Sunday 16 June 2019

Berg rows back on criticism of Blackburn owners as he takes charge

Dominic Farrell

HENNING Berg dismissed the significance of barbed comments he once made about Blackburn's owners following his appointment as manager of the Championship club.

Berg, a Premier League and League Cup winner during two playing spells with Rovers, was unveiled as Steve Kean's successor at an Ewood Park press conference this morning.

As speculation surrounding the 43-year-old former Norway defender's imminent return to east Lancashire gathered pace yesterday, much was made of his withering assessment of the club's owners, Venky's, while working as a pundit for TV 2 Sporten in his homeland.

On the back of Blackburn's relegation from the Barclays' Premier League last season amid widespread supporter unrest, Berg was quoted as saying: "There are no real managers with credibility who would accept a job like that."

But the former Lyn Oslo and Lillestrom boss claims he now has a more rounded view of life under the Indian poultry giants and outspoken global advisor Shebby Singh.

"That was me looking at it from the outside without knowing really what was going on in the inside," he said.

"It is always easy to criticise when you're on the outside. Now I've spoken to the owners, I know what the club has done in the summer which is after what has been said earlier.

"They've been making many important steps to take this club forward again.

"I think this club at the moment is going in the right direction and I think there are a lot of people doing a good job making sure that we can get back into the Premier League."

That remains a very realistic ambition as Rovers, despite a protracted month-long search for an new manager played out against a backdrop of empty seats at Ewood, lie fifth in the Championship going into Berg's first assignment at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Following thorough discussions with their chosen candidate, Singh insists the Rovers board have made Berg firmly aware that promotion is the requirement.

"Henning fully understands the responsibility that he's taking on," he said. "He was a very, very successful player at this club and he fully understands the ambition.

"He realises the size of the task that he's taken and is willing to take - promotion."

Singh joined Berg in dismissing his comments on Venky's before suggesting the owners had taken on board some of the vitriol that has poured their way.

"We never gave that any consideration," he said of the quotes. "Yes, in a previous job things can be said but I think he understands my bosses and my bosses understand now where he's coming from.

"He's our man now, he's with us and together we want to achieve for this club."

Berg's playing return to Blackburn came after a decorated three-year spell at Manchester United, with Graeme Souness looking to lead a squad well-stocked with top-flight experience out of the second tier following a debilitating relegation.

Promotion was expected on that occasion and Berg is happy to embrace the parallels.

"That's the way it should be," he added. "A club of our size and our history and our qualities should always be aiming to get back into the Premier League, play there regularly and do well there.

"That is our aim, that is our goal to get back in and we will do everything we can to do that."

Press Association

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