Ince by Inch: The BomBom Perspective (Part 1)
Wow. Where to begin. It seems a long time ago since Messer`s Hughes, Bowen et al, upped and departed for pastures greener. The disappointment, coupled with the excitement of finding a suitable replacement made for an interesting summer.
The European Championships did not help, getting in the way of our managerial hunt, or so us Rovers fans thought.
Alan Shearer was the Fans choice, even though I could understand why, Super Al was never going to be the right appointment to take us forward, following on from the groundwork done by Souness and Hughes. No, what Rovers needed was an established coach, preferably with a "name"; one that could attract the top talent in Blackburn`s attempt to push on and secure one of the Champions League places.
Then there was Steve McClaren, and then Sam Allardyce, Slaven Bilic was mentioned as were some coaches from the continent. The name that rose to the top was Paul Ince, with Sam Allardyce a close second after Alan Shearer withdrawing from the race for the job. Allardyce was not a popular choice due to his links with Bolton and some disparaging comments made about Rovers last season.
When the dust started to settle, it seemed that Ince, along with a mystery coach from the continent were the front runners. The consensus remained positive that Ince could do the job, whilst there was a small band that hoped, nay prayed for Michael Laudrup to be the choice, someone who ticked every box except Premier League experience.
Finally, on June 22nd, the club announced the appointment of Paul Ince as the new manager.
Some fans welcomed it, some grumbled but everyone got behind the appointment and hoped for good things to come.
Then the transfers started to happen. Firstly, in came Paul Robinson for the outgoing Brad Friedel. This one was out of his hands as Bra wanted to leave and it was for a bigger deal than Rovers could ever offer him, he went with our best wished and fond memories.
David Bentley, meanwhile, continually threw toys from his pram until his wish was granted and he left, for Tottenham Hotspur (and then promptly lots his place in the England squad!) It was unanimously agreed that Bentley, for all his prima donna ways, was a key component in Rovers success the previous year and would need replacing. We waited…..and waited…and waited.
Meanwhile, we signed other players, while Ince put his backroom staff together. A staff consisting of, as far as I am concerned, Has beens, never will be`s and dinosaurs. With the best will in the world, there was a reason Archie Knox was unattached as a coach and a reason why Ray Matthias had never managed or coached in the top division.
Then the "old" players started to grumble, the likes of McCarthy and Warnock, all the while the fans, on the outside looking in, began to worry. All these issues and still no Bentley sale.
Then came the signings of the season! Keith Andrews from MK Dons, even though he has proven to be a serviceable midfielder, he isn`t Premiership quality and isn't a player that will take Rovers to the next level and also, he isn`t a right midfielder. Then came a potentially great signing…10 years too late, in the form of Robbie Fowler.
A lot of these sins were forgiven after the opening day defeat of Everton; 3 points, one game played and we scored 3.
Alas this wasn`t a sign of things to come.