Trailblazing since 2010 - Following the Venky’s Blackburn Blueprint

July 24, 2012 in Championship, Premier League, Transfers

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As far as football takeovers go, the 2010 acquisition of Blackburn Rovers by Venky’s will surely go down as a failure. The Indian poultry family, who were unaware of the relegation rule in the Premier League, oversaw the demise of the East Lancashire side in May 2012, as Rovers dropped down into the Championship. From their base in India, they have theorised different ways of getting their club fighting for Champions League spots, but key decisions have gone against them. The sacking of Sam Allardyce, the appointment and continued support of ‘positive-thinker’ Steve Kean and the decision to allow chairman John Williams to step-down, have all backfired on the proud family club and their long suffering fans.

The Venky’s blueprint has seen a staggering amount of wrong turns being made by the former Premiership champions, but could it actually be copied by another English side? You’d think that the Venky’s approach would have been disregarded as a failure a long time ago, but could another family run club be taking tips from Anuradha Desai and co?

Enter the Al-Hasawi family, who earlier this month completed the purchase of Nottingham Forest. Forest, a club steeped in a rich history, were put up for sale in March after the sudden death of owner Nigel Doughty. A similar story can be seen at Rovers who were looking for new owners after Jack Walker’s family decided they didn’t want to continually pump money into the club.

Both sides had won significant trophies in the past, but pre-takeover, had fallen on hard times. The Al-Hasawi family and Venky’s both talked of improving performances on and off the pitch, so let’s look at how they compare.


First Major Decision

When takeovers happen, a new owner may want to spruce their new purchase up a little bit, and sometimes the easiest option is to sack the current manager. The story of Sam Allardyce’s sacking at Rovers has long been told; in short, Venky’s didn’t want him and got rid as soon as possible. The Al-Hasawi family didn’t even give Steve Cotterill time to prove himself, as he left a day after the Kuwaitis came to town.

Rovers decided that they were going to look for an ‘Outstanding’ candidate, whilst Forest decided to find an ‘Iconic’ manager.


First Managerial Appointment

Claims can sometimes be very hard to back up, and the search for a new manager can become a long, arduous, and not-so-fruitful process. This is when you don’t look outside of the club any more and decide to appoint from within. Venky’s and Al-Hasawi both eventually decided to appoint a coach from the previous management team. In Steve Kean, Rovers got a man with no previous management experience, although Ms Desai said that ‘he worked long hours and is talented at his job’.

Forest decided that Sean O’Driscoll should become their ‘Iconic’ appointment, whilst it was also stated that his ‘work ethic’ shone through during the interview process. O’Driscoll does have previous management experience, but the Forest players will remember him from his coaching career at the City Ground.

The jump from talented coach to manager is a difficult process; from a player’s perspective, a coach can be a friend, but a manager is there to ruffle feathers.


Transfer Talk

The first steps into the transfer market can tell you a lot about the new regime. Sheikh Mansour’s arrival at Manchester City heralded the arrival of Robinho from Real Madrid; the transfer was ambitious and showed intent.

When Venky’s took over Blackburn, they promised £5 million and dreams of the Champions League, but they also decided they should look closer to home to scour for talent, and try and find the ‘football equivalent of Sachin Tendulkar’.

Forest themselves have just taken on Kuwaiti striker Bader Al-Mutawa, who is widely considered one of the best players in the Kuwaiti league. If Forest do sign him, then he may become a hit in the Championship, or he may spend a year languishing in their reserve team, but what can’t be denied is that the opportunity would not have come about without gentle persuasion from the new owners.


Transfer Policy

One by one, the key figures at Blackburn left after Venky’s took over, and this allowed them full control of matters in hand at the club; in truth they failed to appoint replacements and the club languished into a steady decline. Steve Kean has been seen to be in charge of transfers and currently, every player he does sign will sing his praises from the off.

Forest, however, are doing this slightly differently. Sean O’Driscoll has been appointed to look after first-team affairs, but that will not include the recruitment of new players, for this will be left in the sole discretion of the Al-Hasawi family. It’s a strange process to go through, but it could work!

So long as the right players are bought and the team moves forward then the Forest fans can’t complain.


What Next?

October 3rd 2012 sees the first meeting between Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers since 2009. In the short space of three years, a lot of changes have been made at both clubs.

Venky’s and the Al-Hasawi family have come and changed things around. Seemingly, it looks like both clubs are going through a similar transition process, and who knows where it will end up for them.  The Al-Hasawi family seem to have taken note of key decisions made in the Venky’s blueprint, but we will only know if they are following it word for word if Forest are scrapping for their life at the bottom of the table next May.