Blackburn remain top of the Championship, but the position their manager Steve Kean finds himself in looks increasingly shaky after defeat against Middlesbrough meant he failed to hit the owners' target of 16 points from the opening seven games – a fact that will doubtless be thrown at him in the coming days. As Rovers were being easily beaten the familiar song of "Kean out" became more frequent and more vitriolic.
This was not a reaction to a first home defeat of the season, nor to the ineptness of a toothless Rovers side, but a hallmark of the crisis at the heart of the club. Kean, defiant as ever, spoke afterwards of averaging two points a game, even venturing a prediction that they could finish up as champions.
"We're frustrated we've lost the unbeaten run," he said. "Performances will improve. The fans want to see us promoted and if we keep going on in this vain we will do. I believe we will get promotion – we have as good enough group. Would we have taken this amount of points at this stage? Yes. We are on track."
Tony Mowbray's Middlesbrough had failed to pick up a single point away from the Riverside so far this season but were bright throughout, nudging ahead within seven minutes. Gaël Givet was caught the wrong side of Lucas Jutkiewicz – the striker latching onto Marvin Emnes' throughball to beat Paul Robinson at his near post with a smart drive.
Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu failed to exude any sort of control with Rovers one-paced and lacking ideas. After a number of misplaced passes, Murphy bore the brunt of the fans' spleen.
The second goal came shortly after the hour mark when Mustapha Carayol floated a ball across, Grant Hanley allowed Jutkiewicz room to power a header impressively into the net. Hanley atoned for his earlier error by scoring late on to set up a tense finish but they could not force another.
Top they may be, but it was business as usual at an Ewood Park full of resentment and anger, ending in jeers and boos. Given the low gates Blackburn are averaging, the hand of Venky's could be forced sooner rather than later.
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Robinson; Orr, Givet, Dann, Ribeiro (Formica, h-t); Nunes, Murphy, Etuhu, Olsson (Hanley, 48); Gomes, Rhodes.
Substitutes not used Kean, Lowe, Dunn, Pedersen, Rochina.
Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Steele; Hoyte, Woodgate (Hines, 84), Bikey, Friend; McEachran, Leadbitter (Bailey, 88), Thomson, Carayol (Zammama, 88); Emnes, Jutkiewicz.
Substitutes not used Leutwiler, Ledsema, Arca, Williams.
Referee C Pawson (South Yorkshire).Reuse content