Below the Championship parapet, evidence is emerging that the Ewood Park club are slowly engineering a change of fortunes
The story that the top of the Championship table seems to be telling at the moment is that of a revival in East Midlands football, with Leicester City, Derby County and Nottingham Forest all making a strong push for promotion, though mixed in there is evidence also of a recovery in East Lancashire.
Burnley have been going well all season, with Danny Ings' goals ensuring the Clarets have been at or near the top from the start, though less eye-catching and arguably more unlikely has been a steady improvement in Blackburn's fortunes. Like the Spanish Inquisition, no one was expecting that.
Granted, Rovers are only in 10th position at the moment, not exactly poised to derail Burnley's promotion train. Yet a robust performance against Manchester City at the weekend was not the only indication that things at Ewood might be looking up after several seasons of grim decline.
There was no demonstration by dissatisfied supporters for a start, and the place seemed unnaturally quiet until the unfeasibly loud PA system kicked in, although it would be true to say there were not as many home supporters as there once would have been either. The Blackburn end was far from full, a deficiency highlighted by the 7,000 City fans packing out the Darwen End opposite. While some Rovers regulars have clearly been voting with their feet over the dispiriting events of the past few seasons, the ones that did bother to turn up were entertained by a good old-fashioned cup tie.
Much credit for that is due to Gary Bowyer, who has not only been in his present position for longer than Manuel Pellegrini, but appears to have reached a workable compromise with the club's Indian owners. Venky's are insisting that the Rovers wage bill must be slashed – "chopped right down", was Bowyer's expression, and the manager has agreed to make savings wherever he can. Perhaps Venky's are not made of money, perhaps their enthusiasm for football has diminished somewhat since their enthusiastic arrival on the English football scene, but whatever the reasoning, a glimpse at Bolton's chaotic finances would suggest that prudence is a necessity for mid-table Championship clubs about to adjust to life without parachute payments.
Yet against a background of cost-cutting and wage-slashing, Bowyer has not only been able to bring a couple of handy players on loan but convert them into permanent signings. After paying Hull £500,000 for Tom Cairney and Cardiff an undisclosed (though thought to be similar) amount for Rudy Gestede as soon as the transfer window opened, Bowyer watched both have impressive games against City then thanked the owners for their support in the transfer market. "We have to cut the wage bill but we still have targets," the Rovers manager said. "Fortunately we have owners who will provide backing once we have identified the right players."
Paul Robinson went even further, not exactly hailing Venky's as model owners, but saying he had seen worse in his time at Leeds. "We have a lot more stability now than in the past, a good bunch of players and a good manager," the former England goalkeeper said after his first game in over a year. "There were a lot more financial problems at Leeds but at this club we have owners who will back the manager. A lot has been made of the wage bill but you have to expect a transitional period when a club comes out of the Premier League."
For a club that actually managed to have most of its transitional period while still a member of the Premier League elite, it is the stability being enjoyed at present that is priceless. Stability is the key to success, though it is notoriously elusive and there is some evidence that success, or at least a degree of it, needs to come first: Arsène Wenger's longevity at Arsenal, for example, is based on his sensational results when he first joined the club, winning the double in his first full season, no less.
Success for Blackburn this season might amount to a convincing push for a play-off place, though if that doesn't happen, keeping hold of a capable manager and a promising squad might also be considered a worthwhile achievement.
So too would some evidence of repair to the public relations damage done over recent years, which may bring some of the missing supporters back onside. Venky's may never win any popularity contests, but after a litany of mistakesthe club itself appears to be moving in the right direction. Only small steps, maybe, but once a degree of stability has been gained it makes sense not to rush matters.