Alex Chick

Brave Kean has come up short

You have to admire Steve Kean.

Minutes after seeing his Blackburn side relegated, after enduring an hour and a half of chants baying for his dismissal, and getting bundled off the pitch to avoid an angry pitch invasion, Kean fronted up - as he has all season - and went through with his post-match interviews.

After a season of "taking the positives" from even the most dire performances, surely now we would get a more honest assessment of Rovers' season, and an acknowledgement that they have simply not been up to scratch. Wouldn't we?

Not a bit of it. After praising his team's performance, Kean talked about bouncing back to the top flight and promised to be "back to fight another day".

Good god, man, haven't you had enough?

Kean gets a decent press because of his remarkably stoic response to some fairly poisonous abuse from sections of the Blackburn crowd.

When a manager needs round-the-clock security protection and is afraid to take his family to games, it is fair to say things have got out of hand.

However, even if parts of the anti-Kean movement have taken things too far, it does not mean the majority of Rovers fans who want him gone should be ignored.

Sympathy is not a good enough reason to keep a manager.

I interviewed him at Blackburn's training complex a few weeks ago, the day after Wigan's victory at Arsenal plunged them deeper into relegation trouble.

He is impressive in person - a decent man with an obvious enthusiasm for coaching and a natural affinity for modern techniques.

Kean is confident, relentlessly positive and blessed with the sort of conviction that can sweep you along with him.

The only time in the interview he acknowledged the tidal wave of protest against his regime is when he described the atmosphere at home to Bolton as "not brilliant". Just great, then.

He is a persuasive man, and when he says these are exciting times for Blackburn, you almost start to believe him.

Kean's positivity is not an act, but it has served to enrage Rovers fans who only have to glance at the league table to find their rebuttal.

One man's determined is another's deluded.

However much goodwill we might have for Kean, however admirable his defiance and commitment, the results cannot be ignored.

Kean has not had it easy. Employed by erratic owners, Kean's job has looked increasingly like managing decline.

A succession of senior players have left the club, with youth teamers promoted to plug the gaps.

Of the 18 players in the squad that played Everton on the opening day of last season, 11 have moved on, including Phil Jones, Chris Samba, Ryan Nelsen, Keith Andrews and Brett Emerton.

It is easy to be upbeat about young players - all that local talent, that potential, that scope for improvement.

But, just like older players, not all youngsters are as good as each other.

The likes of Jason Lowe and Grant Hanley may develop into consistent performers, but a dismal defensive record of three clean sheets all season confirms they are not there yet.

Kean hardly set the world alight in the transfer market - of last season's acquisitions, only Yakubu Ayegbeni can be considered a success.

Scott Dann and Marcus Olsson have been middling, while David Goodwillie, Radosav Petrovic and Simon Vukcevic have made little impression.

For all his coaching credentials, Kean's tactics have been found wanting - such as at White Hart Lane last weekend when he left his side open to a barrage from the flanks.

And if you are embroiled in a relegation fight, you might not want to go two hours between shots on target.

Kean is fighting for his managerial future - if Blackburn cut the cord, clubs won't exactly queue around the block for him. So it should come as no surprise that he is clinging so tenaciously to his job.

Steve Kean has many skills, but the bare facts of his 17 months at Blackburn suggest that football management is not among them.

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Alex Chick - @alexchick81