Kean feels a chill wind after sub-zero beginning

Blackburn Rovers 0 Stoke City 2
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The Independent Football

The clamour for a winter break continues to grow and grow, particularly after the weather wrecked the Premier League fixture list in the North-west yesterday – and the 25,440 present at Ewood Park would have voted firmly in favour of the notion if it had been put to them at half-time.

It is fair to say that Steve Kean, the new Blackburn Rovers manager, would also have done the same had he known the final result as he oversaw perhaps the most dreadful Premier League performance by a side all season.

The chance to go home, put the feet up and consume a tipple or 12 – both to warm frozen hands and also blot out this shocker – must have been almost too tempting to resist. Roll on a winter hiatus if this dross continues, particularly after a first half that was as poor as it gets.

Apart from the clock ticking down, and an early Matthew Etherington effort that squirmed wide for the visitors, nothing else happened in the first half. Zilch. Zero.

It did get marginally better after the restart as Robert Huth outjumped a static Blackburn defence to head Etherington's corner past Paul Robinson before Marc Wilson's drilled effort sealed it in injury time.

Sam Allardyce, prior to his sacking last week and the subsequent installation of Kean until the end of the season, oversaw three consecutive home victories for Blackburn and lost just six Premier League games at Ewood Park in his two years in charge.

Those times already seem years ago after this occasion as Rovers showed no ambition and even less quality.

The likes of Chris Samba, Vince Grella, Phil Jones and Steven Nzonzi may all have been missing for Rovers, which offers some mitigation for this showing, but if Kean thought he had tasted pressure before this result he will learn a lot this coming week.

Samba had an ankle problem but has also been stripped of the captaincy after criticising the sacking of Allardyce. "He failed a fitness test at 12.30 but he would not have been captain because at the moment he's looking to get away from the club," Kean said, adding that he understood why a small section of fans chanted for his departure at the final whistle.

"It has to be expected that the fans will vent their feelings. There has been upheaval and things happening at the club, to say the least, and we have to be positive. I don't like to make excuses because that's not the way I am.

"If you look at who isn't available then it's difficult to get a balance in the middle of the pitch and everybody is under pressure when you lose games, but we will be trying to move forward and try and take the good bits out of the game."

That will not take long because there weren't any; not that Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, was bothered by that after his side recorded their third away win of the season.

"We are pleased because obviously the defeat against Blackpool was hard to take so it was important to bounce back," Pulis said. "We deserved to win."

Match facts

Subs: Blackburn Hoilett (Dunn, 65); Unused Bunn (gk), Linganzi, Morris, Diouf, Doran, Benjani. Stoke Whelan (Etherington, 74), Fuller (Pennant, 84), Wilson (Jones, 89); Unused Sorensen (gk), Higginbotham, Sanli, Gudjohnsen.

Booked: Blackburn Kalinic; Stoke Shawcross, Wilkinson, Pennant, Etherington.

Man of the match Huth.

Referee M Jones (Cheshire). Att 25,440.

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