Belfast Telegraph

It all points to a Steve Kean exit at Blackburn

By Simon Stone

Blackburn boss Steve Kean insists he will not turn his back on the fight even though his fate may already have been sealed.

Although tonight's Premier League basement battle with rock bottom Bolton at Ewood Park has been billed as do-or-die for Kean and opposite number Owen Coyle, the Scots do appear to be in contrasting positions.

Coyle is under pressure but it is not believed his job is under imminent threat.

Kean on the other hand appears to have reached the point of no return.

The Scot faced the media yesterday with his young son in attendance.

It can hardly have been a pleasant experience for the lad given his father was grilled repeatedly about Blackburn's plight, second bottom with 10 points, and the banner headlines in the local paper demanding that he is sacked immediately.

There was even talk of a Roy Hodgson-like situation, recalling the former Liverpool boss gave a pre-match briefing to the Reds' in-house channel prior to an FA Cup trip to Manchester United in January, only to be ousted before the game actually took place.

Yet, for all Kean's faults, evidently he has not lacking in mental fortitude.

"I would never back away," he said. "When we win I come up and answer questions. If we lose or draw it is not something I would ever run away from. You have to face up to the responsibility.

"People deserve that respect. It doesn't keep me awake at night but it is a difficult situation.

"I won't turn my back on it though. I think we can get through it and when we do I will know how tough it has been and be determined not to go there again."

Although Kean's exit has felt imminent virtually from the moment he replaced Sam Allardyce 12 months ago, Blackburn's owners, Venky's, have repeatedly opted against pulling the trigger.

Defeat tonight would surely bring the curtain down on the 44-year-old's reign, which has proved to be so unpopular with the Blackburn supporters, yet even that may not be enough amid talk of high-level discussions at Rovers over Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to West Brom.

Kean confirmed he did speak to the Blackburn management team on Sunday, although the only guidance to his future was positive.

Kean must have one last effort at galvanising a group of players that, on paper, seem to be a cut above Bolton.

As the games after tonight are trips to Liverpool on Boxing Day and Manchester United on New Year's Eve, it seems like an impossible dream.

Belfast Telegraph


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