Tuesday 30 May 2017

Allardyce chorus silenced as Rovers edge closer to safety

Blackburn Rovers 1 Bolton Wanderers 0

Richard Jolly at Ewood Park

If victory is invariably sweet, it is rare that it tastes so strange. Not for more than three months had Blackburn Rovers emerged triumphant -- indeed, their decline was so stark that they had not even led in a match for 12 weeks -- but an overdue win came sugar-coated for Steve Kean.





Besides making an 11th successive season in the Premier League a probability, ending Rovers' worst run for 33 years and securing the derby spoils, it silenced Sam Allardyce's cheerleaders.

"I would imagine if you've got 40 points and a good goal difference, that will see you safe," said Kean. His side now have 38 and, while they await confirmation of their top-flight status, Martin Olsson's precise finish may yet go down as the £50 or £60m goal. The Swede, converted from a left-back to a midfielder by Allardyce, spared the latter's successor a distinctly awkward afternoon. His goal came barely 10 minutes after the Bolton supporters began a chorus of "You should have kept Big Sam," that drew applause from a sizeable contingent of their Blackburn counterparts.

The more attractive play cited as a reason to appoint Kean in Allardyce's stead has rarely been evident in the Scot's stewardship, but this was a day for a pragmatic appreciation of the result.

"Today it wasn't a want for the points, it was a need which is a very different emotion," Kean added. "You could feel it in the dressing-room. It was an outstanding professional performance. We performed with spirit and togetherness."

Their battling qualities were more obvious than their footballing prowess.

Wanderers' response to the goal was muted, a 10th defeat in 11 away league games always likely. "I feel we are a far better team than what we showed," said manager Owen Coyle. That matters little to Blackburn: two more points and they remain a Premier League team.

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