Lambasted Kean slowly but surely winning over Blackburn boo-boys
He has yet to be asked for a wave or serenaded as one of a kind, but Steve Kean may not be far away from quelling the uprising among Blackburn followers and finally winning them over.
It seemed unthinkable a few weeks ago, when antagonism towards the Blackburn manager was so personal and extreme that visiting Everton boss David Moyes abandoned an Ewood Park scouting mission at half-time and headed home in disgust.
As Moyes was able to testify, after admitting his Everton side were ‘lucky’ to escape with a point against rejuvenated Blackburn at Goodison Park on Saturday, the public perception of Kean is at last taking a turn for the better.
Rival Scots: Moyes (left) and Kean (right) came up against each other at the weekend
Owners Venky’s may still be facing the wrath of disgruntled fans, but there has been a gradual change in attitude towards Kean that has not gone unnoticed in the Blackburn dressing room.
‘I can sense there has been a shift in the mood over the last couple of games,’ said former England midfielder David Dunn. ‘The fans have kept everything out of the ground and have seen a bit of a reward in the results. Through that, the players are getting more confidence back.
‘I’m a big believer that if you’re playing with confidence you can perform as you want to. That was evident against Everton. It was probably the best we have played all season. We played as a team, looked very solid, created chances and looked strong.
‘Sometimes it is difficult to keep your spirit up, certainly with what’s going on off the pitch, so credit to the lads. Let’s be honest, we’re not talking of experienced players, in the main, here. Barring a couple of us, we’re talking young men who haven’t played too many games.
‘But everything they’re being told, they’re taking in, and it looks as if we have some good young lads in there.
Spirited: Blackburn have improved over the last couple of weeks
‘Some of the performances recently have been really good. The manager, the players, the owners and even the fans have had their share of criticism, but it’s important we all stay strong and stick together. Blackburn is renowned for being a family club, and we need to keep hold of that.’
Kean has grown used to jeers and catcalls raining down on him but appears to have turned the tables after taking points from Anfield, Old Trafford and now Goodison Park. Each results was met with derision from the sidelines, but it was all aimed at Blackburn’s opponents.
There are still issues to be dealt with, though, not least QPR and Tottenham target Chris Samba’s reluctance to accept he will not be allowed to leave during the current transfer window.
Samba was deemed unfit mentally to play on Saturday, and Kean is about to find out whether the unhappy defender’s suitors have heeded last week’s warning to back off.
Wantaway: Chris Samba
‘I told the directors I didn’t want to know, leading up to the game, if there had been any more bids for him,’ said Kean. ‘But at the start of next week, I’ll sit down with them and ask where we are at on that front.
‘We’re not selling him. It’s as simple as that. He just needs to get his head together now, and he’ll be back on the training ground next week. There has been interest in previous windows, but once they have closed, he has been excellent and got back to his work. Hopefully, he will react the same way this time.’
With Louis Saha struggling up front and receiving little support from midfield or the flanks, Everton desperately need an attacking spark from somewhere before the transfer window shuts.
‘We needed players to make things happen for us, but no-one seemed able to,’ said manager David Moyes. ‘I thought young Shane Duffy was our best player. He did ever so well, and it will give him confidence and a lot of belief that he can come in and play at this level.'