Steve Kean did what he has always done in his tortured time at Blackburn. With bleeding fingernails, he clung on. Not all managers who relegate their clubs are sacked but it is an immutable law of football that those who then fail to take them back up are finished.
'Promotion' was the first word in Kean's programme notes and the club's owners, Venky's are believed to have set him a target of 16 points from his opening seven fixtures. But for Colin Kazim-Richards's second goal in as many matches, he would have had to win the lot.
If the winner against a limited Hull side, featuring five defenders, was somewhat fortunate – a wild volley from Marcus Olsson that was cleared straight to the striker – his celebrations, featuring a bare-chested karate kick against the corner flag, was almost worth the price of admission.
Significantly, few had paid and the attendance of 13,562 was the lowest for a league game at Ewood Park for nearly 20 years and most still demanded the dismissal of their manager. That statistic may in the long run be as important as the scoreline. The chants of "Kean Out" began early but the lack of a crowd meant they echoed rather than seethed around Ewood Park. The stadium looked emptier and angrier than Bolton's on Tuesday night but the boos at half time were the same.
They would have been heard by Venkatesh and Balaji Rao. The latter is believed to be the most adamant of the three who run Venky's that Kean has to be removed and nothing he saw in a dismal first hour would have dissuaded him from that view.
For all the abuse that has come their way, the club's Indian owners spent the summer making several positive moves from putting a photograph of Jack Walker, the builder of the modern Blackburn Rovers, in the programme to bringing in the one-time Malaysian international and commentator, Shebby Singh, to address the club's chronic inability to communicate.
More significantly, they have finally spent on the likes of Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu and Colin Kazim-Richards while using Kean's contacts in Portugal, where he once played, to bring in Nuno Gomes. A third attempt to sign Huddersfield striker, Jordan Rhodes, was last night rejected.
Gomes, the 36-year-old idol of Benfica, was, however, dropped after the opening game at Ipswich was marred by a late own-goal, which might be a metaphor for the Kean experiment. Kazim-Richards threatened early but Hull had little difficulty with some increasingly aimless moves.
And but for a smart two-handed save from Paul Robinson, who was persuaded to remain at Ewood Park rather than keep goal in Turkey, they might have taken the lead before the interval. Then, the lack of spectators would not have mattered. They would have heard the jeers in Yorkshire.
Blackburn Rovers (4-3-2-1): Robinson; Orr, Dann, Givet, Olsson; Lowe, Etuhu, Murphy; Dunn (Ribeiro 62), Nunes (Gomes 62); Kazim-Richards (Pedersen 85). Substitutes not used Kean (g), Jorge, Edinho, Hanley.
Hull City (3-5-2): Amos; Chester, Faye, Bruce; Rosenior (McLean 87), Evans (Cairney 73), McKenna (Simpson 84), Koren, Dudgeon; Proschwitz, Aluko. Substitutes not used Oxley (g), Stewart, McShane, Olofinjana.
Referee T Bates (Staffordshire).Reuse content