Alex Ferguson believes Blackburn fans will be regretting anti-Steve Kean protests

 

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Blackburn's fans must be regretting their vitriolic attacks on manager Steve Kean.

The Rovers manager has come in for some fearful stick at times this season.

David Moyes walked out of a pre-Christmas encounter with Bolton so disgusted was he at the treatment being meted out to his fellow Scot.

At that point, Kean's departure seemed inevitable.

Amazingly though, he not only stayed but prospered.

Not even the loss of skipper Christopher Samba has halted recent progress and of the five teams who have been sucked into the relegation scrap, Blackburn look most likely to survive.

"I am sure a lot of them are saying to themselves 'I wish I hadn't done that'," said Ferguson of the Blackburn fans.

"Things can change. You have to dig in and not let it get to you.

"Now no-one is talking about fans having protest marches.

"He has held his dignity very well and deserves 100% praise from everyone, including his own supporters.

"He has shown his mettle in times when it was difficult for him."

Improvement came immediately after that Bolton debacle, when Rovers followed up a draw at Liverpool by beating United at Old Trafford.

It was one of the most remarkable results in a season littered with staggering scorelines and is part of an impressive overall Blackburn record against United.

Indeed, United make the short journey up the M61 on Monday looking to improve a woeful return of just two wins on their last 11 visits, even if the latest failure was a triumphant one as Wayne Rooney's penalty in May earned the point that clinched a record 19th title.

Nevertheless, it is a strange statistic and one that contrasts sharply with their return against other derby foes, Wigan and Bolton.

"I couldn't answer why," said Ferguson.

"When Blackburn score first they make it difficult for you, so maybe the answer is to make sure we keep our noses in front."

In theory, United's chances of victory are assisted by having a clear week to prepare.

Other than the Easter programme it will be that way for the remainder of the campaign now all interest in cup competitions has come to an end.

But Ferguson does not feel comfortable with that.

Having watched Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich claim Champions League wins in midweek and a fascinating duel between Barcelona and AC Milan, he knows what he would prefer.

"We have been used to playing midweek games for so long that you do miss it," said the United boss.

"The players miss it too. Yes, we do get freshness but you can't have it all ways. We would rather be in the Champions League."

Ferguson has confirmed he will be selecting from the same squad that contested the nervy draw with Fulham as Rio Ferdinand has recovered from the back problem that triggered his early exit and Nani is still to return to training after missing four games with an ankle injury.

The aftermath of that 1-0 win has centred around the failure of referee Michael Oliver to award a penalty for Michael Carrick's clumsy last-minute challenge on Danny Murphy.

Patrick Vieira has tried to limit the fall-out from his controversial accusation yesterday that United benefited from major decisions.

Ferguson seemed to take that into account with his measured response, which contrasted sharply to the blistering volley of last week after Vieira's initial claim that Paul Scholes' abandoned retirement smacked of desperation.

"From the referee's position, I can see why he didn't give a penalty when Danny Murphy was brought down," said the Scot.

"The ball moved to the angle as Michael Carrick challenged him. From that position, it wasn't clear.

"It was a good claim but you could go through millions of things like that. City could have had a penalty against them at Stoke for a foul by Gareth Barry.

"Every club gets breaks here and there, you get good ones and bad ones.

"It evens itself out over the season, that will never change."

PA

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