Kean adamant he can turn tide but time is running out
Stoke City 3 Blackburn Rovers 1
The Britannia Stadium
Monday 28 November 2011
For Steve Kean very soon the talking will have to stop. Once more he stood in a corridor – this one belonged to Stoke City – and defended his record. He said he would watch this latest defeat four times over the weekend, starting on the bus as Blackburn's players trawled back up the M6 towards a stadium where he is, from the stands at least, genuinely loathed.
He would have noticed how little possession Blackburn enjoyed. No team this season has had less of the ball at the Britannia Stadium. He would have noted that, instead of the 10 shots on target he claimed for his side, Blackburn in fact had six – a statistic Sky Sports kept repeatedly trying to correct him on.
Most of all, he will see Blackburn repeatedly bottom of the Premier League. Since the division came into being, only four sides have made a worse start: Swindon in 1993, Manchester City in 1995, Sunderland in 2005 and Derby two years later. Needless to say, all were relegated, although Manchester City managed to cling on until the final day of the season.
"No team will be relegated this week, no team will win the championship this week," Kean retorted. "The stats can be turned around. There is still time."
In a sense he is right. If you examine the sides that have matched Blackburn's start of seven points from 13 games, some do pull through. Everton did it by replacing the ineffectual Mike Walker with Joe Royle, although, for obvious reasons, that is an example Kean is anxious to avoid. If there is a template, however, it has to be Dave Jones at Southampton, who had managed seven points by November 1998, but kept his job and steered his club to safety.
Although he rejected the suggestion, time is clearly running out. His freshly-signed contract may have increased his pay but it has made Kean easier to dismiss. Blackburn have a series of fixtures against clubs whom they might at the start of the season have been expected to beat. "The new contract shows that the owners want stability," he said, although Blackburn can no longer afford stability; they require dramatic, sustained acceleration.
One engine of survival is that Blackburn under Kean do deal in goals, and they went into this weekend having scored as many as Liverpool. "If we can get a back four together, and keep five or six clean sheets, then I'll be happy because that will be three points [every time]," he pointed out.
It was wonderful talk from a manager whose team has kept four clean sheets in nearly a year, but the bus and the video of another defeat was waiting and it had to stop.
Scorers: Stoke City Delap 28, Whelan 58, Crouch 72. Blackburn Rovers Rochina 86.
Substitutes: Stoke Whitehead (Pennant, 71), Jones (Crouch, 83). Blackburn Roberts 6 (Formica, 68).
Man of the match Rochina.
Match rating 6/10.
Possession: Stoke 56% Blackburn 44%.
Attempts on target: Stoke 3 Blackburn 6.
Referee M Halsey (Lancashire).
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