Michael Appleton: Blackburn Rovers sack manager

 

Championship strugglers Blackburn have sacked boss Michael Appleton after 15 games and 67 days at Ewood Park.

He is the third manager to leave the club this season following the departures of Steve Kean in September and Henning Berg in December.

Appleton, who left Blackpool for the Rovers' job in January, is replaced by reserve-team coach Gary Bowyer for the remainder of the season.

"It's a comedy club at the moment and Blackburn are the butt of the jokes."

"I am disappointed to be leaving Blackburn Rovers," said Appleton.

The 37-year-old, who began the season at Portsmouth before his short-lived stints at Blackpool and Blackburn, added: "I would like to thank the players, and wish them all the best for the rest of the season.

"I would also like to say thanks to the fans who have made me feel so welcome over the past few months."

Appleton won four of his first seven games in charge of Rovers, but Blackburn have failed to win since knocking Arsenal out of the FA Cup and are 18th in the table, just four points above the relegation zone.

A brief statement on the club website said:  "Blackburn Rovers FC can confirm that Michael Appleton has been relieved of his duties as manager along with assistant manager Ashley Westwood, first-team coach Darren Moore and head of senior recruitment Luke Dowling."

Blackburn managers in 2012-13

P W D L

* Black & Bowyer were in caretaker charge

Steve Kean

8

4

2

2

Eric Black

6

2

3

1

Henning Berg

10

1

3

6

Gary Bowyer

4

3

1

0

Michael Appleton

15

4

5

6

Appleton, who started the 2012-13 season in charge of troubled League One outfit Pompey, moved to Blackpool in November but was manager at Bloomfield Road for just over two months before switching to the Seasiders' Lancashire rivals.

Despite losing his first game at home to Charlton, his reign at Ewood Park began positively, the highlight being a 1-0 win against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium that meant Blackburn progressed to the last eight of the FA Cup.

But that result was followed by a run of eight games without a win and Rovers exited the FA Cup tamely by losing a quarter-final replay to fellow Championship side Millwall.

His last match in charge was a 1-1 draw with Burnley on Sunday, although Blackburn needed a stoppage-time equaliser from David Dunn to avoid a first home defeat by the Clarets in 34 years.

In a statement released via his PR company, Appleton said: "I am disappointed to be leaving Blackburn Rovers. I would like to thank the players, and wish them all the best for the rest of the season. I would also like to say thanks to the fans who have made me feel so welcome over the past few months."

Blackburn's return to the second tier of English football after 11 seasons in the Premier League has been dominated by off-the-field issues, not least the uncertainty surrounding the managerial position.

Championship relegation battle

Only Wolves have a worse record than Blackburn in the the last 10 Championship games:

  • 17. Blackpool 46pts (12pts in last 10)
  • 18. Blackburn 46 (10)
  • 19. Ipswich 46 (14)
  • 20. Barnsley 44 (20)
  • 21. Sheff Wed 43 (15)
  • 22. Peterborough 42 (16)
  • 23. Wolves 42 (9)
  • 24. Bristol City 39 (14)

Kean was "forced to resign" in September, with Blackburn in the Championship's top six, following months of protests from a section of Blackburn supporters against the Scot and owners Venky's.

Norwegian Berg, a former Rovers defender who won the Premier League title with the club in 1995, was named as Kean's successor a month later but won only one of his first 10 games as manager and was dismissed after just 57 days.

Blackburn were resurgent under Bowyer, winning three and drawing one of their four matches in all competitions under their reserve-team coach, before Appleton's appointment in January.

The ex-Manchester United, Preston and West Bromwich Albion midfielder was scheduled to face former club Blackpool at Ewood Park on 29 March.

Rovers have nine games remaining to preserve their Championship status and avoid a second consecutive relegation.

Archive: Appleton on Blackburn owners

Blackburn's record goalscorer Simon Garner, who played for the club between 1978 and 1992 and scored 194 times, told BBC Radio 5 live: "I can't believe it. There were no murmurings, heard nothing that this was going to happen. After the last couple of results, Millwall and then Burnley, perhaps they were the final nail in the coffin.

"I don't know if anyone would want the job. Three managers in a season - it looks like you lose a few games and you're sacked. Venky's don't seem to know how to handle a manager and the fans."

Last week, Dr Who actor and Blackburn fan Matt Smith said: "It's an absolute farce, a joke, it's being run by complete numpties. Great players, great team, great club and those berks have ruined it.

"They talk about getting rid of [former manager Sam] Allardyce because of the long ball - what the hell was that against Millwall?

"It was a woeful performance. It's the first time I've been embarrassed at the way the team played."