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Blackburn’s Steve, Kean despite the critics

Steve Kean has endured an entertaining first year in charge of Blackburn Rovers to say the least. Stretching from December 2010, he has accumulated a win percentage rate of only 18%; a record no premier league football manager wants to boast. Even Sam Allardyce, his predecessor, was unable to divert from the first sacking of the Venky regime although achieving a 10% higher win success rate and leaving the club 13th in the Premier League table. Yet Kean has publicly announced no desire to resign from his unstable tenure and has reinforced the notion that he will steer the club away from danger. With the club flirting with relegation many fans have intensified the pressure, with countless banners, protests and chants calling for the end to a frustrating managerial reign. As one fan states, the club are “showing a complete lack of direction” and implementing the “nail in the coffin”.

Yet other Premier league managers have come out in complete support for Kean, who they see as being victimised for the wrong reasons. As Alan Pardew states: “He’s trying to do the best job he can. Therefore he should be left alone to do that for the team”. This is further supported through fellow Scotsman Everton manager David  Moyes who left the relegation crunch game against Bolton at half-time in disgust at the treatment of the 44 year-old. Even Sir Alex Ferguson has rifled his disgust as the treatment: “It doesn’t say a lot for society. For goodness sake give the lad a break.”

Although such a profession invokes this responsibility, it is the treatment of Kean that is causing such debate. Fans are duly respected for showing concern for their club. They are the driving force behind any team through the commitment of time, moneys and efforts which help to progress teams in the 21st Century era. But in the height of a relegation battle, and at a time in where the team and the club need to unite, in Redknapp’s words the “horrific” treatment of Kean is not of any benefit and needs to be stopped if Blackburn are to escape their plight.

The LMA noted: “It is to Steve’s significant credit that he has shouldered this continued onslaught with dignity and professionalism and has continued to work with his players to try to improve results on the pitch.” With no public backing, Kean has been left entirely isolated, becoming the predominant scapegoat and receiving the criticism. As West Ham United and Avram Grant witnessed in the previous premier league season, fighting the relegation battle is harder with little backing from the fans upon their manager.

It must also be understood that the dismissal of Kean would not necessarily be the answer to their ongoing problems. Firing Kean would open a transition phase. Such a phase leaves the owners having to find a suitable replacement who is willing to enter a role with heightened expectations, demands and tension. The transition phase would also foresee football games of trial and error with the new manager implementing his tactics, his ideas and his philosophy amidst the group. With a quarter of the season completed, and a 5 point gap opening from 20th to the safe 17th place, would the dismissal of Kean be enough to save Rovers from relegation?

Steve Kean’s reign is his first in management and it would come as no surprise if the odds on favourite would lose his battle and his job before the close of 2011. But with the running of the club also in disarray, it looks as though a restructuring programme may be the only hope. With the ongoing Michel Salgado affair relating to a contract renewal through appearance clauses, Kean is being seen as the sole entity that is weakening survival chances, when in fact he is just a microcosm to the wider complications of a struggling football club.


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