Premier League or bust: Henning Berg given Blackburn Rovers ultimatum
New Rovers manager welcomed to the post with a warning from clubs' global adviser that the minimum requirement this season is a return to top flight
Friday 02 November 2012
Blackburn Rovers' global adviser, Shebby Singh, has already heaped pressure on new manager Henning Berg by stating the minimum requirement this season is promotion to the Premier League.
Berg signed a three-year contract with the club and was unveiled at Ewood Park yesterday, fully aware of expectancy levels. Rovers sit fifth in the Championship, two points beneath the automatic promotion spots, and anything less than bridging that gap will not do for Singh.
"Promotion is the minimum and the maximum, we have emphasised that time and again," Singh said.
"But the most important thing is that Henning welcomes the pressure, he welcomes the challenge. He didn't sit in front of us and say 'I need three years to build a team'. He said 'I know what you want and I want to be the man to deliver that'."
Talks between the two parties earlier this week had to be frank and honest following Berg's comments in June that "there are no real managers with credibility who would accept a job like that." It was a scathing attack on the owners, Venky's, but the discussions about the vacancy sold the club to Berg, who had been out of the game for a year after being sacked by Norwegian side Lillestrom. He pointed towards the investment in the team – signing the likes of Jordan Rhodes from Huddersfield for £8m – as a significant reason to be optimistic about the direction the club is heading.
"The comments were made by me looking in from the outside," Berg said. "Now I have spoken to the people inside the club, I know what their ambitions are. They are taking steps now and I've seen their intent."
Singh was adamant throughout the five-week search for Steve Kean's successor that he wanted to install a younger manager, and one who preferably had previous links with Rovers. Approaches for Fulham's Billy McKinlay and Tottenham's Tim Sherwood were rejected, but Singh dismissed accusations that the ultimate choice was simply manufactured to appease an increasingly disenchanted and dwindling home support.
"The fact he has been successful here [as a player] obviously helps but no way is this anything but a football decision," he said. Berg's achievements – winning the League title in 1995 and the League Cup in 2002 during two separate spells – are all the more striking given Blackburn's failure to win any major silverware without him since 1928. Singh labelled the manager's arrival as the 'third coming' and Berg is delighted to be back.
"For myself I couldn't be back at a better place," he said. The manager must also be pleased that he doesn't have to endure the monthly 18-hour round trip to India to brief the owners, and has been given control over transfers.
"I think we've got a really good chance of being promoted and I'm looking forward to it," the manager enthused. His first test is a trip to Crystal Palace – the team he made his debut against back in 1993.
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
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