Blackburn Rovers are expected to part company with their manager, Jon Dahl Tomasson, before Saturday’s game against Stoke City, capping a turbulent week for the Championship club. John Eustace is the favourite to take charge, with an announcement anticipated of Tomasson’s resignation or a mutual termination.
Tomasson has grown disillusioned with the Rovers hierarchy after transfer blunders and amid the owner Venky’s facing questions about its finances. Tomasson remains popular with the board and fans but the Dane’s discontent and Blackburn’s woeful recent form, which has dropped them to 18th, seem to have convinced all that a departure would be in the best interests of the club. Eustace was controversially replaced by Wayne Rooney at Birmingham City in October with the club sixth.
Tomasson was blocked from speaking to the media last Friday after a controversial deadline day. Rovers sold their prize asset Adam Wharton to Crystal Palace for a club record £22m before twice fumbling a deal for the highly rated United States international Duncan McGuire. The deal for the striker remains in the balance after “an administrative error” by Blackburn officials just before the deadline. Rovers thought they had clicked “submit paperwork” on the English Football League’s transfer system but had hit “save”, according to the Athletic.
“All of the necessary signed paperwork had been completed prior to 10pm on Thursday 1 February, however due to an administrative error the forms were not processed within the prescribed time,” Blackburn said on Friday. “The club’s lawyers have prepared the required papers and sent to the EFL board.”
On Thursday the EFL board rejected an application from Blackburn to register McGuire on loan. “The board determined that the upload of documents into a draft application area did not constitute sending documents to the EFL,” the league said. Blackburn said last week that “should the appeal be refused then Blackburn will attempt to reach a pre-contract agreement with Orlando City over the coming weeks to enable the player to officially join the club on a permanent basis when the 2024 summer transfer window opens”.
Blackburn endured a similar transfer saga on deadline day last summer. Having agreed a deal for the Nottingham Forest midfielder Lewis O’Brien, the EFL decided not to ratify the transfer because of late submission of paperwork. Broughton said he was “devastated by the decision” and cited “internal and external reasons” but ultimately took responsibility for the O’Brien failure.
The sale of Wharton, who was born in Blackburn and joined the club’s academy aged six, is a rare example of Rovers getting a substantial fee for their assets. Ashley Phillips, the highly rated England Under-19 defender who had been with the club since the age of 12, left for £2m after Spurs activated a release clause that Rovers failed to omit from the teenager’s contract.
The top scorer Ben Brereton Díaz also left last summer, joining Villarreal on a free transfer. Rovers had turned down bids of about £10m for Brereton Díaz in January 2023, gambling on a return to a long-awaited return to the Premier League because the club were in the top six. Blackburn finished the season seventh, missing out on the playoffs on goal difference. The previous summer, Joe Rothwell (to Bournemouth) and the captain Darragh Lenihan (to Middlesbrough) left the club without a fee.
This season’s form has waned badly after a bright start, prompting Rovers to invite supporters’ groups for a meeting with senior players to discuss recent results. Blackburn have picked up two points from the past eight games and are without a league win in nearly two months. Injuries have mounted and summer signings such as Niall Ennis and Semir Telalovic have failed to have any impact. The form of Sammie Szmodics, who has scored 21 goals in 30 appearances, has kept Rovers clear of the relegation zone.
After the latest home defeat on Saturday, against fellow strugglers QPR, Tomasson was permitted to speak to the media but said he was “not allowed to speak about” the McGuire deal. “I think you should ask Steve [Waggott, CEO], Suhail [Shaikh, the operations and management consultant] and the ownership about the Duncan McGuire case.”
Venky’s, which bought Blackburn in 2010 for about £23m, is under scrutiny in India, where the government seized assets worth £7.3m in September relating to the purchase of a large house in Lancashire. The club announced last month proceedings “will not impact the day-to-day funding of the club”.