Beleaguered Blackburn boss Steve Kean today intimated he would not feel safe meeting with fans of the club following treatment he described as "vicious" in Tuesday night's defeat to Bolton.
A situation that has been escalating throughout the season reached its nadir at Ewood Park as Rovers were beaten 2-1 by their local rivals and fellow strugglers to drop to the bottom of the Barclays Premier League table.
Kean has been a lightning rod for fans' frustration, not just with his own performance but also the role of Indian owners Venky's, and a small group took their protests to the club's training ground today.
Asked if he would consider meeting with those supporters, the Scot said: "I have to take direction from other people as far as health and safety and making sure if we do anything like that it's in a proper environment.
"At the game the other night it was pretty vicious so it would have to be in an environment where first and foremost it was safe."
Fans have complained about a perceived lack of communication from the club, but Kean insisted plans are in place to allow their grievances to be heard.
He said: "I spoke with the deputy chief executive and I think there was a plan where the directors first and foremost were going to meet with the fans. I don't know where that's at at the moment.
"I said I would be available. I've already met with the fans in my office and did a full, open podcast. I answered every single question they asked me.
"I'm always very open and honest with anything I'm asked."
Kean has been left increasingly isolated, with Venky's conspicuous by their absence at recent games while local MP Jack Straw and the Lancashire Telegraph have both called for the manager to go.
However, he did receive some welcome support from his fellow managers this week, with Sir Alex Ferguson, Harry Redknapp, Owen Coyle and David Moyes all condemning the situation.
Kean said: "My phone's been going hot all week with people phoning with messages saying 'Hang in there'.
"No disrespect to local MPs or local journalists or ex-players, but when you've got vastly experienced managers that are phoning up and saying under the circumstances you're doing a marvellous job, then I'll listen to them."
The home defeats to West Brom and Bolton have left Blackburn in a perilous position, and it does not get any easier for Kean with a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool on Boxing Day followed by another away game against Manchester United.
Rovers have also been hit hard by injuries, particularly in defence, with Scott Dann, Martin Olsson, Ryan Nelsen and Gael Givet all out.
Goalkeeper Paul Robinson is also a doubt for Monday's clash, although Kean is hoping he will be able to play despite a tear in his calf muscle, while Givet underwent a successful heart operation yesterday after suffering palpitations in the defeat at Sunderland earlier this month.
Kean called for fans to recognise his problems, saying: "I can understand if they're getting uptight about the position we're in. We're all uptight about it but we feel, with the right ability to select the squad, (that can improve).
"If five defenders are injured, there's nothing we can do about that. We're praying and hoping they get back as quickly as possible.
"Gael Givet's had a very successful heart operation and we expect him to be back in full training within a week.
"I would hope the fans can see that and understand that if any of those players were fit, they would play. We're playing players out of position and giving ourselves a bit of a mountain to climb.
"In the second half against Bolton I felt the players responded very well and, right with the very last header of the game, we were unfortunate Chris Samba couldn't clip it in."
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