David Dunn has seen many things in 11 seasons with his hometown club – relegation, promotion, a League Cup win – but reckons achieving survival this term would beat the lot, given the turmoil surrounding Blackburn.
"There just seems to be unrest everywhere you look," said the Rovers midfielder, who suggested in Saturday's programme notes that "it might require a helping hand from the big man upstairs" to save them. Yet it was less divine inspiration than some big performances from men down on the Ewood Park pitch that rekindled their survival hopes against Norwich City. With forwards Yakubu and Junior Hoilett shrugging off injuries to start, and Gaël Givet and Bradley Orr playing on after half-time painkilling injections, Blackburn's players showed a commitment to the cause that belied the off-field problems as they ended a run of five straight losses.
Blackburn manager Steve Kean said: "You have to show bravery, you have to show courage, you have to back each other up, like we did today. Probably more important, you have to show that you're a group of players who don't want to come off the pitch."
This on-field unity contrasted not only with the mood in the stands – on another afternoon of protests against club owners Venky's and Kean himself – but also in the previous weekend's surrender at Swansea when, in Kean's words, defender Givet was not in the right frame of mind to feature. On Saturday the Frenchman earned the sponsors' man-of-the-match award, though there were other strong candidates, notably Hoilett, who lit up the day with a spectacular second.
Blackburn, three points adrift in 18th, must still visit Tottenham and Chelsea while hosting Wigan yet Kean pointed to their New Year's Eve win at Old Trafford as reason to believe. "It gives you experience, it gives you belief that you can go to tough away grounds where nobody expects you to get something and you can do, if you have a good game plan and you have a good bunch – and I've got both." On Saturday, at least, this was the case.
Booked: Blackburn Dunn. Norwich Howson. Man of match Hoilett.
Referee K Friend (Leicestershire). Attendance 23,218.