For once Vincent Tan did not play up to his image as Bond villain turned football club owner.
He did not sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the moment Cardiff’s relegation from the Premier League was confirmed but he did sit down with the manager he had staked everything on and informed him he had one season, no more and no less, to take Cardiff back to the land of milk, honey and enormous foreign-rights contracts.
The odds must be that Solskjaer will not be managing Cardiff when we gather for the start of the 2015-16 season. Even with parachute payments, the landing from the Premier League is never soft. Going straight back up is difficult.
Aside from a wonderfully worked goal from Kenwyne Jones, this was not a night for taking wild optimism back to south Wales. Blackburn recovered well, equalised with a fabulous goal of their own from Tom Cairney, and might have secured more than a point.
Solskjaer started with only one of his summer reinforcements, and the experiment of using Adam Le Fondre on the left was not a success.
One of the greatest errors Solskjaer was accused of making during his half-season in the Premier League was to swap Peter Odemwingie for Kenwyne Jones – a deal Stoke had much the better of.
Although last night he was withdrawn with 20 minutes remaining, when Blackburn were dominating, Jones did make his mark here. The Trinidadian had already forced Paul Robinson to tip his header over the bar when he launched himself at Peter Whittingham’s deep cross that Mark Hudson had flicked on. It was a wonderful move, brilliantly finished and produced the season’s first chant of “we are top of the league”.
Cardiff were to remain top of the league for 22 minutes, time in which Blackburn, who might have had a penalty inside 70 seconds when Hudson appeared to handle in the area, found their footing.
Before Cairney equalised, Blackburn had gone close through two former Cardiff players as Rudy Gestede’s wild attempt at an overhead kick missed completely but allowed Craig Conway to shoot over the bar.
Had Gestede connected, the Football League might have had a contender for goal of the season after game one. Moments later, Ewood witnessed a goal that ought to be recalled come May as Cairney, who had never quite made the grade at Hull, sent a shot swerving and dipping brilliantly past David Marshall.
It had been a wonderful goal but there would have been no ball for Cairney to aim at had it not been won by Jordan Rhodes. Only Alan Shearer, in very different circumstances, could match Rhodes’s record of 53 goals in his first two seasons at Ewood Park.
That Blackburn’s owners, Venky’s, have not only resisted the temptation to flog Rhodes to the first Premier League club that came along but re-signed him to a new contract shows there is some rebuilding going on at Blackburn. That this is their third season outside the top flight might suggest to Tan that rather more patience will be required at Cardiff.
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2); Robinson; Baptiste, Hanley, Kilgallon (Williamson, h-t), Lowe; Olsson, Evans, Cairney, Conway; Gestede, Rhodes. Substitutes not used: King, Dunn, Marshall, Varney, Taylor, Kean.
Cardiff City (4-4-2): Marshall; Da Silva, Connolly, Hudson, Brayford; Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Daehli (Adeyemi, 55), Le Fondre (Eikrem, 87); Maynard, Jones (Burgstaller, 70). Substitutes not used: John, Kim, Theophile-Catherine, Moore.
Referee: A Madley (West Yorkshire).Reuse content