He presided over a farcical decline between 2012 and 2013 but Shebby Singh admits that had he been allowed to interfere with Blackburn Rovers operations, the club would not have struggled in the manner that they did.
Venky’s appointed Singh as Rovers’ ‘global adviser’ and was given the task of lifting the club from the Championship back into the Premier League in the midst of their relegation.
By the end of Singh’s sole Championship campaign Rovers had gone through three managers, finished 17th and only avoided relegation on the penultimate Saturday.
He initially started off his role by mounting pressure on then manager Steve Kean, insisting that the Scot’s position as manager was ‘under threat’ should the club start the season in poor fashion.
Seven games into the new season, Singh had got his wish and Kean departed. Asked by The Athletic over the allegation that Kean resigned because of his interference, Singh replied: “It’s a laughable notion. If interference had taken place, the club wouldn’t have been the shambles it happened to be on the pitch.”
Singh was then tasked with the responsibility of sourcing Kean’s replacement. The global adviser had pinned Rovers’ Premier League title-winning captain Tim Sherwood as his priority target but the club were unable to agree a compensation package to relieve him of his Tottenham duties.
Instead Singh appointed former Rovers defender Henning Berg. He was sacked after just 57 days and the Swede won a lucrative court case for unfair dismissal. The court heard during the process that Singh was unable to get into Britain because of visa problems. In that time, Rovers had appointed Michael Appleton and then sacked him only 67 days later, eclipsing Berg’s tenure by a week-and-a-half.
Fortunately Gary Bowyer arrived to salvage the remains of a deteriorating ship. Asked why he felt the appointments of Berg and Appleton never worked out, Singh felt Berg made the mistake of continuing with Kean’s backroom staff.
“In regards to Henning Berg, I thought he should have brought his own coaching team to implement his playing style and philosophy, but he proceeded with the existing staff left behind during Steve Kean’s tenure,” Singh says. “Eventually the football and results went south, and I was asked to relieve him of his duties.
“For Michael Appleton, it might surprise you but during my time at Blackburn Rovers, I never met the man.”
In his final three months, Singh’s only presence at the club was his one-week flying visit to sack Appleton. In the end, his time at the club and his ‘pensioner’ comments were washed down the drain like the rest of Venky’s early incompetence.