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A Victory for Football if Blackburn Rovers Stay Up

Last  night’s 2-0 win against Martin O’Neil’s resurgent Sunderland sees Blackburn extend to six points above the relegation zone. Goals from Hoilett and Yakubu gave Kean his first back-to-back wins as manager, and sees them take ten points from the last five games. In a season that has seen monumental abuse from admittedly a section of the Blackburn crowd towards their manager Steve Kean, it appears that perhaps finally the team’s fortunes are changing, and whilst there is still seven or eight games left of the season, the recent results suggest that Blackburn may be making the push to save their season.

Appointed in somewhat controversial circumstances following the sacking of former Manager Sam Alladyce, it’s fair to say that Kean was not a popular appointment. Results last season did nothing to encourage the fans, as their mid-table security was compromised, and Kean dragged them dangerously towards the relegation zone. Only a last day win against Wolves prevented Blackburn from being relegated. The Venky Group held firm though. As far as they were concerned, they had their man, and they were giving him a chance.

The start of this season began as the previous had ended, losing five and drawing two of their first eight games. Cue some of the most hateful and passion-fueled abuse towards a manager that this country has seen for a long time. Every game seemed to last an entire Saturday, with protests before the game, sit-in’s after the game, and even banners and booing during the game. Facebook groups were created, ‘Kean Out!’ Twitter campaigns circulated, and this group of Blackburn fans (as stated above this was not all of them, but a significant number) were prepared to do anything to get Kean out! The protests before the game were aggressive, although no physical violence was every carried out. It was a hostile atmosphere every game, and yet the players kept plugging away, and Kean kept telling the fans to be patient, that they were doing everything right, and that he would get them out of it. He also had his own message for the fans, asking them to target him as much as they want, but to let the players play with their support for 90 minutes a week.

The abuse continued, and even other Managers began to rush to Kean’s aid, with big names such as Sir Alex Ferguson condemning the hatred that was being aimed at Kean, and everyone trying to explain that this was not going to help their football club escape the relegation fight that they were now so clearly involved in. Kean continued to remain dignified. Not once to my knowledge did he insult the fans. He agreed that they had freedom of speech, and were allowed to vent their frustration. He also kept reminding them that the players and him were hurting just as much from the poor results, but that he would keep trying.

The odd thing was that the performances were not that bad. Even now, there are only 5 or 6 teams in the whole league who have scored more goals. The attacking football was free-flowing and dangerous, but the defence had clear issues, and their inability to keep a clean sheet was their biggest vice. It was clear to any neutral watching, that the hostile environment that the fans had created at Ewood Park was rubbing off on the players, and their lack of confidence was leading to their shipping of goals. Despite all this, Blackburn began to pick up the bizarrest of points, with their three wins before 2012 coming against Arsenal, high flying Swansea and the Champions Manchester United. These combined with loses to the likes of Bolton, West Brom and Stoke, who without any intent to disrespect, were not setting the league alight.

As we entered 2012, the visible and devastating abuse that had overtaken the performances during the first half of the season appeared less and less. Whilst performances still weren’t good enough for the fans, they appeared drained of energy. The Venky’s had been so determined in their support of Kean that the fans finally realised they were fighting a losing battle and settled down, resigning themselves to watching their team slide towards inevitable relegation.

After a 7-1 thumping by Arsenal in February, it appeared that there was nothing Kean could do to prevent relegation. Points were still not being picked up, and the team looked like the hostile fans had finally got the better of their team. Three of their next five games would be against teams around them, and if they dropped points there, it would be very much Blackburn out!

But Kean’s diligence appears to have paid off. He has handled himself with immense dignity throughout the whole season, events which have been branded ‘a farce’ and ‘disgusting’ by some critics, and he had just knuckled down and got on with his job, saving Blackburn Rovers from relegation. Win’s against QPR, Wolves and Sunderland, combined with a draw against Villa and a loss to high flying Manchester City sees Blackburn’s best spell of the season coming at exactly the right time. The fans are beginning to believe, the players certainly believe, and, well, Kean always believed that he could steer them out of this.

However Blackburn players feel about Kean, or about the position their club are in, Kean himself deserves a huge amount of praise. There are few people around who in the middle of such a storm of hatred targeted purely at themselves would be able to conduct themselves with such dignity. Never mind that, but just to get out there each week and do his job, Kean has certainly earned the respect of many people involved with the sport, and hopefully if there are any fans who remain critical, he will also win them over. The club have come together and are continuing to play their good football, and continuing to score goals. Fans may believe that Blackburn shouldn’t even be in a relegation scrap, but the truth is no one has a right to remain in the Premier League. Every team must fight for their place and Blackburn have certainly done that this season. I for one hope they manage to stay up, as in a world where it  is all too easy to sack a Manager after a couple of poor results, it would be a result for the football world in general if a team, Owner and Manager, who kept the faith in the face of adversity managed to pull off a great comeback, and remain a Premier League team for yet another season.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. SI

    21 March, 2012 at 20:02

    95% of Rovers fans were stood up @ the bolton game chanting for Kean out.

    Which fans wouldn’t have at that stage of the season?

    Kean did have sly digs at fans when we got a draw or a win here and there, and still does on occasion, but like any other manager in the top league, you act with dignity infront of cameras (Although there is a youtube clip of Kean swearing at a fan and he IS a convicted drink driver, but we dont mention that).

    The fans have put together this run of results along with the players. We the fans now realise, there is no point protesting to deaf ears, we support our blackburn rovers team, as we always have done even if there is a lunatic in charge of the asylum…. Its kinda like saying to an American, you hate your president? Well then you hate the USA…

    Not one rovers fan wanted us to go down, we all wanted to be prooved wrong about Kean (which most of us still arnt), and yes we protested to get him out because you cannot appoint someone with no experience into the premier league, they should work thier way through the divisions first to prove themselves.

  2. Tom

    21 March, 2012 at 20:26

    SI absolutely agree. Whilst this was aimed at attacking the attitude of the fans during the first half of the season, whether they have simply given up, or they have realised that their attitude can have an effect, their relationship with the team in general seems to have made a massive difference. As stated, he may not be a good manager, but in the state the club was in, getting behind the club appears to have been the best thing for Blackburn!

  3. garnersfreshpint

    21 March, 2012 at 21:02

    SK claimed that someone(a fan) spiked his drink. A claim scoffed at by the judge.
    He insulted us all when he forfeited our League Cup game vs Cardiff and then tried to retract his claim.

    The owners loyalty towards him and the emphasis on youth may be the saving grace and perhaps the only way forward for the small town clubs.

    However, the medias complete disregard of his record has bewildered all fans at ewood, even the ones like me who have not booed or protested during games.

    Rovers are in my blood…Kean and Venkys are not!

  4. Ewoodrover

    21 March, 2012 at 21:30

    The protest against Kean have abated recently because the fans at Ewood have realised that the main cause for the unrest is at the owners door and no matter what Kean does the matriarch will be behind him come what may. The supporters have always supported the team but I doubt if the vast majority will ever have there opinions on Kean changed. Any other manager with a record similar to Kean’s would have been dismissed long since, at any level of football including Sunday morning knockabouts.

  5. Andrew

    21 March, 2012 at 21:42

    I think a few things need to be addressed here :-

    Whilst you spend time discussing the amount of abuse Kean received there is no alternate side of the argument it is very biased, for example a point that could be argued is that in his 50th game in charge it was only the first time he has had back to back wins, or that back to back clean sheets since before he arrived at the club. BEFORE may i add the fans started getting on his back.

    His transfer strategy is horrific, he was given money to sign players in the summer and now he refuses to start half of them on a weekly basis, from what i saw there was real promise for players like Rochina and Vukevic, and yet he continues to ignore them, these players were willing to give everything for the club, such as Vukevic played with a broken nose which he obtained on international duty.

    Kean and Venkys are responsible for the loss of many players, Such as Nelsen, Samba and the soon to depart Hoilett. Any other well established manager/owner combination would have been able to quell this situation and keep players here.

    it should also be documented that Kean has often lied to the fans, we were told that Nelsen was injured only for him to sign for spurs and suddenly appear injury free. Salgado and Roberts have both documented how the club is/has frozen them out and Kean has also documented how this is not the truth, who would you believe? Now im not saying either of these two players would feature in our starting line up or even the subs bench but to lie to us is stupid.

    The verdict on Kean is in, and there will be a % of us who will never forgive him/them for the situation our club has been put in even should we survive, nobody wants to see their club be thrown into such chaos as it has been.

    As for the Venkys sticking with Kean, i whole heartedly believe this is because of how inexperienced they are with regards to the football world as a consortium, and how little amount of time they spend at the ground or even watching the games, if all they have is Keans word to go on performance wise its easy to see why they have not fired his sorry behind before now.

  6. Michael Black

    21 March, 2012 at 22:59

  7. Anonymous

    22 March, 2012 at 06:43

    Kean is a stooge for the clueless owners!

  8. marcus aurelius

    22 March, 2012 at 07:02

    Completely agree with Andrew’s assessment of the current situation! Too many media ‘experts’ spew forth unresearched, knee-jerk reactions to events on match-days with little or no regard to the background to these events.
    If they were to apply themselves to their jobs, which is probably one of the most enjoyable ways of ‘earning’ a living, the general public would have a better insight into the ‘real story’ behind those ‘unspeakable’ fans unrest?
    Pulling your fingers out of Fergie’s arse may prove a good start?

  9. craig

    22 March, 2012 at 15:24

    well sk has won me round he has showed that he will give it his all and i think any manager would have struggled under these owners get behind kean and the team venkys can do 1

  10. gato

    23 March, 2012 at 07:27

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