Football: Walker sacks Kidd but blames players for Blackburn's plight

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The Independent Online
JACK WALKER, the millionaire owner of Blackburn Rovers, yesterday sacked Brian Kidd as manager and then, in a face-to-face meeting, told the players that they were responsible for the former Manchester United coach's exit.

Walker confronted the Rovers squad on whom he lavished pounds 30m during Kidd's 11-month tenure just minutes after parting company with his manager at the First Division club's training ground.

Before starting the search for a successor - Graeme Souness, Colin Hendry, Colin Todd, Joe Kinnear and Roy Evans are possible candidates - Walker lambasted the players for failing to lift Rovers into the promotion race after last season's humiliating relegation from the Premiership.

"It was a real slaughtering. Jack never minces his words and he let them know exactly what he thought of them," a source at the club, who are sixth from bottom with only three wins in 14 League games, said.

It was the second time in five days that former steel magnate Walker had been on the shop floor. He had pleaded with the players in the dressing- room to improve their performances before last Saturday's 2-0 home defeat by QPR.

Walker is well used to sacking managers, but he took no pleasure in dismissing Kidd, whose 37 League games in control brought eight victories, 18 draws and 11 defeats. "It is a sad day for me particularly and for everyone connected with the club," he said. "Brian is a first-class, honest man and we so wanted it to work out for him.

"But at the end of the day I have to put the club first. Results have not been good enough and it's as simple as that."

The 50-year-old Kidd, who took charge on 3 December last year after Roy Hodgson's departure, will be compensated for the remaining two years of his contract. The amount has still to be settled but could be close to pounds 1m. Kidd's assistant, Brian McClair, has also been sacked.

Tony Parkes now finds himself caretaker-manager for the fourth time in his long career as player and coach at Ewood Park.

"We are fortunate to have a man of such experience and integrity to call upon," Walker said. "It gives us time to fully consider the next appointment and we have to get it right."

Parkes' first game in charge is at home to Ipswich on Saturday, with Rovers hoping to make a permanent appointment quickly.

Kinnear is being linked with the vacancy after severing his ties with Wimbledon. However, health concerns following last season's heart attack may stand against him. Souness, the former Liverpool and Rangers managr, is also available, while Evans could be tempted to return to football a year after quitting Anfield.

The 33-year-old Hendry, who played 336 League games in two spells with Rovers, could return in a player-manager role, but Walker was not pleased when the Scotland captain opted to join Rangers for pounds 4m at the start of Blackburn's decline.

Eleven months ago, Kidd seemed to have it all. He was assistant manager at United, who were chasing the Treble. Along with Bryan Robson, he was viewed as the front runner to become the next United manager when Sir Alex Ferguson decided to retire, but Kidd was not prepared to wait and find out.

He wanted to step out from Ferguson's shadow and so he accepted Walker's lucrative offer to join a club who were Premiership champions in 1995. But, just like other respected No 2s, such as Colin Harvey and Stewart Houston, he has found the step up to full management too much.

When Rovers fell out of the top flight and, ironically, they were consigned to the First Division after a home draw with United, Kidd refused to join his players in thanking the fans for their support. "What have I done to go out there and have people clapping me? I've just gone out of the Premiership so what have I done?"

The most painful part for Kidd will be the knowledge that the stinging words of Sir Alex look to have been proved right. He never forgave Kidd for walking out and in his autobiography he described his erstwhile right- hand man as a worrier who could not evaluate players and talked behind his back.

There is no doubt that Kidd bought over-priced players such as Jason McAteer for pounds 4.25m from Liverpool, and then could not improve them with his coaching. He also sold good ones - Tim Sherwood to Tottenham and Chris Sutton to Chelsea. His own signings were often dropped and too many were never fit, while tactics were chopped and changed.

On his first day at Rovers, Kidd said he did not want to die without knowing whether he could be a successful manager. Yesterday, the answer appeared to be "no".

KIDD'S DEALINGS AT EWOOD PARK

IN

Ashley Ward from Barnsley pounds 4.5m

Jason McAteer Liverpool pounds 4.25m

Matt Jansen Crystal Palace pounds 4.25m

Egil Ostenstad Southampton pounds 4.25m

Lee Carsley Derby pounds 3.3m

Keith Gillespie Newcastle pounds 2.75m

Per Frandsen Bolton pounds 2.25m

Craig Short Everton pounds 2.1m

Alan Kelly Sheffield United pounds 800,000

Simon Grayson Aston Villa pounds 700,000

Steve Harkness Benfica pounds 500,000

Burton O'Brien St Mirren pounds 500,000

David McNamee St Mirren pounds 500,000

TOTAL pounds 30,650,000

OUT

Chris Sutton to Chelsea pounds 10m

Kevin Davies Southampton pounds 4.25m

Tim Sherwood Tottenham pounds 3.8m

Stephane Henchoz Liverpool pounds 3.5m

Sebastian Perez Marseilles pounds 3m

Tim Flowers Leicester pounds 1.1m

Gary Croft Ipswich pounds 800,000

Kevin Gallacher Newcastle pounds 700,000

TOTAL pounds 27,150,000

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