Former Spain full-back Michel Salgado has revealed the exact reasons behind his acrimonious exit from Blackburn Rovers, while launching a withering attack on the club’s controversial owners.
Much has changed at Ewood Park since Salgado’s release in January 2012, with the club swapping mid-table security in the Premier League for a relegation dog fight in the Championship.
The onset of Blackburn’s on-field woes can be traced back to the day the club were taken over by Indian poultry company Venky’s in November 2010.
The promise of a bright and successful future for the club, has proved anything but; suffering relegation at the end of their first full season in charge whilst overseeing a succession of managerial changes.
Four bosses have come and gone in that period including three this season alone. The constant upheaval has affected results on the pitch too, with Blackburn currently occupying a place in the bottom three of England’s second-tier with just six games remaining.
It is a situation that Salgado admits “saddens” him and he would like nothing more than to see his former club return to the Premier League. However that, he believes, will remain nothing more than a dream with the current owners at the helm.
“The only thing I have to say about it (Blackburn’s situation) is that it is outrageous,” Salgado told reporters at his unveiling as the Director of Football for Dubai Sports City.
“I speak to a lot of fans and from my point of view it’s very sad to see this amazing, historic club in this situation; facing a relegation battle in the Championship, when just two years ago they finished tenth in the Premier League with a promising group of players.
“I hope something happens where there are huge changes and Blackburn return to the Premier League. But the problem will not be fixed in a short time because so many changes have to be made.
“Blackburn’s situation really saddens me,” the 37-year-old added. “I loved my time at Blackburn, apart from the last six months, which had nothing to do with me or football.”
The final six months Salgado refers to are when he was omitted from the squad after just 13 games of the season having started nine of those. Due to a clause in his contract, Salgado would have been eligible for an extension had he featured a further nine times that season, but in an attempt to cut costs, the Blackburn owners decided he no longer had a part to play.
It was a far cry from the promises of glory and European football Venky’s had pledged to deliver upon first receiving the keys to Ewood Park.
“To be honest, when they first arrived at Blackburn it was really exciting times,” recalls Salgado, who joined Rovers in 2009 after a decade with Real Madrid.
“All they spoke about was developing something really good for the future of the club. But everything changed in the space of two months; there were so many players in and out, the manager (Sam Allardyce) was replaced (by Steve Kean) and so many strange things began to happen at the club.”
Shedding light on his own demise at Blackburn, Salgado explained: “I remember my situation, along with three of four other guys; it was the game before Swansea in December.
“Suddenly on the Thursday before the game I got a call from the club saying they wanted to talk to me. I was playing all the games and was a key part of the club so from that day I couldn’t find an explanation as to why I was removed from the team.
“The squad was then almost totally dissembled and then you know the rest; Blackburn were relegated and everything is getting worse.”
He added: “I cannot understand why it has happened to a club like this when everything was running really well; the facilities, the fans, the history, the stadium – they have everything.”
Focus on job at hand
Venky’s came under renewed criticism on Tuesday when they summoned caretaker manager Gary Bowyer to India for talks, resulting in him missing two days of training in a critical stage of the season.
And the episode has enraged Salgado, who believes it is just the latest bad decision made by the owners which have helped put the club in the perilous position they find themselves in.
“I’m not surprised because the things that are happening are totally outside of football,” Salgado said. “The decisions are made in a different way to any other club in the world in terms of football.
“When you are playing for your life, like they are now in this relegation fight, they need to stick together, train more than ever, and prepare better than ever for the games. But instead of that, the manager is in Pune instead of being on the training ground.
“The decision makers should be heading over to England to talk to the manager so as not to disrupt the match preparations. It’s crazy and outrageous everything that has happened.”
Al Wahda coach Branko Ivankovic has insisted defender Hamdan Al Kamali was in Dubai on Friday for treatment and not transfer talks with Al Ahli.
However, the Croatian coach said he would not be surprised if the Red Knights, or other Pro League rivals, were interested in signing the UAE centre-back.
Abu Dhabi Sports reported on Friday that Ahli had contacted Al Kamali about the possibility of moving to the Rashed Stadium for the start of the next season.
Ivankovic would be loath to lose the 23-year-old but admitted he was in the dark over his movements in Dubai.
Al Kamali, who spent the second half of last season on loan at French giants Lyon where he did not feature, is currently out of action with a knee injury and will not return to first-team duty for at least another week.
“I don’t know, I know he’s in Dubai to try and solve his injury problems at a medical clinic. I don’t know if he’s having negotiations with any club, with Al Ahli,” Ivankovic said after Wahda’s 1-1 draw with Al Wasl at the Al Nahyan Stadium.
“Of course it is normal, he is an excellent player, a national team player. So clubs want him, not only Al Ahli, but Al Ain, Jazira. Because he is an excellent player and everybody wants to have excellent players in their team.”
Earlier Ahli CEO Ahmad Khalifa Hammad refused to confirm or deny the club’s reported interest in Al Kamali, telling Koora.com to “ask Abu Dhabi TV”.
Al Wahda failed to make ground on the top three in the UAE Pro League on Friday night as they were held to 1-1 draw at home by Al Wasl.
Fahad Hadeed gave the visitors a 12th-minute lead when he swooped to head Emiliano Alfaro’s cross past Adel Mohamed.
The hosts had started brightly and were level before half-time as Marcelinho poked home from Mahmoud Khamis’ centre.
Both teams had chances to win it – with Saeed Al Kathiri squandering an open goal – but neither could find the illusive third goal as Wahda were held at home for the first time in the Pro League this season.
Wasl had enjoyed a thrilling 3-2 victory in the capital at Al Jazira last Friday but began on the back foot here as Saeed Al Kathiri and Marcelinho both threatened for Wahda in the opening 10 minutes.
UAE striker Al Kathiri went closest as he was denied by a fine save from Ahmed Mahmoud having been played in by his Brazilian striker partner.
The visitors had not been in the game as an attacking force up until that point but were soon in the lead as Alfaro found room for a cross which was headed home by Hadeed.
Al Kathiri then struck the woodwork with a cross intended for Marcelinho before Ismail Matar forced Mahmoud into another smart stop. But as half-time approached it was Wasl that looked more likely to get the game’s second goal.
Achille Emana was booked for hurdling Wahda keeper Adel Mohamed in his attempt to win a penalty before his smart through ball released Jussie into the hosts’ penalty area only for the Brazilian to fire straight at Mohamed.
And having almost been two goals to the good, Wasl were undone as Marcelinho got between Saoud Saeed and Yaser Salem to steer Mahmoud Khamis’ cross into the net.
Emana had a great chance to restore Wasl’s lead early in the second half but sliced wide of the near post from six yards. But after Marcelinho had looped a header onto the roof of the goal Al Kathiri had two golden opportunities to get a potentially decisive third goal.
First the UAE striker volleyed Mohamed Al Shehhi’s deep cross back out of the area, before he produced one of the misses of the season.
Substitute Papa Waigo cushioned a cross into the path of Matar who volleyed back across goal, leaving Mahmoud stranded, only to see Al Kathiri divert the ball wide of the far post.
The game was now becoming stretched and Alfaro saw a goalbound effort deflected behind by a desperate block from Dino Djulbic before Srdan Andric strode forward and smacked a stinging drive against the angle of post and bar.
Neither side could find the winner though and Wahda were forced to settle for their first home league draw of the season when Waigo volleyed wide in injury time.
Misfiring Al Kathiri
The 25-year-old started the season in the goals, and in the national team. But he has since seen his form disappear and has not found the net for club or country in his last 14 appearances. Here he squandered several presentable opportunities – not least an open goal – that would have given his side a precious three points in their fight for AFC Champions League football next year.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Srdan Andric (Al Wahda)
The Croatian was a doubt before kick-off but turned in a performance full of drive that almost led his side to the win. His showing was epitomised by a thunderous drive that cannoned against the angle of post and bar.
Wasl continue to improve under Eid Baroot but for Wahda they will know they must be more clinical in front of goal with important league and President’s Cup games to come.