Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Press playing the numbers game

This summer transfer window is the strangest one that I can ever remember. The press seem to pull another name out of the hat on a daily basis to whom they think Rovers may be chasing, So far many of the names that have been mentioned have been a million miles wide of the mark.

If a player appears available then straight away he is linked to Rovers and its getting quite annoying, and is what I like to call "Lazy Journalism". Everyone likes to hear Rovers are chasing this player or are chasing that player, but that jubilation soon turns to despair as the rumour mill goes into overdrive and very few stories have any real substance in them.

Behind the scenes Rovers have been careful to keep their dealings away from the press, Some quarters of the press would have you believe that all is not well at Blackburn and no-one is making any decisions, Their evidence of this is simply they are not been told anything, However if you look at the facts, ever since Venky's took control of Blackburn they have been given a torrid time by the red tops.Whilst contract clauses ect have also appeared in the press which has helped engineer moves for players away from Ewood. Put yourself in Venky's shoes, Would you trust the press and risk letting the cat out of the bag so you find yourself in an auction for a target?

July 1st is when the business end of transfers commence, Players from oversea clubs are not eligible to join another club officially until that date. I have read the message boards and it appears that the press have inflicted widespread panic amongst Rovers fans. You need to remember many players are away on Holiday whilst others have had International commitments.

Signings are far closer to being done than the press would have you believe, The truth is, they don't know and need to sell papers, so many of the stories are fabricated in hope that they strike it lucky with a name so they can say a few weeks down the line that they brought you the news first.

I plead with all Rovers fans to keep the faith, and go with the flow, good things come to those who wait,

I'm getting tired of reading "I wouldn't pay that for him" or "He is not worth that" or "we should buy this one"

We have the largest transfer budget in the history of the club and the club intends to get value for money by bringing players in who can hit the ground running. They want to bring players both for the short term and the long term, but most importantly that are ready for the challenge which is the Premiership come August.

A senior source at the club has shared many things with me over the last few weeks which should give us all optimism for the future and due to the nature of the source I have to remain quiet at this point to the content of those discussions, However what I will say is take things with a pinch of salt what you are reading in the press or on message boards with quotes from the press, or it will just drive you crazy.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

What next for Rovers?

Message boards, Forums, Facebook and Twitter  have been overloaded in the last 24 hours with posts from Blackburn Rovers fans who feel the heart has been ripped out of their club.

Blackburn held a meeting with Jones on Monday over his future when the player indicated that he would like  to speak to other clubs over a potential move. Rovers reaction to this was of total shock especially as the player had only signed a new deal in January, Steve Kean was also worried that the minimum release clause which was put into his new deal would leave Rovers powerless should this figure be met. Rovers reacted by putting a new contract on the table which would of doubled Jones wages and made him one of the highest earners at Ewood, However Jones was adamant that he wished to consider his options. This was relayed back through the players agent to potential suitors and the bidding war began.

Now Rovers up to the this stage had put up a good fight to retain the services of the highly rated England under 21 International, Rovers did not need to sell and had no wish to sell.

Enquiries started coming in for the player as Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool all made enquiries and the bids were lodged, some where straight cash deals whilst other clubs tried tempting Rovers into action by offering players in exchange. It is rumoured that Spurs bid especially was made up of a number of players coming to Rovers as part of the deal, and Harry Rednapp confirmed that they were keen to add Jones to their squad.

Now when Steve Kean was really needed to pull out the stops to try and persuade Jones to stay he was too busy spending the day in court answering charges of "Driving under the influence of Alcohol". Whilst he was missing in action Liverpool and Arsenal triggered the release clause fee which allowed Jones to hold talks with both clubs. It would prove to be a busy day for Liverpool and ex Rovers Manager Kenny Dalglish who was also busy trying to negotiate the transfer of Jones International team mate Jordan Henderson from Sunderland. As Tuesday came to a close Liverpool had agreed terms for Henderson and it looked highly likely that Jones would also be joining the Merseyside club as he had no wish to leave the North West, which rules the other three runners from London out of the running. At the eleventh hour on Tuesday Night Manchester United asked for permission to speak to the player although no fee was agreed with United at this time.

On Wednesday with Kean on route to India to meet Rovers club owners Venkys and the bookies freezing bets on Jones joining Liverpool, Jones travelled to Manchester to hold talks with United and under went a medical. Whilst this was all going on United started pinging various offers to Rovers including offering players as part of the deal, but Rovers would not move on the clause and United finally agreed to meet the asking price for the player. Its being reported that the clause and figure was around £16 million pounds although a source has today told me that the deal is a club record for a fee received by Rovers. It is also rumoured that the medical did not go without a hiccup and United are currently waiting clearance from their insurance company before they complete the deal, this however is just a formality.

Blackburn had promised fans that Jones would not be sold but with the clause in place they were powerless, Many are asking the question why Rovers allowed such a clause? This is simple when Jones new contract was agreed it would of been at the request of the player and the players agent that such a clause existed especially after Rovers had already turned down bids of £8 Million pounds earlier in the season from both Arsenal and Chelsea. If Jones had not signed the deal in January then Rovers could of ended up selling the player for well below the figure they are going to receive and this would of been as big as blow as losing the player.

With Kean still in India the bad news appears not to have stopped there, With Arsenal missing out on Jones they have now turned their attentions back to Chris Samba. Arsene Wenger made tentative enquiries in January and has also made further enquires since the end of the season. With Samba also adding meat to the bones by stating that he is at the time of his career where he would like to be playing in Europe and for a club  that can realistically win trophies this will only encourage Arsenal to try Rovers resolve with another bid. Blackburn and Arsenal at present are a million miles away in terms of the players valuation as Rovers do not want to sell their inspirational Captain for less than £12 Million whilst Arsenal who are renowned for being penny pincher's value the player at around £8 Million.

Is it a case of pay up or shut up? I wish that was the case, but Samba has already once in the last 6 months demanded a transfer and if Arsenal do place the bid then he is expected to once again demand a move if Rovers stand in his way. Again like Jones Blackburn are keen to hold onto the player and have no desire to sell, but as history proves once a player wants out its more of a case WHEN and not IF.

They say bad luck comes in three's and a source within the club has now put another spin on the Hoilett contract saga. Steve Kean said earlier in the season that Hoilett would be offered a new deal in the summer and he wanted him to concentrate on the job in hand which was helping Rovers stay up. It was strange that other players including Roberts signed new deals in January whilst Hoilett's, who has been the stand out performer this season was left despite him now only having a year to run on it. Hoilett spoke a few weeks ago, and said he was enjoying life at Rovers now he is enjoying regular football and he was looking forward to penning a new deal. Kean then went on record by saying he would be Travelling to Canada to discuss a new deal with Hoilett and his Father. That trip has to date not occurred or been arranged, and the other point to make on this is its the club that puts terms to the the players and not Managers. A strong source who has been reliable over the years in other news I have broke has today said "The deal has stalled, There are a number of clubs interested in Hoilett and think they can get him on the cheap due to him entering the final year of his contract". This is worrying and could potentially see Rovers losing their three best players from last season. Contract talks stalling is not something new and is usually rectified, However with Jones already outward bound this will undoubtedly have an effect on Hoilett's decision to re-sign, especially if Samba also joins Jones out the door. However another source questioned the validity of this claim as he said he had spoken with Martin Olsson who had told him that Hoilett is without question staying.

Rovers are beginning to feel the effects of having no chain of command on these shores, and with Venkys still running their operations from afar in India internal organisation seems to be slipping. Despite all the revelations at Blackburn over the last 48 hours there has been no official statement from the club, This has infuriated the fans as communication seems to have come to a stand still, and the only news being drip fed to the fans is coming out through the Red Tops and Sky.

So where does this leave Rovers?

Venkys have done a great Job over the last 8 Months of making statements then weeks down the line changing their mind,

They told us Sam would remain the Boss then 6 weeks later they sacked him!

They said they knew who the new Manager would be and Steve Kean would be in charge until the new man is appointed?

They said Kean would be in charge for the remainder of the season as they did not want to rush the appointment.

They then appointed Kean on a 2 and half year deal and said he would not be sacked under any circumstances?

They promised no players especially our young players will be sold as we are no longer a selling club

They have promised a substantial budget for new players and also promised that any money that is made from sales will be made available for new signings.

Now is the time to stop the talk and for Venkys to show their hand, The administration which served Rovers so well over the years when balancing the books to stay afloat has now gone. John Williams was always open about Rovers capabilities, which although was hard to take always left us under no illusion that the club would make every penny available which was physically possible without taking the club into major debt.

Venkys promised investment and that they would turn Rovers into a top 5 side, Now they have the opportunity to show the fans they mean business. If reports are to be believed then Blackburn now have at their disposal the biggest Transfer budget in the history of the club, This budget was decided long before the season ended and with now the added income of Jones pending sale, This puts Rovers in a strong position to compete for players which would of only been pipe dreams over the last few years. Venky's have already since their arrival made moves for big names in Beckham and Ronaldinho and although they were not successful and the club was ridiculed for their pursuit it gave a little belief that Rovers would continue to try and entice big name players to the club.

Steve Kean's admission that he would like to sign last season's loans, Cruz, Diouf and J Jones has not gone down well. As apart from Jermaine Jones its widely agreed that the other players did not do enough to warrant a permanent deal at the club. Rovers have also approached Sebastian Larsson who is available on a Bosman free transfer although Sunderland now look like favourites to sign the player. These type of signings are not getting many pulses racing and both Steve Kean and Venkys need to raise the bar by a lot if they are going to get the fans back on side. Most fans want Steve Kean out, whilst a number of fans also want Venkys out, There is a worry that Kean's inexperience of signing players could see either Rovers miss out on targets or that Kean will waste the money on players who are not of the desired quality to move the club forward, this could see Rovers once again fighting for their lives to remain in the Premiership come May 2012.

Now is the time for everyone to stand together and get behind the team and the Management, I know they have not done enough to warrant such support, but they took over during a season and they did say judge them in 12 Months. Rome was not built in a day and this is a marathon not a sprint. Lets wait and see who Rovers sign and how much they spend, and if they come up trumps then the last 48 hours will be a remembered as not the day it all fell apart but the day Rovers got a platform to build on the future. We all hurt when players leave who we adore, but no player is bigger than any team and when they have gone new hero's are born. Blackburn Rovers has existed for 136 years and in that time we have seen them come and go.

Blackpool Manager Ian Holloway was asked last season how he remained so upbeat and he replied

 " I treasure everyday and love it, and each day you remain at a club as the Manager you are 1 day closer to the sack, One day the club will decide I'm no longer the Manager of Blackpool but that's life"

We must look forwards and not backwards,  what has been cannot be changed and with a full summer to rebuild its a good time to be a Rovers Fan

Jones exit nears as Rovers agree £15 Million pound deal with United

Phil Jones has today had his medical at Carrington ahead of a £15 Million pound move to Manchester United. Its been all systems go over the last 48 hours as Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea, Manchester United went head to head to capture the highly rated England under 21 International. The player held talks with Wenger last night but as soon as it was evident that Ferguson wanted the player, Then Jones his mind was made up to stay in the North West.

This news will come as a blow to the majority of Rovers fans who have seen their club fall to pieces in the 6 months with so much uncertainty surrounding the new owners. However this was an episode which was always going to end in tears as it became public Knowledge that clause had been put in the young centre backs contract back in January. There will be many days of people trying to lay the blame at individuals doors, but the club had very little power, but to insert the clause or risk losing the player for much less than the reported agreed figure.

Steve Kean is currently on route to India to discuss Blackburn's own transfer activity and moves for players are expected to be imminent. Blackburn had already for casted their transfer budget long before the season ended and this was not dependant on sales. However the club have also indicated that should money be generated from sales that this would be added to any budget which has already been set aside.

There have been many conflicting reports over what has been made available to the Manager to spend, and many individuals are speculating, Reports of £5 Million plus bringing forward £5 Million forward from the January window is wide of the mark. A strong source who has always been 100% reliable has suggested to me that this figure is double that, and no figure's have been banded into the press officially from the club due to effect it would have on clubs bumping prices up. This untimely departure of Jones will also be a concern for Rovers as club's will automatically be holding Blackburn to ransom knowing that money is now available.

The news of Jones departure has already had agents trying to punt their clients to Blackburn as possible replacements, although Rovers will not be panic buying.

So where do we go from here?

When all the dust settles Rovers will find themselves minus one player, But on the other hand they will also find themselves with a much bigger than anticipated transfer budget, which will also open another window when it comes to paying wages. Rovers are in still in the market for a marquee player and despite Jones departure he is not a household name beyond these shores.
His departure will not have a negative effect on targets and provided those targets are in place before the start of pre-season it should not have a negative effect on the rest of the squad. Chris Samba has been heavily linked with a move away this summer, but that has cooled due to Rovers asking price and not many potential suitors.

Steve Kean has assured everyone that we will  buy quality to prevent a repeat of last season when Rovers survived relegation on the final day of the season, and its important that as fans we allow him the opportunity to put his words into action. Its too easy to be critical today, and we must all look at the bigger picture. Blackburn now find themselves with the biggest transfer budget they have ever had in the history of the club, and its a time to be optimistic and excited that we can finally attract the right profile of players to Ewood Park

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

£16 Million is the figure

After weeks of speculation surrounding club Captain Chris Samba's future it appears that has now cooled a little and all the talk is where Phil Jones is going to go.
News has come out today that the player has a £16 million pound release clause in the contract he signed in January, Which has come as a shock to many Rovers fans.
More intriguing in my opinion is "Who has let the cat out of the bag?"

Agents always play tricks at this time of the year to try and engineer moves for their clients, whilst it appears unlikely that the information has come directly from the club due to the obvious backlash it would cause from the fans towards the owners as their relationship is already a fragile one.

Other sources are claiming that this revelation has come via  individuals close to the player which if this is the case would suggest that the player would like to move on and try his hand at a bigger club.

It's disappointing to think one of our own who has had lots of development and investment put into him since his arrival at the club as a young boy would be so quick to jump ship, especially as it has been quoted on many occasions that he is a fan of Blackburn.

Phil Jones has made a big impact since coming on the scene at Blackburn and has had many rave reviews for some of his performances, However it remains to be seen if any club is willing to match the £16 Million which will trigger the release clause.

Jones has remained tight lipped during the speculation over his future and the silence only add's to the speculation that he has played his last game in a Rovers shirt. If the player has decided he wants to leave then it would be best for all concerned if he goes now, So that any money we receive for the deal can be reinvested into the squad at an early stage of this transfer window.

Liverpool are the 4/5 Favourites to land the player which Arsenal next best in the market at 12-1, The bookies very rarely get these things wrong and it appears its only a matter if time before the youngster makes the move. The question is will it be a straight cash deal or will Rovers see this an opportunity to try and entice players from Liverpool as part of any deal? David Ngog has been linked with Rovers on numerous occasions over the last 12 months, Whilst Joe Cole has also been told he can leave Liverpool, but his injury problems are well highlighted. Steve Kean has made no secret he is in the market for a Striker and a Midfield player and Joe Cole's versatility may just fit the bill. A player comfortable down either wing or playing in an advanced midfield role is certainly something which will be of great interest to Rovers. The national press believe Cole could be available for as little as £3 Million and with Ngog thrown into the equation it may be that those 2 and £8 Million would trigger a positive response from Rovers to do Business. By taking the player plus cash option, It also opens up Rovers to have extra things tagged into the transfer deal such as, Sell on Clauses, Appearance for both club and Country Clauses and off course Trophy clauses should Liverpool go on to win any whilst Jones is their player.

Phil Jone's still lives at home and a move out of the Area seems very unlikely, as living alone at such a tender age for the first time may be too much especially with the pressure of having a big transfer tag on his head.

Is this good Business for Rovers? Only time will tell, If the money is reinvested into the playing staff with good quality then this could propel us up the table by quite a few places. Buying a striker has to be our priority, Defenders can be replaced but goalscorers win you matches and at present Rovers do not have a centre forward capable of getting in double figures for a season.

Finally I would like to say I don't think the club can be faulted for their efforts to try and keep the player, By getting the player to sign a new deal in January it gave Rovers a bigger bargaining tool for the summer as it was quite clear at this time that interest in the player would be renewed by clubs who had previously placed bids in the region of £8 Million pound. The player and players agent would of insisted on a release clause and the club had to play ball to ensure we didn't lose the player for well below his market value.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Can Rovers afford to let Jones Go?

Its going to be an interesting summer with Rovers players being linked with moves elsewhere. The press love a good story and at this time of the season they link just about anyone with any club hoping that a few weeks down the line that they can say "We brought it to you first a few months back".

Samba and Jones are both being linked with big money moves as the so called bigger clubs look to rebuild for the new season. However its Phil Jones who I wish to write about.

Its around 18 months ago that the talented young defender made the breakthrough into the first team when former Manager Sam Allardyce took it upon himself to take a closer look at the Academy and the Reserves, Rovers had a few injury problems at the time and Big Sam was looking at what defenders we had at the club who could perhaps act as cover for the first team. The young boy from Leyland was the man Sam selected which at the time came as a surprise to so many, as other players from the younger ranks had shown far more ability and looked much closer to potential first team action at either Rovers or indeed on loan at a lower division club. Jones was a unknown quantity and being only 17 at the time many thought it was just Sam giving a young player an early opportunity to be part of a first team match day. I think its fair to say no-one would of expected the impact Jones would have on the First team and such a tender age, but due to circumstances he was thrust into first team action immediately and acquitted himself very well against the likes of Drogba. His early performances had tongues wagging around the Premiership especially as his early appearances where in front of the Sky Camera's. Already despite a handful of appearances teams like Arsenal where being linked with a big money move for the youngster. England recognition was soon forthcoming as Jones was named in the under 21 squad, and his value was inflating daily in the National press.

Last season Jones started life in centre midfield as Big Sam wanted to add another string to his bow and he did not look out of place, at just 18 he was playing regular Premiership football and the scouts continued to flock to Ewood. Following Sam's sacking Jones suffered a nasty injury which looked to have ended his season. This coincided with Rovers terrible form as the club edged closer to the relegation zone. Following Jone's earlier than anticipated return Rovers form improved remarkably and our Prem status was secured for another year.

Now all the talk is where will Jones be come August? Venky's have already stated the club no longer needs to sell players and that includes Jones. Rumours are that Steve Kean will have between £5 and £10 Million to spend this summer, it is also rumoured that any funds the club can generate from sales will also be given to Kean to improve the squad. Now here Lie's the question, with £10 million can Rovers realistically expect to be pushing for Europe in the 2011-2012 season? I would confidently say that is unlikely

However if Jones was to be sold and we had a war chest of £30 million then I would say that it would be a good possibility. My reasoning behind this is we could by 4 top players with £30 million whilst with just the £10 million on offer at present we may just sign last seasons loans. Jones is a good player, but is he just that? Rovers squad is currently lacking any real quality and maybe its more we want to believe he is the great hope, than him actually being so. As already mentioned other players were ahead of him at Rovers Academy but it was Jones who was given the chance. If Gunning had been given the same chance and had not been loaned out and ended the season at Motherwell maybe we would be having the same speculation about him today. As an individual who has seen both play at youth level, Gunning always stood out.

£20 Million good business or not? I would see this as great business for Rovers, Jones undoubtedly has potential but would you part with £20 million for potential when you could perhaps buy the finished product for much less elsewhere. Over the years our modern game has seen so many players being dubbed "The next Gazza" or "Next Shearer" but so many have fallen off the map after being in the spotlight for a couple of years. Player like Francis Jeffers, who went to Arsenal for Big Money, scored for England on his debut then suddenly fell back to Earth with a bang, and now at the age of 30 has no club after once again being released.

Jones has been a big plus for Rovers this year after so many off the squad have failed miserably to produce the goods, Its been a season where our young players have come to the fore and have put many seasoned Pro's to shame with their application.

The thing with young players is they have the hunger to succeed, but its down to the Management to decide if they are ready for the first team or surplus to requirements.

I today asked England under 21 Goalkeeper Frank Fielding -Who in your time at the academy at Rovers was regarded our best player or future prospect?

His answer - Joe garner was class when we were in the youth team together.

Joe Garner was a player Mark Hughes agreed to let go as competition for places at the time in the striking department was too great for the youngster to get a look in. After initially going to CarliseCarlise made the move permanent in the summer of 2007 for £140,000 which was then a club record fee for Carlise. The following season after scoring 14 goals for the Cumbrian side Garner joined Nottingham Forest for just over £1 million pounds, Its not quite worked out for Joe so far at Forest and he ended the current season out on loan at Scunthorpe where he hit 6 goals in 14 appearances

Football is about opinions and being in the right place at the right time for Garner it didn't happen for him at Rovers, Perhaps other youngsters like Gunning will also find themselves looking at pastures new to make a first team breakthrough. Jones has had the opportunity and taken it with both hands the question is "Is he really worth £20 million",