by Liam McConville
After a tumultuous season it appears safe to say that Blackburn Rovers will be relegated from the top flight. This will come as no great surprise to many including the disgruntled Ewood Park faithful who have been vocal critics of their manager, beleaguered Steve Kean and their owners the much maligned Venkys. Although the Rovers are three points adrift with two games to go, they have to play two of the most in-form sides in the league in Wigan and Chelsea. Given Blackburn’s own dismal form and poor goal difference, their survival prospects look about as bright as Stacey Solomon.
The feeble way that Blackburn lost at White Hart Lane was painful to watch and must have been particularly excruciating to any unfortunate Rovers fan at the game. Kean’s charges became the first side to not even muster a single shot on goal in the Premier League since 2004. That stat is a truly damning indictment for a side supposedly fighting for survival so close to the end of the season. Blackburn has got a decent squad with Junior Hoilett looking like an outstanding prospect who will surely move on this summer. Yakubu is an accomplished forward with seventeen goals this season which is a great return for a struggling side. With this in mind and the desperate need for points it makes Blackburn’s negative tactics yesterday even more baffling.
However is Kean really to blame for Blackburn’s plight? Although the Scotsman is completely out of his depth it is nothing compared to those who employ him and it’s the Venkys who should take the brunt of the blame. The Venkys have become a joke figure throughout the country and look to be a great example of how not to run a football club. They have taken a solid mid-table side and run them into the ground in less than eighteen months. The Rao family who make up the Venkys promised Ronaldinho and have delivered trips to the likes of Barnsley instead. In sacking the experienced Sam Allardyce and replacing him with his assistant Kean, they got off to a bad start which they have not recovered from. You cannot blame Kean for taking the job and he has cut a lonely figure at times but ultimately the truth is he has not been good enough.
I was particularly irritated by many Blackburn fans and their conduct over the season, the constant booing and protests have surely upset the players as their manager faced a torrent of abuse at every home game. Fans have the right to protest but surely it has to be done at the right time and ultimately not to the detriment of the team. Personal attacks on Steve Kean were a step too far and meant that Rovers fans weren’t afforded much sympathy. However with the end now nigh it is hard not to feel sorry for the hard-core support if not for the boo boys who only went to the ground to hurl abuse.
There are certainly parallels between this Blackburn side and Avram Grant’s West Ham that were relegated last year. Both teams tread water all season with managers looking completely hapless for the majority of the time. Like Grant just as the pressure seemed to be getting unbearable, Kean has managed to get a result that kept his job. However like West Ham, Blackburn’s form has completely deserted them with a run of five successive defeats prior to the win over Norwich looking particularly damaging. Finally like West Ham, Rovers could see their inevitable relegation confirmed by Wigan next week.
Blackburn are one of only four teams to win the Premier League (possibly five if Manchester City can overhaul Manchester United) so it will be a shame to see them plying their trade in the Championship next year. However the club only have themselves to blame as the Venkys truly have been architects of their own downfall. Given Blackburn’s relatively small fanbase and incompetent owners it might be a long time before they’re back.