By Nick Harris
SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year
28 September 2012
Steve Kean’s managerial reign at Blackburn is over after the 44-year-old surprisingly resigned on Friday evening.
Nobody at the club was expecting the Scot to quit so suddenly and MD Derek Shaw, when told of the news, said he was unaware it had happened.
Kean said in a statement via his lawyers that he had been ‘forced’ to resign.
The statement said: “For reasons that 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 of Blackburn Rovers Football Club with immediate effect, due to my position as team manager becoming untenable.
“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.”
Speculation is rife over the timing of Kean’s departure, with the tone of his statement suggesting a claim for constructive dismissal could be on the cards. Any such claim could theoretically lead to a bigger pay-off than a payout for being sacked.
Blackburn’s long-suffering fans have been criticised in many quarters for their campaigning against Kean, which at times has reached vitriolic levels.
For their part, many fans feel Kean and his agent Jerome Anderson were in some way to blame for the removal of Kean’s predecessor, Sam Allardyce and for the fact that Kean (a manager with no Premier League managerial experience) replaced him and then produced much inferior on-pitch results.
Many of those same fans also feel Kean was disingenuous when claiming that a spiked drink (when drinking with fans) led to his arrest for drinking driving in May 2011; he was later convicted.
News of Kean’s arrest was first widely reported on 17 May 2011, exactly the same day that The Sun ran a big ‘bung’ allegation story about alleged irregular payments made to a contact of Sam Allardyce’s around Gael Givet’s transfer. The bung story massively overshadowed coverage of Kean’s drink driving. This might have been construed in some quarters as coincidentally very fortunate for Kean.
Kean’s apparently unrealistic views of Blackburn’s fortunes also rubbed fans up the wrong way. He predicted a top-10 finish and League Cup success in the pre-season tour for the 2011-12 campaign. Instead Blackburn went down. In the same pre-season drinking session with supporters, he also alleged Allardyce was crooked, which earned him and the club legal letters from Allardyce’s lawyers.
Blackburn’s signing of Anderson’s son, Myles, when Kean was manager, also raised eyebrows among fans, who believed Kean could be making decisions for other than pure footballing reasons. Anderson and Kean have both passionately insisted Myles Anderson can make it as top-flight player. Anderson Jnr is currently on loan at Aldershot in League Two.
As Sportingtelligence has documented, Rovers signed a number of players in Kean’s tenure that Kean had little or no involvement in signing. Yet he always publicly insisted the owners were brilliant and supportive, and that all the signings were his own. To fans who knew – or at least suspected – this wasn’t the case, Kean appeared to be a complicit puppet who was party to their club’s misfortunes.
For these reasons, Kean became a target of the fans’ ire – not least because the absent owners were not there to take the flak. Kean took it for them and kept his job until now by never once being critical of the owners in public.
The supporters will now wait to see who replaces Kean. For the moment, they see his removal as symbolic of a new era.
A statement from one campaigning fans’ group said: ‘The BRFC Action Group now wants to put all its energies in helping rebuild the family community club of just two years ago. Mistakes have been made and lessons need to be learned.
‘Since Shebby Singh’s appointment [as day-to-day de facto CEO], open and honest dialogue has been forthcoming and welcomed. He has taken the supporters un-diluted concerns directly to the owners and they have acted upon them. Now is the time for all supporters to unite, put their full support behind the manager’s replacement and the players and be the clubs 12th man in the quest for promotion.
‘If a club ever needed its supporters, it’s now. Together the owners, board, employees, the management, players and supporters can rebuild the institution to levels that are even better than ever before. One town, one club and one vision, with supporters shoulder to shoulder with their club’.