Kean a dead man walking – away from the madness
21:00 GMT, 30 September 2012
21:00 GMT, 30 September 2012
The call they had been expecting for months came as a surprise. The players of Blackburn Rovers were midway through their evening meal on Friday at the team’s hotel when they were informed that knives and forks had to be put down, that then-manager Steve Kean wanted to speak to them.
‘We knew something was wrong,’ explained the young Rovers midfielder Jason Lowe.
‘We were halfway through our dinner when the team meeting was called. Then we had an idea. It wasn’t very nice – a horrible way to do it.’
Dead man walking: Steve Kean had been on borrowed time at Blackburn
Kean told the Blackburn players that, after almost two years in position at Ewood Park, if not in charge, he was no longer their manager. In a later statement, Kean used the word ‘untenable’.
Eric Black, Kean’s assistant, took on the caretaker role that used to be Tony Parkes’ domain at Ewood and Black said: ‘Steve wanted to speak to everybody at the same time. It was a sombre atmosphere. The players were disappointed. They all shook his hand.’
Black had to pick a team for Saturday’s game at Charlton, which may well have been the same one that Kean would have selected.
Black, 49 on Monday, has managed Motherwell and Coventry and did not rule himself out of the Blackburn job, but one imagines he is considered too close to Kean by the hierarchy and supporters to be a contender.
Besides, Black has seen Blackburn from the inside and, however messy it appears from afar, you can bet it will look worse from within.
All square: Blackburn couldn't hold on to their lead at Charlton
‘I’ve seen things which I didn’t think I would see,’ said Black. ‘I won’t elaborate. It’s the crazy world of football.’
Gael Givet, for example, did not reappear for the second half against Charlton. Givet looked irritated as he walked towards the tunnel at half-time, removing his shirt.
Black was asked if Givet, who suffered heart palpitations last season, had an injury.
‘No,’ replied Black. ‘It wasn’t an injury.’ Was it a tactical decision ‘No, it wasn’t a tactical decision.’
Lowe spoke of the ‘great spirit brewing in that dressing room’ and there was no lack of commitment in a most average match. But it would be no shock to discover that, with the influx of nationalities and signings (some not made by Kean), there are divisions.
Shebby Singh, Blackburn’s ‘global advisor’ as appointed by the Venky’s ownership, was at the Valley to see Dickson Etuhu give Rovers the lead and Johnnie Jackson’s home equaliser. Singh was thought to be seeking a meeting with Black on Sunday.
Mystery: Givet (left) storms off at half-time shadowed by Black (right)
It may well have entailed confirmation that Black will be in charge for Wednesday’s trip to Nottingham Forest because, unless Tim Sherwood resigns from his coaching job at Tottenham, getting the former Rovers captain from White Hart Lane may take time. If Spurs chairman Daniel Levy gets his way, it may also take money.
But Sherwood is a solid favourite to be Blackburn’s fourth manager since Mark Hughes left in 2008. It is thought he wants the job and it is now about getting matters across the line. On Sunday, as is the way of things, Sherwood played it down. ‘Just rumours,’ he said.
In the meantime, the club have been inundated with applications. Dozens apparently, from all across the continent, including from former Chelsea full back Albert Ferrer, who had a one-season stint as manager of Vitesse Arnhem.
Italian Silvio Baldini, last seen at Vicenza in Serie B, is another believed to have expressed an interest. Then there is Mick McCarthy, experienced and available. Craig Short, briefly manager of Notts County, had six years as a player at Ewood and has been mentioned. As has Alan Shearer.
In contention: Shearer (left) has been mooted as a potential replacement for Kean
Shearer would certainly fit the ‘global’ aspect of Singh’s remit. He, like Sherwood, would also spark a local reaction and sell tickets. Rovers have had only one Saturday home game this season and there were 14,000 to see Leicester.
On Saturday Wolves are the visitors. The last time Rovers and Wolves met at this level on a Saturday, in November 2000, there were 20,380 present.
Crowds above 20,000 would show how many have stayed away during Kean’s sour era. It was his 45th birthday on Sunday. By doing what he did on Friday night, at least Kean was spared shaking hands with the referee at Charlton, Darren Deadman.
What about fans' abuse
Charlton Athletic have a warm, family reputation and there was a happy-clappy, half-time greeting for former player Allan Simonsen, the former European Footballer of the Year who somehow left Barcelona for Charlton in 1982 – arguably the strangest transfer in history.
Simonsen’s reception contrasted with that of another former player, Danny Murphy. Blackburn’s Murphy had 18 months at Charlton in between his Liverpool and Tottenham phases.
It is hard to imagine Murphy being awful at Charlton and yet the abuse he received on Saturday was just that. It was personal and, while some of the abusers might say it was ‘banter’, Murphy cannot have heard it that way.
Footballers are lectured about their behaviour; what about the fans