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BARRY LANDY

Features, articles and opinions on football’s biggest stories | www.downinthebox.com

Points and parties are not mutually exclusive at Christmas Everybody likes a nice spot of dinner and a couple of glasses of wine. In moderation, there’s no harm in it. Blackburn Rovers should not necessarily have felt obliged to have cancelled their Christmas party; the Lancashire club are hardly the only side throughout England’s top four divisions underperforming despite early season expectations and sizeable investment. This Christmas, Rovers did not follow the lead of Queens Park Rangers and Newcastle United in the Premier League and even Oxford United in League 2 in ditching their annual bash. The other U’s situation is considerably less precarious than the former three, but Chris Wilder’s decision to scrap the Oxford Christmas party is indicative of a shift in tolerance for excess as a whole. One win in nine games since his third coming at Blackburn is hardly the backdrop upon which Henning Berg could let his hair down, metaphorically speaking. It is a festive bash though, coming together to celebrate the season, rather than one to revel at any team or individual triumph. The football season is only half way through after all. It works both ways too. Messers Redknapp, who has previous in voicing his disdain for Christmas parties, and Pardew have cancelled their club’s respective gettogethers out of shame on their part and respect for their support base. Blackburn Rovers, however, felt a party

could be good for morale. This remember is a team struggling to salvage anything from the wreckage of a tragic two years. Berg evidently appreciated that a party would go some way to boosting morale within a struggling, inflated and multinational squad. For non-playing staff, insecurity and the threat of redundancies are hardly conducive to the best working conditions. Holding a party in the midst of Blackburn’s current plight is a nod to placating the staff and players on the part of the owners, a bit like the appointment of club legend Berg as manager in October. The latter hasn’t work of yet. Two Mondays ago, Rovers held that party in a function suite at Ewood Park and Berg was encouraged by a club executive (Blackburn really can pick them) to take the stage, wear a Christmas stocking and dance. Whilst you read this, nurse your cup of tea and envisage just how Berg wore a Christmas stocking, consider

Henning Berg has kept the Christmas party for Blackburn, hoping it will prove a boost to morale

how that and not the hosting of a party, the manager himself considered being, “not right.” A Michael Jackson wig was the final straw. That Berg, obviously a dignified and studious type, was unwilling to engage in such activity is a good sign. It’s much ado about nothing and the media reports of the Norwegian ‘storming out’ only served to exasperate matters but if anything should be taken from the episode, it’s that. With no visible improvement on the field since he took over from Steve Kean in the Autumn, Berg sees no room for such indignant frivolities. There is no complacency evident there under the new manager. No complacency in thinking Blackburn’s cream will rise to the top of the Championship or that Berg’s stature among the club’s support protects him in any way. Happy New Year. www.cu-fc.com

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Swindon Town 2012/13  
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