The cars outside the training ground seem to give some indication of the balance of power at Blackburn. There is El-Hadji Diouf’s chrome-plated Mercedes, worth £420,000, next to Michel Salgado’s Aston Martin while further along stands a modest BMW 3-series belonging to their manager, Steve Kean.
That would be misleading. Nobody outside the Ribble Valley may have heard of the 43-year-old before he was promoted from first-team coach to manager after the bizarre sacking of Sam Allardyce in December but he has not been slow to stamp his authority on Ewood Park.
There is a space reserved for Pascal Chimbonda but since the defender’s contract has been cancelled there is no car, although there are vehicles belonging to Roque Santa Cruz and Jermaine Jones, brought in on loan from Manchester City and Schalke. Diouf’s Mercedes may soon be heading for Chadwell Heath, West Ham’s training ground.
On Friday, the Lancashire Telegraph carried reports naming Juan Roman Riquelme as the marquee signing that the club’s Indian owners, Venky’s, have promised. Like David Beckham and Ronaldinho – other names that have flitted across the Telegraph’s back pages - Riquelme will probably not be looking for property in Clitheroe. However, Kean announced that Blackburn had hopes of attracting the 22-year-old Argentine striker, Mauro Formica, who grew up in Lionel Messi’s home city of Rosario and whom Kean compares to Gabriel Batistuta.
“I think it is only a matter of time before there is a major landmark signing,” he said. “Because they are paying the wages, the owners will give me a list of players that we could get but no player will come to this club unless they have something to offer.
“If Ronaldinho had decided he wanted to come, I would certainly have had to meet him and find out his thoughts about work, how often he wanted to train and make sure it was every day and with the rest of the squad. If there is going to be a marquee signing, it can’t be someone who’s just coming to graze.”
On Monday, he flew to Mumbai for the second time to meet the Rao brothers who now own the club and whom the Blackburn midfielder, Morten Gamst Pedersen, admitted were initially looked on with ‘suspicion’ when they took over.
“The first time I went to India I thought I was going to be asked what I was going to tell the players (about Allardyce’s sacking),” said Kean. “They gave me an idea of what was going to happen and that I would be in charge for the immediate future. The next time, I was offered a two-and-a-half year contract. There was no negotiation.”Reuse content