Their Indian owners once talked about pushing Blackburn Rovers into the elite tier of the English Premier League but just 18 months after their takeover, poultry giants Venky's are contemplating relegation.
In the midst of Blackburn Rovers' defeat to Bolton Wanderers last week, a tall unkempt man strode along the front of the stand toward the home dugout. Steve Kean, wisely, was standing at the front of his technical area, barking instructions and waving his arms to offer a simulacrum of control, as far from the fans as is possible under Premier League regulations. The man stood, unmolested by stewards, just behind the perimeter advertising hoarding. Slowly, he raised his left arm and, with a dramatic flourish, pointed off to his left.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson signaled his intention to stay at the English Premier League champions for at least three more years but struggling Blackburn wrecked his 70th birthday celebrations with a stunning 3-2 win at Old Trafford Saturday.
The international break is a time for contemplation and reflection in the domestic leagues. It's a chance for the owners of football clubs to pause and take stock of their season so far. Frankly, that's the last thing that three beleaguered managers at the wrong end of the Premier League need right now. Owen Coyle, Steve Kean and Steve Bruce are all just a couple of bad results away from spending considerably more time with their families.
For once a manager might be pleased to open the newspaper and find that his team's victory is being reported first and foremost as the opposition's loss; after a hair'em scare'em 4-3 win over Arsenal on Saturday, Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean will be glad of all the kudos and none of the forensic examination. Before kickoff, a couple of hundred supporters had marched to the ground in monsoon weather calling for him to be sacked, and the ludicrously thrilling match was the second thing to rain on their parade.
The post-Bosman age of contractual freedom has made it much harder for the smaller European teams to hold onto their best players. In the case of German champions Borussia Dortmund, however, the fact that it succeeded with the youngest ever side now rather than, say, 20, years ago, actually works in its favor. In those days, every half-decent Germany player was snapped up instantly by Serie A clubs and Jürgen Klopp's side would have been dismantled in the time it takes to drink an espresso. But the Bundesliga's newfound prosperity has stopped the migration across the Alps in recent years. The crème of young German talent will only move to a handful of European super-clubs now, and for that reason alone it is unlikely that Borussia's brave young squad will suffer too much hemorrhage. It's therefore safe to disregard the "Mario Götze to Arsenal" or "Neven Subotic to Chelsea" rumors that will abound this summer. But some -- almost exclusively foreign -- players will still be on the
With the dust continuing to settle after the United States Under-20 national team's failure to qualify for this summer's World Cup, one silver lining still holds true after the mammoth collective disappointment.
The Premier League table at Christmas is generally regarded as a kind of crystal ball, channelling the end of the season to reveal the likely winners and losers. Since 2005-06, the festive leaders have gone on to lift the trophy four times out of six, while only one bottom-placed club has escaped relegation with a new-year flourish in the Premier League era. If you want to delve even further -- all the way back to 1888-89, in fact -- you'll find that 41 percent of champions have led at Christmas, while 71 percent of last-place stragglers were already dawdling behind the pack by the time Rudolph skidded to a halt on your rooftop. Sorry, Hammers.
Under normal circumstances in the Premier League, you'd look at a side that was five points clear with a quarter of the season played and assume it was strolling toward the title. These, though, are not normal circumstances.
Tackling has moved to the top of the Premier League agenda this week after Fulham's Bobby Zamora suffered a broken leg against Wolves and Arsenal substitute Abou Diaby had to be substituted himself, 13 minutes after coming on, thanks to a Paul Robinson challenge aimed at the ankle he dislocated four years ago.
Managers are a bit like prom dates: It always feels better to have one whom everyone else wanted. So it is perhaps understandable that, having initially had their team's advances warmly received by the massively popular Martin Jol, some Fulham fans are not quite so excited about buying a wristlet for the slightly less affable Mark Hughes instead.
After a summer of increasingly intensive thumb-twiddling and hours spent aimlessly wandering the corridors of Castle Limey, the excitement is at fever pitch as the English Premier League season returns this weekend. Last week we gave you our predictions for the season, and this week we're taking a detailed look at the first couple of fixtures following the big kick-off.