Undefeated in two spells as caretaker manager, is Gary Bowyer proving he is too good for his current employers?
There are plenty of invisible men in football. For every manager, there are countless people behind the scenes, men never known outside their club.
Sometimes – usually when a headline name departs – these men are thrown into the spotlight. And for a time they do the job that is asked of them, before going back to what they did before.
When Gary Bowyer first took over as caretaker manager of Blackburn Rovers in January, he was the latest in a long time of men with one job asked to do another. Only Bowyer was different, because during his time in charge, the players did what they hadn’t before and haven’t since – they won.
That he was supposed to be in charge for a month that lasted a fortnight says everything about the current state of the club. And yet now he finds himself back in the hot-seat; perhaps the hottest seat in football.
In his first spell in charge – in the gap between Henning Berg’s departure and Michael Appleton’s arrival – Bowyer oversaw a four-game undefeated streak that included three wins and a draw.
It was a record that would have won some men the permanent position. But “permanent” isn’t a word you hear at Ewood Park much these days.
To put Bowyer’s brief spell in charge into perspective, Rovers had managed only one win in 10 under Berg. Under Bowyer, they won three out of four.
Upon leaving that first stint, Bowyer spoke of returning to what he had been doing for years – developing players who would go on to represent the first team with similar success as Phil Jones and Grant Hanley.
It was no surprise then that the players performed for him. Not when he had helped some of them get into the team in the first place.
And now, following Appleton’s departure, Bowyer finds himself in charge again. Until the end of the season, he has been told. Although fully aware of a tumultuous few months, he says he is taking it one game at a time.
For once it isn’t a football cliché. It is realism.
Which is why, when the season is over and he has probably saved them from a mess of their own making, Bowyer should leave the club completely.
A man who has behaved so impeccably in the midst of absurdity would be better served in an environment where football is understood; and where men such as Bowyer are championed, not used as stop-gaps.
It would be an act directed solely at the owners who have turned a once-great club into a laughing stock, not at the fans who continue to support Rovers through thin and thinner.
No doubt other clubs have taken notice. And he will surely have offers.
In an act of defiance to rid Rovers of owners who just don’t get it. Bowyer should accept one of those offers. And perhaps one day he may return to manage there – permanently – under someone with the patience necessary to build success once more.
Is Gary Bowyer fully appreciated under the current owners or should he move on...for now?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald