Blackburn Rovers' standards must be slipping if Henning Berg is about to be appointed as their new manager. Nothing against the Norwegian, who won a title at Ewood as well as at Old Trafford and would probably be a good choice, but where's the comedy value?
Consider the facts. Rovers have been talking to Ian Holloway, Harry Redknapp and Diego Maradona. There has been rumoured interest in Alan Shearer and possibly even Gareth Southgate. Does that strike you as a sensible shortlist? It seems much more likely that, like Newcastle a few years ago, the club just enjoys being in the headlines and realises that taking a risk on a slighty dotty manager that no one else is interested in employing – Holloway is an honourable exception, obviously, but he is arguably the dottiest of the lot – is a much easier way of staying high profile than getting your players to achieve something on the pitch.
Redknapp would have had to commute from Bournemouth to Blackburn. He is 65 years old and in a 30-year managerial career has never worked farther north than White Hart Lane. There is always a first time, of course, but this would have been quite an odd time for the man who six months ago thought he was going to end up with the England job. Not only is there the possibility of a vacancy appearing in the near future at Queens Park Rangers, it would have been bizarre in the extreme to have had Redknapp at Blackburn while Sam Allardyce is working at West Ham.
Even so, Redknapp would possibly have lasted about five minutes longer in East Lancashire than Maradona, who seems to have been brought into the picture on a whim of Shebby Singh's, leaving the rest of the Blackburn board flabbergasted. Rovers did float the idea of appointing Maradona in the immediate aftermath of Allardyce's sacking, but no business resulted and the notion was filed away with the other delusional stuff such as signing Ronaldinho and getting into the Champions League.
Maradona does not have a great deal of managerial experience, nor of managerial success, but he would have been a huge draw for Blackburn, quite possibly a bigger coup for the club than securing the services of Kenny Dalglish back in 1991. Dalglish did have a managerial track record, however, and first-hand experience of winning the title in England.
Maradona does not even speak English all that well (insert Dalglish joke here if desired), and all anyone knows about his colourful career in the game since he retired from playing is that he is famous for doing his own thing. Like Captain Rum in Blackadder, who insists opinion is divided on whether a crew is necessary to sail a ship - "All the other captains say it is, I say it isn't" - Maradona is buccaneering and unconventional.
He would have been the complete opposite of Steve Kean, who toed the corporate line to the point where it hurt, but that would not necessarily have been a bad thing. Unfortunately you can have only so many people doing their own thing, and with "global adviser" Singh apparently answerable to no one within the club, owners Venky's as mysterious and remote as ever, throwing a maverick like Maradona into the mix would have created a rolling news circus that would have pushed the two Manchester clubs off the back pages. Sigh.
Berg would appear to have more chance of winning games and getting Rovers promoted, although his managerial record is far from outstanding – he has been out of work since being sacked by Lillestrom last year – and even now the Blackburn hierarchy (ie senior figures at the club who are not Singh) prefer Holloway. The Blackpool manager would not be a bad fit at Ewood, since he is not just a shameless populist but something of a football genius, yet anyone reviewing the club's actions over the past month can see alarm lights flashing madly for any manager considering filling the vacancy, even Berg.
If there is such an obvious split between Singh and the board, and Singh has the backing of Venky's, how is the club going to come together behind a new manager? Anyone with any sense would run a mile from Blackburn at the moment, which is presumably why Rovers have been pursuing more outlandish candidates while Bolton and Burnley have been quietly filling their vacant managerial positions with promising young managers.
Berg has still to prove himself a promising manager, but at least he is young. And, possibly in a late bid to prove himself as wacky as the rest of Blackburn's hit list, he believes teams should be allowed to bring on a 12th man if they go four goals down in a game. No really, he does. It is an idea of the Norwegian FA's designed to prevent youth teams losing heart if they come up against greatly superior opponents.
"It is a good rule that will lead to more even matches," Berg said. "It is no fun to lose 17-0, and no fun to win 17-0 either."
Seems fair enough, as long as it is limited to junior football. Otherwise Arsenal would have been entitled to an extra man when they went 4-0 down to Reading, and that might have spoiled everyone's fun.