Kean's endless optimism turns crisis into a farce

 

Steve Kean has grown used to the banners billowing from Ewood Park, the blimps soaring into the skies above the Ribble Valley. Still the Blackburn manager has done for his reign what Comical Ali did for the Iraq war: he has obfuscated and optimised, shrouded the truth in spin and statistics. There comes a point, though, where the truth is so blatant, so clear, that it cannot be denied. Bottom of the Premier League, only one win all season, no clean sheets: the tanks are rolling down the road.

Kean, needless to say, remains upbeat. He has all season. He has all year, since he first replaced Sam Allardyce, despite a complete absence of experience, almost 12 months ago. He has guaranteed Blackburn's fans that the club will not be relegated. Little more than a week ago, before drawing with Wigan, he insisted that he had a squad at his disposal capable of finishing in the top half of the Premier League.

"I don't look at this season in terms of trying to salvage something," he said. "I think we have a good enough squad to be in the top 10. If you look at this season and the way we're playing, we deserve more points, and that's coming from speaking to people like Harry [Redknapp]. He told me he felt we deserved a point when we lost to Tottenham.

"Andre Villas-Boas and John Terry also came in to see me after Chelsea beat us. They told us what a tough game we had given them and guys like Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard said the same thing. I don't think they say that week-in, week-out to other managers."

Football management, of course, is an occupation for optimists, but Kean's devout refusal even to acknowledge that all might not be going swimmingly in his first appointment brings to mind Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, the Iraqi Information Minister tasked with broadcasting the official line during the 2003 invasion. His insistence that Saddam Hussein's embattled regime was fending off the American advance, that there were no foreign troops in Baghdad even as a US tank rumbled past made him a cult figure in the west.

Like Comical Ali – or his literary precursor, Dr Pangloss in Voltaire's Candide – Kean is blessed with the ability to ignore the blindingly obvious. It is a fact, for example, that Blackburn have amassed an average of 0.85 points per game under Kean's redoubtable stewardship. It is the lowest of any manager in the division; it is more than comfortably relegation form. "I disagree," said the Scot, when that statistic was put to him after defeat at Stoke on Saturday.

That is the thing with the truth: it is malleable, manipulated. And so, even in defeat, Kean, like all great propagandists, can find a crumb of comfort. "If you look at the stats there are only three other teams in the Premier League that have got more points than ourselves from a losing position," he declared this week. It sounds like an achievement; in a sense, it probably is an achievement. It is, though, an entirely irrelevant one.

Not, though, to Kean's mind. After all, speaking earlier this season, the Scot dismissed the concept of points, league positions, and victories as "just one way of measuring progress". "There are others," he said. "Like the value of the squad." That, of course, will not keep Blackburn up. It may not even keep Kean in a job. The tanks are rolling down the road, and all is absolutely fine.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border