Belfast Telegraph

Kean looks safe as Blackburn owners Venky's cannot afford to sack him

By Ian Herbert

Steve Kean's position as Blackburn Rovers manager appeared to be safe last night, with the club's matriarchal owner Anuradha Desai apparently of the view that she cannot afford to sack him.

Though a Rovers board meeting on Wednesday was unanimous in the need to replace Kean, Desai finds herself bound by the terms of the new £1.5m-a-year deal she awarded Kean last month. The cost of paying the Scotsman off, as well as the outlay on hiring a new manager and equipping him with players, seems to be prohibitive for the club's Indian owners, who appear to have limited cash to throw at the campaign for Premier League survival.

The Venky's group's lack of expertise also seems to be contributing to uncertainty as to how to deal with the disastrous position in which the club finds itself. Kean returns to Lancashire for a scheduled early-morning press conference today, having spent yesterday with his family in Surrey, and is likely to remain as bullish as ever about the prospects of rectifying a grave Premier League position. Money may not be the only factor sparing Kean from the sack. Desai's own cordial relationship with the manager, who has been willing to jet out to India to meet her on a monthly basis, may also be contributing to her willingness to allow him an extended stay of execution. Rovers will also find it difficult to get anyone in to rescue a position, with seemingly minimal resources to invest in squad strengthening next month. The prospect of facing Liverpool on Boxing Day and Manchester United on New Year's Eve makes the role even less enticing.

The Everton manager, David Moyes, who was at Ewood Park to watch Rovers' 2-1 defeat by Bolton Wanderers, has called the treatment of Kean by home supporters "disgusting" and revealed he walked out in protest at the abuse Kean was receiving.

"I walked out at half-time," Moyes said. "I couldn't believe the criticism they gave their manager. If they had supported the team as well as they had shouted at their manager I think the team might have got a result in the game. I am a football manager and it could quite easily happen to me. I was disgusted with how football supporters treated Steve. The only way I could show it was by leaving at half-time."

Moyes believes it is time that Venky's clarified the club's situation. "Steve stood on the touchline the whole night and took the barracking, never hid from it," he said. "He was big enough to stand there and take it and that says a lot about him. But sometimes on these occasions the owners need to step forward and be seen; come out and tell people what is happening so the supporters are aware of it. But the supporters were there. It was a big game for Blackburn and Bolton. The Bolton supporters got behind their manager and team. If Blackburn had done that it may have helped."

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