Blackburn's Steve Kean edges nearer the sack after defeat to Bolton

Steve Kean, the beleaguered Blackburn Rovers manager, is likely to be dismissed following defeat to Bolton that leaves his side bottom of the Premier League.

Although Kean said he would be "shocked" if he were sacked after a year and 38 games in charge, the club's owners, Venky's are believed to have begun the search for a replacement already.

Demonstrations against Kean that have been going on for three months at Ewood Park reached a new pitch of intensity after a 2-1 defeat by Bolton, who, before last night, occupied the Premier League's bottom spot. The Bolton manager, Owen Coyle, said the only previous time he had seen such hostility directed at a manager was when he had taken Burnley to Blackburn for the east Lancashire derby and accused the home fans of never allowing Kean an opportunity to prove his worth. Should he be forced to find another club, the Bolton manager said he was confident Kean would shine.

"I don't think they have given Stevie Kean a chance from the outset when he was appointed," said Coyle. "Ultimately, people who shout the loudest get heard. Stevie Kean is a terrific coach, he is managing in the best league in the world and somebody has to fill the dreaded bottom places. He has injuries that are uncontrollable, he is a genuinely nice person and given time and opportunity he will prove himself."

However, Kean said he expected to be in charge of the Boxing Day fixture against Liverpool at Anfield and denied there was a board meeting at which his fate would be decided.

"Yes, it would be a shock if I were dismissed," he said. "I believe I should be given more time and that belief comes from the fact that we have a lot of defenders who are injured and I would hope the fans could see that. When I can get a proper defence together I am sure we will be more competitive."

Nevertheless, Blackburn's MP, Jack Straw, joined the crescendo of calls for his dismissal, accusing Venky's of completely mismanaging affairs at Ewood Park. "I am afraid that whatever talents Mr Kean may or may not have had, he simply can't turn this around," he said in an interview with TalkSport. "I've held back from saying there ought to be a change of management because you have to give managers a chance to see their strategy through, but I think Mr Kean has had that."

He added: "What makes this crisis so dreadful is not only that there's no confidence in the manager but because Venky's have been so distant, and there are such long lines of decision-making back to them that this has given a sense of detachment and led to the idea, which I'm afraid is accurate, that the club is not being properly led."

When asked if he had a message for Venky's, Straw said: "It would be to get on an aeroplane, come to Blackburn and sort this out."

Powered by article was written by Tim Rich at Ewood Park, for The Guardian on Wednesday 21st December 2011 00.20 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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