Thursday 23 November 2017

Kean facing Rovers chop


FOR Steve Kean and Owen Coyle, there may be only one game left, and tomorrow night's encounter between Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers will see two drowning men grasping for a single, fragile straw.

It was approaching 10.30 at night in Pune, India, when the final whistle went at Ewood Park as Paul Robinson abandoned his goal to dash forward in search of an equaliser -- as he had done in the desperate 3-3 draw at Wigan that represented another station of Kean's cross.

The greatest danger for the club's owners, Venky's, may not be if they lose tomorrow, but if they win. Defeat should have a single decisive outcome: dismissal and a new manager. Victory would be altogether more complex.

In those circumstances, a manager in whom few in the stadium -- from the dressing-rooms to the Ronnie Clayton End -- have any confidence will have to be backed through a Christmas programme that sees them travel to Anfield and Old Trafford with what should be predictable results.

Even Jason Roberts, who has been Kean's most public backer among the players, conceded that the constant protests were wearing the team down and dragging them under.

West Brom were vastly superior at Ewood Park and a more ruthless side might have won by a humbling margin. With 18 minutes to go, Scott Dann cancelled out James Morrison's 52nd-minute opener, but Peter Odemwingie snatched the win in the last minute with a fine effort.

Gritty Coyle keeps faith



It was going so well for Owen Coyle and Bolton Wanderers, until their FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium in April, when all hope of glory was extinguished in a haze of humiliation.

They have yet to recover, it would appear, from the numbing experience of their 5-0 defeat against Stoke City.

Since that day, Bolton have plummeted. From eighth place in the Premier League to a finish of 14th last season; from potential mid-table contenders this season to bottom-of-the-table scrappers.

Since their Wembley whipping, they have played 22 matches, winning four and losing 18. Coyle, the realist that he is, takes it on the chin.

He has enjoyed the good times since succeeding Gary Megson at the Reebok Stadium in January last year, first rescuing Bolton from the relegation mire and then leading them to the brink of a first FA Cup final in 53 years.

But he will front up during the bad times, too. He may feel the parochial pressure ahead of tomorrow's dust-up at Ewood Park, but he remains defiant.

"It's a horrible time now, but what I do know is that we will come through the other side. And it won't be for the lack of effort, that's for sure."

Yet the tame manner in which they lost to Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday -- a fifth successive defeat -- confirmed by goals, in the space of 66 first-half seconds, from Clint Dempsey and Bryan Ruiz, suggests real cause for concern on that front.

Irish Independent

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