Blackburn Rovers' owners have clarified the position on the club's new manager, saying yesterday that they will seek a replacement with Premier League experience and that they are prepared for the process to take "at least three months".
Anuradha Desai, the chairperson of Venky's, the company that now owns Blackburn, was speaking two days after the controversial dismissal of Sam Allardyce, which she justified on the basis that Allardyce "didn't fit in" with their "long-term vision". The new owners of Blackburn, who bought the club from the Jack Walker Trust in November, had given chairman John Williams a pledge that the manager would not be changed in the immediate future. But on Monday Allardyce was sacked, with Williams himself having to deliver the news.
There will be no rush, however, to appoint a new manager, according to Desai, who even admitted that it may be March before a replacement is found. "We are looking for a manager in the future but that is going to take time," she said. "We don't want to make a hurried decision. We want to understand, meet a lot of people, take opinions and study the scenario. So that's going to take at least three months or maybe two and a half months."
This patient course fits in with Venky's long-term plans, an approach that they did not see as being compatible with Allardyce.
"We have a long-term vision," Desai explained. "We want to take the club up to higher heights in terms of position, in terms of overall betterment of the club, in terms of development of younger players – the future. In that, Sam definitely didn't fit in.
"We don't want to be, all the time, in danger of being relegated – three points away, five points away. I don't think this team deserves that. This team has a lot of potential and we can see that."
Until a replacement is found, Blackburn will be managed by Steve Kean, formerly first-team coach at Ewood Park under Allardyce. Kean's first two games in charge will be against West Ham United and Stoke City at home. Desai praised the abilities of Kean, recruited by Allardyce from Coventry City where he had been assistant to Chris Coleman.
Kean had also worked for Coleman at Fulham and Real Sociedad. Desai was quick to compliment the 43-year-old Scot. "I can assure you he is the guy who is hands-on, he knows the strengths and the weaknesses of the players. He has been working hard with the players and I am pretty sure he will do an excellent job."
Kean is currently the bookmakers' favourite to replace Allardyce in the long-term, ahead of Martin O'Neill, Dave Jones and Martin Jol, although he does not seem to fulfil Desai's main criterion to be the next coach, having never played or managed in the Premier League.
"We are looking out for a senior manager, people with experience in the UK. Basically, we are looking at somebody who has played in the Premier League or managed teams in the League," Desai said.
This approach has precluded the appointment of Diego Maradona, about whom there had been speculation in recent days. Maradona has been out of work since leaving the Argentina national side following their quarter-final World Cup exit earlier this year. But Desai denied that he would replace Allardyce. "This is something that, because we have offices everywhere, somebody spoke about but it is not true. There is no connection," she said.
"This is something from before we got into the EPL [English Premier League] – he knows one of our friends, but nothing beyond that.
"He is not being considered, not now and for ever for the future. I can assure you there is nothing we are having to do with Maradona."