Nothing impresses me more in a football manager than defiance in his beliefs, & the determination to succeed. If more clubs had bosses like Steve Kean, perhaps players would feel less obliged to dive, demand excruciatingly high wages & play football as we know it: Tough challenges, commitment to the cause & less flair more adrenaline rush: Everything that epitomise Blackburn Rovers.
What’s gone wrong?
Blackburn have been the definition of ‘too little too late’ & letting leads go this season. Blackburn have lost the most points of any team when in a winning position this season. They’ve thrown away a staggering 14 points from a leading position. If you compare this to their relegation rivals, Bolton Wanderers top this table having only lost 2 points from the same position.
The loss of loyal servant Brett Emerton seems to have had an impact on the side. The Australian, Rover’s through & through was never known for his mazy runs or flair. He’s another player who had a Spartan like work-rate for the club. The regular corner & free kick taker (Morten Gamst Pedersen aside) Emerton scored 19 goals in his time & produced 44 assists. His departure was untimely too, just 2 games into the current season, ending on a sour 2-1 defeat at home to Everton, in which 2 penalties were unsuccessfully converted.
Steve Kean has also taken a chance in trying to produce a young team, looking to the future. Though this is a trait I admire, I can’t help but feel that Kean must look at the immediate future. Playing a 17 – year old in Adam Henley at Right back has got to be extreme pressure for him, with little experience to his name. For someone in his position I feel he’s done reasonably well, or as well as he can. Come the end of next season, regardless of whether he’s in the Premier League or Championship, he’ll be a different player. He should take heart from his Trojan work-rate at Anfield on Boxing Day. I hope fellow Scotsman King Kenny was watching closely.
Nothing To Lose
I think few of us expected the cliché ‘Rollercoaster Ride’ period that Blackburn experience during the festive fixtures. After a narrow defeat to relegation & local rivals Bolton Wanderers, being bottom at Christmas seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for Blackburn Rovers. Trips to Liverpool the next day & Manchester United on New Year’s Eve looked daunting to all pundits & football fans a like.
Some fans were hoping for a ‘battering’, in hope of this leading to Kean’s dismissal. As a firm believer of backing your team to the death, I find it difficult to say anything respectful to say about such behaviour. We all remember the poisonous protests at St. James’ Park in September 2008 following Kevin Keegan’s dismissal. I dare think any Newcastle fan has looked back since.
It takes a bold side to go to Old Trafford on Sir Alex Ferguson’s 70th Birthday & take the game to Manchester United. It proved dividends, & Blackburn became the next side to expose United’s crocked ridden defence. An un-necessary penalty given away, & a howler from inexperienced ‘keeper David De Gea of course helped. But take nothing away from Blackburn. Their side once again took their time on the ball, never chased the game & after losing a 2-0 lead to 2-2, had enough momentum to go & win the game. I’d hope those violent protestors must have felt fairly sheepish after these two games. Perhaps something was in the water in Manchester that weekend, seeing as Manchester City went to Sunderland & also lost.
This was a Blackburn side that looked relaxed in their football, & hanging on to every word their manager orders them to do. Amid the protests, signs & gestures of the fans, these players run their legs into the ground for their boss, not a trait all top sides are privileged to have in their Arsenal.
Why is Steve Kean the best man for the job?
Blackburn fans under estimate a manager with much less experience at Managerial level than others. Steve Kean’s defiance in press-conferences has been outstanding, answering any & all questions put in front of him. The constant questions of his sacking must be giving him excruciating headaches at times, not that he ever reveals it. He’s dealt with these accusations tremendously, honestly & straight up.
For a man under such pressure, the guy shows so much passion as a manager too. I can’t remember the last time I saw Steve Kean sitting back in his dugout with his head in his hands. He’s always at the edge of his line, giving encouragement, almost oblivious to the banners around him.
Other managers respect him highly too. When the protests got out of hand, I remember all Premier League managers coming to his aid, calling the protests ‘a disgrace’. His phone call from Sir Alex Ferguson must have been a considerable morale-boost. Perhaps timed badly, as his side went on to lose to Blackburn days later!
The main concern Steve Kean has is Blackburn’s difficulty at being resilient. Rover’s fans have seen their side concede 14 goals in the last 10 minutes plus added time this season. They’ve also conceded 8 goals within the first 10 minutes of second half’s, putting themselves on the back foot constantly. Kean may perhaps need to look into seeing out games. Pushing player’s fatigue is proving costly, but perhaps an early knock-out of the FA Cup could prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Can they stay up?
Absolutely! Their 3-1 win today was testament to everything that is good about Blackburn as they went down to 10 men but still found it in them to get the 3 points and subsequently now sit outside the relegation zone. Although QPR and Wigan do have a game in hand. Blackburn still have all the other relegation candidates to play yet, with Saturday 5th May possibly being their most important game of their season as they take on Wigan at home.
With the same enthusiasm, determination of Steve Kean, combined with removing such obstacles as showing the opposition too much respect & seeing out the final 10 minutes of games, Steve Kean’s side have every chance of survival. If Blackburn do stay up (& I hope they do) perhaps Blackburn fans may start to feel some shame for their actions.
There’s one final way to sum up Steve Kean. With his side trailing 2-1 at Stoke, Morten Gamst Pedersen goes to retrieve the ball, only to slide directly through his boss. Kean would get up straight away with a huge grin on his face & laugh the situation off. Perhaps a little too much commitment being shown from the players to their manager….