Danny Graham, Antony Stokes, Sam Gallagher and Marvin Emnes there is hope that this will change. Where are we strong?..... this is tough.... erm, Craig Conway can take a decent corner.

Is this just a poor start that will soon pick up, or is this season looking bleak?

JH: We were always destined to have a disappointing season. You need calm and organisation behind the scenes to be able to be successful and we just do not have that. I hope that we can avoid relegation as the name of Blackburn Rovers and the supporters deserve this but it's going to be one hard slog. Fingers crossed.

Can the club ever go anywhere with the Venky's in charge? What are the alternatives?

JH: I think club is past the point of no return with regards to the owners. They have caused too much damage which is irreparable and the fans will never be able to forgive them. We are experiencing new lows with regards to attendances at Ewood Park as the supporters are protesting with their absence. I am aware that there are local Blackburn people who want to invest into the club but for the foreseeable it’s unlikely the Venkys will listen. I am still staggered that the Venkys passed the FA's 'fit and proper' test and I believe that the authorities should step in and investigate their ownership which is unlikely. All we can hope is that Venkys one day will realise they need to cut their losses and sell up..... I've just seen a flying pig over my office.

The Twitter @loftforwords, @kittman14

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TacticalR added 12:40 - Sep 8
Thanks to James.

The Venkys have created a strange limbo where they don't seem to be involved but don't want to let go.

The appointment of Owen Coyle does not bode well.

francisbowles added 09:33 - Sep 10
Thanks James, it's a sad day when the real supporters morale is so low. Even in our worst excesses we still had a certain, misguided, level of belief that it was going to improve!

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