Sir Alex Ferguson, Bill Shankly, Sir Matt Busby, Jock Stein, Brian Clough, Sir Alf Ramsey, Bob Paisley and Steve Kean. Can you spot the odd one out? The majority are widely acknowledged as being the greatest British football managers ever, while one could be argued not to be.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines someone who is ‘great’ as having ‘ability, quality, or eminence considerably above average’ – all of which should help towards identifying the interloper on the list. Yet if you take a few recent quotes about this individual you’d be mistaken for thinking you’d been transported into a parallel universe.
“I’ve nothing but respect and admiration for the manager. He’s been magnificent.” “When meeting the manager I soon realised the passion, enthusiasm and ambition he has for the club.” “I’ve been with the manager before so I know what he’s about. He’s a good manager and there’s a good structure here.”
Certainly some glowing tributes there. Now let’s see – a magnificent, ambitious manager working at a club with a good structure. It must be Sir Alex at Man Utd then. A career laden with success both at home and abroad – it can’t be anyone else. It certainly couldn’t be someone whose main claim during their managerial career to date, was to take a well established Premier League and send it hurtling into the Championship in little over a year – surely not?
Yet those three comments were made by Bradley Orr, Danny Murphy and Leon Best. All Blackburn Rovers players and managed by the odd one out – Steve Kean. Quite what explanation any of the trio would have for spouting such obvious dirge is beyond the rcomprehension of most right-thinking people. Had those comments been made about anyone else on the list there’d have been no argument. But Kean? Really?
In the cases of Murphy and Best it seems a ridiculous way to start off with a new club. Unless both of them have had their heads buried in the sand for the past 18 months, they can’t have failed to notice Rovers’ fans haven’t exactly been The Great One’s biggest fan. Trotting out what a brilliant manager he is does nothing other than crank up the pressure on both to make an immediate impact or face the wrath of an increasingly disillusioned fan-base. When Orr threw out his pearls of wisdom back back in May, he found himself on the end of a barrel load of abuse – damned by association – and facing the very real possibility of never being able to win round the fans again. Murphy and Best could well find themselves in the same boat.
Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, but when it’s something so obviously inaccurate it does nothing other than insult the fans’ intelligence. Steve Kean might be a lot of things – maybe he’s heavily into charity work; perhaps he looks after injured animals – but a great football manager? No, no and no just a little bit more.