Date: 8th May 2012 at 11:20am
Written by:

‘Judge me after so many games’, ‘Judge me at the end of the season’, ‘Judge me after pre-season’, ‘Judge me after transfers’ – all these things and more have been said by Steve Kean throughout his disastrous, and as yet, still ongoing, tenure at the helm of Blackburn Rovers.

This is ultimately what the whole fan anger boils down to, both at Kean and Venky’s and no matter how much you spin it this time Steve there are no positives.

For the neutral, last night, sat in some pub having a beer, or at home watching the TV, in some part of England’s green and pleasant lands, you may want to call Rovers fans a ‘disgrace’, tweet #SupportYourTeam as fast as your nimble fingers can type them, or comment in bewilderment at why the fans, at such a crucial game seem to be so angry.

But the fact is, you, dear reader, as a neutral, simply have other things to concern you rather than our club, and when put face to face with the dire situation encompassing Blackburn Rovers, you honestly cannot comprehend the events that have unfolded at Ewood Park in just a mere 18 months.

And if you did, you surely wouldn’t want this to happen to your club.

Steve Kean has just 13 wins in 58 games, his win percentage is dire (22.4%), and he has dragged Blackburn into a relegation mire twice in his two seasons as manager, and for this season, his first where he has been fully in charge from start to finish, he has taken us down.

You wouldn’t want this to happen to your club.

Irrespective of how good a coach he may be, demonstrably and based on empirical evidence, he is awful as a manager. His game setup and substitutions have showed a level of tactical ineptitude bordering on the imbecilic.

Venky’s, those other villains of the piece, said when he was given the post full time that they believed in his vision.

Vision, it appears, is nothing without the skill and talent to see that vision through.

His continued tenure at the club seems unassailable, yet his record is nearing inclusion with that select group of ‘Worst Managers in English football in modern times’.

For dragging us into a relegation struggle

Last season, he was given a new contract and the fact that he will likely pick up another wage slip rather than a P45 next week, baffles most fans whether they support Rovers as their team or not. Failure it seems is an outcome that is due some form of reward.

You wouldn’t want this to happen to your club.

Venky’s on the other hand, whilst their supposed prize investment being relegated to the Championship is surely not the greatest of PR sound bites, are poised to make happen that most miraculous of things in sport – make money out of football.

We have players frozen out of the team simply because to play one more game would make them eligible for a new contract, or false stories about injuries sent out by the club to cover up that the club will not pay them for any more appearances.

We have experienced players (read: the high earners) put up for sale or even released to cut costs. Young players are put in to replace the experienced ones by manipulating their desire and vigour for first team football.

The off shoot of which, is a player on half the wages or less than their previous counterpart. And at the end of it all, we have the parachute payments. Do you really think that any of that money will be reinvested into the team?

You wouldn’t want this to happen to your club.

And at the same time, we have a club hollow from the board down, a deputy chief executive who is a deputy to no-one, the only club that I know of that are run near exclusively from abroad, a manager that is commanded to make a nine hour flight to Pune every month.

A club taken from being considered as one of the most well run clubs in the Premiership, able to live within their means no matter how restrictive that became towards the end of the Walker Trust tenure, to one where an experienced and established manager is sacked and an inexperienced unknown is put in his place.

And one of the best Chief Execs in the game is essentially manoeuvred into an untenable position. A club with a PR machine that only seems to put the full effort in when trying to discredit fans and blame them for the clubs problems – alleged ‘sources’ leaking to the national media that the manager was attacked at the club training ground last week, when Kean himself refuted the claim, is just one of many examples.

You wouldn’t want this to happen to your club.

And then there’s the players, who most pundits and media outlets, sympathetic with Kean’s so-called ‘plight’, will want to shift the blame onto… well, other than onto the fans of course. A squad, bereft of fit players, laid waste to by injuries both fake and real. A squad where experienced players that could guide the rest of the team are let go or frozen out.

A squad with a complete lack of any real commander on the pitch since January. A squad where a handful of kids are brought into the team and just expected to slot right in with little to no support. A squad with a near singular reliance on one player to provide free kicks and set up set-pieces. A squad where there appears to be a ridiculous continuance to rely on players in bad spells rather than rest them, so their confidence gets shot to hell and back.

Changes of formations yet not enough strength or firepower to support the chosen formation, or looking to use a fluid formation that ends up with no one knowing where they’re supposed to be or being able to retain any kind of shape.

Now you might think I want to blame the players, but all these things were the consequences of decisions taken by either Kean or Venky’s. Kean is not a victim here, he cannot complain about lack of funds, when he decides to take off our leading goal scorer, for an untested and unproven Modeste, during the game with Tottenham.

Or when he decided to continue with the formation in the same game when it clearly wasn’t working, or to not put N’Zonzi on last night, instead preferring Petrovic, who although he has shown a little promise and tentative, though short moments of good play this season, has been almost universally ponderous in getting into the flow of a game.

Remember Steve, that when you look back at last night’s ‘performance’ and you see Modeste having a 50-50 chance of mis-hitting every ball, or see Petrovic not make a pass, or fail to make that urgent run, or clatter clumsily into an opposing player, they were your signings, you believed they were of the correct quality and character for the Premier League.

You wouldn’t want this to happen to your club.

For the majority of the Rovers fans last night, relegation wasn’t a possibility last night; it was a mere formality of an outcome we had near certainty of at the end of the January transfer window. We had real and valid worries relegation would happen with the Bolton match around Christmas. By the 1st of February with another window of little investment. No matter how supportive of the team and club a Rovers fan may be, every fan, when they sat down and thought about it, felt the sick feeling of relegation marching inexorably towards them.

We’ve not had to deal with the threat of relegation for a few days or weeks or months – we’ve seen it all season. There was no shock, no denial last night, just pain and anger, and that pain and anger started months ago, not at the final whistle in what is likely to be our last home game in the top tier for a long time to come.

You wouldn’t want this to happen to your club.

For all those who called us out for not supporting the team, remember Hicks and Gillett, the free fall of Portsmouth, the demonstrations against the Glazers and Mike Ashley.

For all of the above, we didn’t want this to happen to our club.

But it did.

And unfortunately, the malaise is likely to continue unabated whilst Kean is in charge of the team and Venky’s are in charge of the club.

To the neutrals complaining about our fans, deeming to somehow call it necessary to call us ‘thugs’ or a ‘disgrace’, and somehow thinking it necessary to tell us to support our team, remember there has been no burning of flags, like against Hicks and Gillett, no throwing effigies of our owners or manager onto a bonfire – there was a man who made a symbolic gesture of throwing his season ticket down in the technical area in disgust.

And there were a number of kids, who were probably experiencing their first taste of relegation, as well as fans who’ve supported the club for 20 or 30 years, who went on that pitch after the full time whistle, and they shook Paul Robinson’s hand – our captain – and offered him and by proxy the team their full and honest support.

And so to Kean and Venkys, there is no more goodwill left, there will be no support, no more chances, no stays of judgement – You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting.

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