Michael Appleton parts company with Blackburn Rovers - after just 67 days

Manager lasts just 15 games at Ewood Park

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The Independent Football

Michael Appleton has been sacked as manager of Blackburn Rovers, just 67 days after replacing Henning Berg.

The decision to part company with the manager follows a 1-1 draw with Burnley at the weekend and last week's exit from the FA Cup in a quarter-final replay with Millwall.

A statement on the club's website read: "Blackburn Rovers FC can confirm that Michael Appleton has been relieved of his duties as manager along with assistant manager Ashley Westwood, first team coach Darren Moore and head of senior recruitment Luke Dowling."

Appleton took charge of just 15 games - winning four, drawing five and losing six. He leaves the club after a run of eight games without a win and 18th in the Championship, just four points above the relegation zone.

Today's decision follows criticism of Appleton over his decision to omit Danny Murphy from the squad for Blackburn's FA Cup exit to Millwall. The loss meant a fine run, which had included a victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, was ended one game away from reaching Wembley.

Murphy, who joined from Fulham last summer, was not included despite an injury crisis at Ewood Park - and some point to the decision to leave the 35-year-old out as a reason for the exit.

Defending his decision, Appleton said: "We need to move forward as a football club and we need to look forward.

"You either leave players in your team or out of your team on performance and, from a performance point of view, I picked the team which I thought would try and enable us to get into the next round."

Blackburn fell short against Millwall before a sparse crowd of 8,635 - the lowest FA Cup quarter-final attendance in recent memory and 100 fewer than the number at Chesterfield's last-eight clash against Wrexham in 1997.

It is Appleton's second short stint in a row. He left Blackpool after just 65 days in charge to move to Ewood Park.

It also represents a second short managerial stint at Blackburn. Appleton's predecessor Berg was in charge for 57 days.

Rovers will now be looking for their fourth manager of the season after Steve Kean was sacked early on in the campaign. Today's decision will also lead to questions about the management of the club, which is owned by Indian poultry giants Venky's.

Since taking over the Lancashire side, they have sacked four managers and overseen relegation from the Premier League.

Wayne Wild, the co-chairman of supporters group the Rovers Trust, said in a statement: "News of Michael Appleton's sacking ought to come as a surprise, but sadly it does not.

"This is just the latest in a long line of incomprehensible and ill-thought out decisions that go back to the very start of the Venky's ownership of Blackburn.

"It is obvious to any experienced fan or football professional that to keep changing managers - we are now looking for our sixth this season - will only lead to yet more instability and uncertainty. It is also a costly exercise to keep paying off staff.

"The owners have to face up to the fact they are entirely responsible for the situation we find ourselves in with a second successive relegation a distinct possibility."

Wild demanded that Venky's start to communicate with fans and other interested parties, and that they ensure the next man in permanent charge has managerial pedigree.

"We've been calling for an experienced manager to be given the job, but they've made three appointments, all of inexperienced managers, and they just aren't learning from the mistakes they're making," Wild told Press Association Sport.

"All our recent success has been with having an experienced, established manager. All our recent failings have been with having an inexperienced manager, and I include Paul Ince and Brian Kidd in that when the club was under the Walker Trust stewardship.

"Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and Mark Hughes have all been successful in their careers, so history tells you what the right decision is."

Wild, a director of the WEC Group, an engineering and fabrication company which is the main sponsor of the Darwen End stand at Ewood Park, has written to Venky's on numerous occasions seeking to set up meetings with the Rovers Trust in an attempt to get fan representation on the club's board.

"Correspondence from Venky's has always been non-existent," said Wild.

"We've tried to correspond with Venky's many times but we've never had a direct reply.

"Again, today, we've had no information from the club. No one knows why (Appleton) has been sacked, what the reasons are or what the plan going forward is.

"It's very difficult to get anything out of the club regarding what's happening next.

"There has been a gulf developing between the owners and supporters for some time now and it's getting worse."