Steve Kean resigned as the manager of Blackburn Rovers on Friday night after deciding his position had become "untenable" and he was in effect being "forced out". It is understood Venky's, the club's Indian owners, attempted to influence team selection ahead of Saturday's trip to Charlton.
Kean had been in charge at Ewood Park for almost two troubled years and his tenure was notable principally for regular protests by disgruntled fans, disappointing results and relegation from the Premier League in May. While Tim Sherwood, a former Blackburn midfielder, now coaching at Spurs, has been installed as the favourite to succeed him, it would be a major surprise were Alan Shearer, another former Rover, to swap the BBC sofa for his old haunt. Kean's assistant, Eric Black, will be in charge at Charlton.
It did not help that Kean was regarded as a puppet of Venky's, which promoted him from a coaching role at the expense of the sacked Sam Allardyce in December 2010 shortly after buying Blackburn.
With the team third in the Championship it appears an unusual moment to quit but Kean, who was allowed to spend £8m on signing the striker Jordan Rhodes from Huddersfield last month, felt he had no alternative.
"For reasons I cannot discuss on legal advice, it is with deep regret, given my hard work and service for the club for a number of years that I have been forced to resign as manager with immediate effect due to my position as team manager becoming untenable," said Kean in a statement issued through his lawyers. "I wish to thank all the players and coaching staff for their great support and the majority of the fans, who now see their club heading towards an automatic promotion position back to the Premiership. I wish the club all the very best for the future."
If Kean's agent Jerome Anderson, head of the SEM group which advised Venky's on player recruitment, helped him secure the job, a friendship established between Anuradha Desai, the club's co-owner, and Kean's wife, Margaret, arguably helped keep him in it in the face of frequent supporter outrage.
Even so Blackburn's manager was forced to make monthly trips to Venky's base in the hills above Pune in India to discuss progress and events took a humiliating turn when Rovers appointed Shebby Singh as their global adviser. In August Singh apologised to the manager after saying Kean would be sacked if he lost three successive games.
Singh also said that Kean required 16 points from Blackburn's first seven games to survive. He secured 14 and earlier this week the global adviser said Kean's situation was deteriorating "by the day".
The club's managing director, Derek Shaw, said Venky's were "very disappointed" by Kean's resignation.
"It was completely unexpected. He travelled down with the team ahead of our game at Charlton but he must have been giving it an awful lot of thought owing to the pressure he's been under," Shaw said. "I have spoken with Anuradha Desai and she is very disappointed as she was close with Steve."
Claiming "liberation", the Blackburn Rovers Action Group were quick to respond to the news. Their secretary, Mark Fish, said: "I am delighted. It's been a long 12 months for all involved and I never thought I'd see the day when he went. The supporters are liberated and free of Steve Kean. I am just enjoying the fact that he has gone.
"He has treated the supporters with contempt. We've got 8,000 to 9,000 boycotting and empty seats are one thing he can't mask. I have longed for this."
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