Hammer Falls on Ince

Hard to say where a coach has less job security -- the NBA or the Premier League. Today the ax fell on Blackburn Rovers boss Paul Ince, who lasted barely six months at Ewood Park. It didn't help matters that Blackburn had lost six straight league matches and had gone 11 without a win.

Ince had made history, becoming the first black British manager in the Premier League. Too bad he stepped into a very tricky situation on the heels of leading MK Dons from Leauge Two to League One. Ince, who played 53 games for England, is only 41 and should bounce back on his feet sooner rather than later.

Under Mark Hughes, Blackburn had become a very competent and solid mid-table Premier League side, finishing seventh in the 2007-08 season. Rovers weren't the flashiest club in the world, but they did enough to qualify for the UEFA Cup in back-to-back seasons.

The departure of Hughes left a vacuum of leadership and to some extent identity with the club. That hole became bigger when longtime stalwart goalkeeper, American Brad Friedel, asked to leave and ended up at Aston Villa. (Perhaps he read the writing on the wall.) On top of that, Blackburn lost arguably its best field player -- David Bentley -- to Spurs, too.

Where Blackburn goes from here is anyone's guess. Will the club finally wilt to the advances of Manchester City and sell off its best striker Roque Santa Cruz? Or will the board of directors throw some money at the problem and become January buyers to muscle up for a survival fight? Names being kicked around as possible managers include usual suspects Sam Allardyce and Alan Curbishley.

Blackburn were relegated after the 1998-99 Premier League season. They earned promotion in their second season in the Second Division, and the following season won the League Cup.

Rovers also remain a nice bit of trivia to ask American fans of Premiership, as they are the only club aside from Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea to actually win the Premier League since its inception in 1992, winning it in 1994-95. Today, however, that seems like ancient, ancient history.

Hammer Falls on Ince originally appeared on Soccer FanHouse on Tue, 16 Dec 2008 11:38:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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