Wednesday 29 January 2020

Kean nears end game as Bolton gain respite

Blackburn Rovers fans hold a banner calling for the manager Steve Kean to go
Blackburn Rovers fans hold a banner calling for the manager Steve Kean to go

Blackburn Rvs 1 Bolton Wnds 2 Henry Winter

For Steve Kean, the mutiny. For Owen Coyle, the bounty. On an extraordinary, thunderous night at Ewood Park, Blackburn Rovers fans rebelled en masse against their manager, Kean, calling for Mark Hughes to be appointed.

Bolton fans were simply singing Coyle's praises after a priceless win.

The vilification of Kean began early and rarely ebbed, continuing after the final whistle. Confined to areas of the ground in recent games, this was brutal, end-to-end abuse. From all corners of the ground, the derision was targeted at the dugout. Most alarmingly for the owners, the fans also turned on them, chanting "we want Venky's out". Today's board meeting with Kean should be interesting.

In fairness to Kean, he never hid. He stood on the touchline, enduring all manner of abuse, a man with hardly a friend in the building.


Some of his players fought for him, the likes of Junior Hoilett impressing in the second half while Christopher Samba gave everything as usual.

Absentees had hit Rovers hard, losing Gael Givet to a heart operation and Scott Dann to a ruptured testicle. Also absent were belief and leadership in the first half. Not until Hoilett began running at Bolton, breathing some hope on the Blackburn End, did Rovers show any signs of life.

Until then it had been endlessly grim for Kean. The derision from the terraces began to flow within minutes. Rovers had endured the worst of starts. Samba, usually so reliable, erred in attempting to clear and Bolton seized their chance. David N'Gog found Mark Davies and the midfielder calmly slotted the ball past Paul Robinson.

The chants were endless. "Stand up if you hate Kean,'' "we want Kean out," "getting sacked in the morning" to the poignant "there's only one Jack Walker". Rovers' much-loved, much-missed benefactor embodied all the organisation and leadership lacked by the current owners, Venky's.

Bolton fans were loving it, taunting the hosts with chants of "we love you Venky's" and "there's only one Keano". Their noise doubled when Nigel Reo-Coker struck. It was hardly the most beautiful of goals, Martin Petrov's ball diverting to Reo-Coker, but it must have sounded like a death-knell for Kean. The abuse rolled down in waves.

Not until the second period could any conviction be seen in Rovers' movements, notably from the flying feet of Hoilett, who refused to believe the game was over. The winger was magnificent, running at Bolton's backpeddalling defenders time and again.

Blackburn increasingly saw more of the ball, although Bolton still threatened on the break, and Ivan Klasnic should have made it 3-0 but dithered.

A lifeline appeared to be thrown Kean's way when Yakubu scored. The goal was made by Hoilett, who embarked on another run before releasing Yakubu. So prolific of late, Yakubu made no mistake, guiding the ball emphatically past Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Hoilett kept running down the left, drilling in a magnificent cross with seven minutes remaining. Yakubu proved a muscular targetman.

Bolton needed someone to ease the pressure. Reo-Coker stood up to be counted, heading off on a long dribble stopped by David Dunn's foul. As the clock ran down, Bolton attempted to keep the ball down in front of their fans, who were going through their songs of praise to the players.

Yet still Rovers attacked, still screamed against the fading of the light. Their fans still backed the team, slating the officials when any decision went against them.

Still Dunn tried to find a gap, lifting in a cross that Jaaskelainen dealt with easily. Hoilett again provided a beacon of light, again Bolton should have made it 3-1 in the final minute of added time when Darren Pratley missed.

And as the fans were beginning to leave, Samba headed just wide. Kean held his head in his hands. Moments later, the final whistle went which must have sounded like the Last Post to Kean.

Behind him, Coyle was out on the pitch, shaking hands with his victorious players before saluting the fans. "Owen Coyle, he gets the ball and scores a goal,'' sang the fans. He also gets them points, the bounty. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Ireland's Six Nations target, a French revival and Ian Madigan's future

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport