STEVE Kean. what a brave, brave man. A candidate for manager of the season, according to Paul Wilson of the Guardian in an article pencilled on the 21st March after a 2-0 win over a tired Sunderland side had given Blackburn Rovers a fighting chance of avoiding the perilous trapdoor into the Championship.
Forget the 13 wins, 14 draws and 31 defeats in Kean’s Premier League record, the man is a hero. He has had to put up with some of the worst vitriol ever experienced by a manager. Personal abuse such as chants of ‘KEAN OUT!’ and a plane overflying Ewood Park bearing the message ‘STEVE KEAN OUT!’ against Chelsea in November. Those unpleasant supporters of a small club in a working class Northern town who are completely insignificant to the London-dominated media have brought nothing but shame to their club and shame to English football! Wanting a change of manager is now akin to insulting somebody and their family. Quick, let’s get that update in the Oxford English Dictionary!
Of course, if your sarcasm detector is effective enough, we can proceed with the facts. One of which I have already mentioned. Kean’s record. When Rovers sacked Sam Allardyce in December 2010, the club was in 13th place, but with a very solid home record. They were rarely beaten on their Ewood turf under the current West Ham boss.
Steve Kean is not solely to blame for Blackburn’s disastrous relegation though. He is a symptom of a deep malaise that has stricken the club and the people of the town who hold it close to their heart since Indian poultry firm Venky’s decided to purchase it from the family of the late Jack Walker.
Venky’s arrived talking a good game, but as of now all they have delivered is outrage, relegation and an even tighter wage budget than what had existed under their predecessors, when it was run by John Williams- prudently, but with an excellent business model, as not only Allardyce but also Mark Hughes and Graeme Souness delivered top 10 finishes on a limited transfer kitty. The latter even delivered a League Cup success. Given Rovers’ resources, Williams and the owners had gained the adknowledgement and respect of any sensible football fanatic, no matter what colours they align themselves with, for the way they had run a family club sensibly as well as remain competitive on the pitch.
Indeed when Rovers last dropped from the top flight in 1999, there was no anger towards anyone, just bonafide sadness, which stemmed from the man who owned it at the time, Jack Walker. The fans knew how much it meant to him, and they cried with him. There was no anger, there were no protests and unlike this season there were no complaints emanating from Jack Straw MP and the Lancashire Telegraph during that bumpy period for Blackburn Rovers Football Club.
But now? Venky’s never make appearances at Ewood Park. They talked about reaching the Champions’ League in four seasons. They talked about acquiring Brazilian legend Ronaldinho. But what has actually happened? They dealt with an agent, Jerome Anderson, who possibly helped broker their takeover and advised them on football matters. The list of accusations aimed in his direction stands as follows:
1 Sacking of Sam Allardyce: Departed despite a respectable record. Most casual observers, well I certainly thought at the time, might have imagined he would be replaced by a big-name manager to coincide with the bold statements of Champions’ League and Ronaldinho. Eyebrows raised in the main.
2 Appointment of Steve Kean: Steve Kean is Anderson’s client. He was the number three in charge of Rovers to Allardyce, with Neil McDonald as his right-hand man. What is commonplace when a football manager is dismissed is that the assistant takes caretaker responsibilities. Allardyce even recommended McDonald should be in charge of first-team affairs. However Venky’s, advised by Anderson on football matters, put his man in the Blackburn Rovers hot seat.
3 Signing of Jerome Anderson’s son Myles: Myles Anderson was struggling to get a game for Aberdeen. Yet in the transfer window of January 2011, Rovers bizarrely take a punt on him. It is a transfer that hovers under the radar in a month where the British record fee was smashed by £35m and £50m deals elsewhere.
4 Being in charge of transfers: ultimately it is a squad that has largely been put together by Anderson that has been relegated from the Premier League. Not only did the signing of his son make no sense, but the majority of signings brought in with the exception of Yakubu have failed spectacularly. Why was Bradley Orr released by a relegation rival in Queen’s Park Rangers? It could not have been done with aiding Blackburn’s own survival chances in mind could it? Non-Anderson signings like Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen have departed and others such as Michel Salgado have been frozen out, apparently due to a clause which entitles him to an unaffordable new contract, or so we are led to believe.
Venky’s, Jerome Anderson and Steve Kean all share the responsibility for Blackburn’s relegation. Yet some continue to blame the fans for having the NERVE to protest. I spotted a tweet from a Swansea City supporting female on Twitter last night talking about how vile the supporters have been all season. What, for having the club’s best interests at heart by trying to smoke out the poison that has engulfed it from top to bottom? I simply could not be bothered asking what she did when Tony Petty was running the Swans into the ground. I assume she kept quiet then, or was it OK because it was her own club infected with parasitic power people?
God bless the Rovers fans for standing up and fighting against evil. As a Tranmere die-hard, I can talk about my own club’s hierarchy. Our owner is OK. He is not brilliant, and he wants out with a high asking price. But he does, in my eyes, have the club’s best interests at heart. If a bunch of parasites like Venky’s got their hands on TRFC, I would be there outside Prenton Park making my voice heard. Blackburn brothers, I am firmly in your corner and I hope that a sale can occur as soon as possible to prevent the death of a historic, proud institution- a genuine way of life for the peaceful people of its town.
Good luck boys and girls.