Blackburn manager Steve Kean has raised the stakes in his battle to silence his vitriolic detractors by denouncing some of those Rovers fans gunning for his dismissal as "not true supporters".
Kean has until now held back from entering a war of words with his critics but, after calling for a truce ahead of today's home match against Stoke, he hit back at any Blackburn followers who might have been hoping for a defeat at Old Trafford to further their campaign for his removal.
"I wouldn't class anyone who comes to any game wanting to see us lose as a supporter," he said. "We are in the wrong place in the table but we ask the fans to support us through it. No true supporter would want to see us get relegated."
Kean also warned his most venomous critics to consider the impact the atmosphere at Ewood Park, which reached a new low during recent home defeats to West Bromwich and neighbours Bolton, would have on young players.
"I have five or six players who are under 25 and if they feel a negative vibe around the ground it can get to them," he said. "The senior players have been round the block and can block it out, but I hope the fans realise our younger ones are a little bit fragile and get behind us."
Nonetheless, Kean is only too aware that, despite the merits of Saturday's victory, he has won only eight from 39 Premier League matches since succeeding Sam Allardyce just over 12 months ago. After one match as caretaker, his reign began with a home defeat to Stoke on Boxing Day 2010 and a similar outcome today could see hostilities quickly resume.
"After the West Brom and Bolton games, nobody gave us a chance at Anfield and here, but we have managed to rally round and the side have thoroughly deserved this result and the point at Anfield," Kean said.
"But they will count for little if we don't follow them up in our home games against Stoke and Fulham."Reuse content