Ince may be next to go as Rovers stare into the abyss

Blackburn Rovers are desperate for Paul Ince to succeed but his future is in serious doubt amid a sense of shock inside the club at the fall towards the foot of the Premier League table and an acute awareness that relegation might condemn them to a long period outside the top flight.

Though the club want to have patience and build on what they call the "Sparky" model – developing a young manager as they did with Ince's predecessor Mark Hughes – there is some soul-searching about whether they have recruited an individual who can actually keep them up. The view from inside the club is that, with the smallest fan base in the league and lacking a Jack Walker figure, they would struggle to regain top-flight status. "Nightmare," was one word used by an Ewood Park insider yesterday about the current position.

It is difficult to see Rovers persisting with Ince (right) if he cannot rectify the club's position in the relatively straightforward games which follow Liverpool's visit to Ewood tomorrow. The visit to Wigan, Stoke's arrival and the trip to Sunderland appear to be make-or-break, with Sam Allardyce seemingly the safety option if Sunderland do not hire him first.

The anxiety Rovers are feeling stems from not knowing what inner resources Ince actually has to get them out of their current predicament – second bottom, in the table two points behind the Sunderland side which Roy Keane left yesterday. There is an awareness that Ince faced pressure at Macclesfield Town, 11 points adrift in League Two when he arrived, but a fight for Premier League survival carries higher stakes.

The sense of nervousness explained a general reluctance yesterday to criticise fans for the abuse they handed out to Ince during the dire display which saw Rovers beaten 5-3 at Old Trafford in Wednesday’s Carling Cup semi-final. There were chants for the former manager Graeme Souness and the perennial caretaker manager Tony Parkes as the night wore on.

Ince defended himself last night, saying: “No one can question the spirit of the players or say they don’t want to play for the manager because they do. You can be the best manager in the world, you cannot do anything if players are making individual mistakes.”

Though the spirit within the Rovers dressing room is indeed said to be good, there is an acceptance from within the club that it will be difficult to hold on to Roque Santa Cruz, one of their prime assets, should the situation deteriorate. Rovers are adamant that Santa Cruz has reiterated his commitment to Rovers, despite widely reported suggestions, backed up by a Paraguayan radio interview, that he is intent on following Hughes to Manchester City.

Rovers, one of the best-run clubs in the top flight, have rarely gone in for sacking managers. Brian Kidd, nine years ago, was the last to depart that way after his unhappy tenure following his departure from Manchester United. But the fluid nature of the Premier League – Rovers were seventh only two months ago – does not appear to have engendered any sense of optimism. The current run of one win in nine is unheard of at Rovers in recent years and it has to be said that Ince is working with the same group of players, the departures of David Bentley and Brad Friedel aside.

Tomorrow’s visitors have lost once in 12 years at Ewood Park and Steven Gerrard’s comments yesterday would have offered little succour to Ince. “In my 10 years in the first team, this is the first time that we have been where we are at this stage of the season with this opportunity,” Gerrard said, reflecting on consecutive 0-0 draws in the league. “We have got to get better, be more consistent and start killing teams off when we get the chance.”

News
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
i100Most young people can't
Extras
indybest
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home