Kean set to move up the gears on 'cycle of change'

Blackburn 1 Bolton 0
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Setting aside the argument about the good and bad of foreign ownership that continues to rage around Ewood Park, it would be churlish not to applaud one man's triumph against the odds should Steve Kean's Blackburn Rovers avoid relegation to the Championship.

Kean's appointment in December, replacing a manager in Sam Allardyce who had seemed the perfect fit to keep Rovers safe, made jaws drop. Venky's, the poultry farmers who had just become the Premier League's first Indian proprietors, had supposedly wanted a manager – preferably English – with top-flight experience after sacking Allardyce. The Glaswegian Kean, though well regarded by his peers for his coaching skills, had none.

What's more, 43-year-old Kean – Allardyce's first-team coach – had been handed the reins against a backdrop of almost universal misgivings, in the boardroom, in the dressing room, and among fans over the dismissal of Allardyce. If ever a first job was doomed to failure, this was it.

Yet, after Saturday's victory over Bolton, the Lancashire neighbours that Allardyce established in the Premier League, Kean is probably only one more win away from securing Blackburn's status for another year. Should that come at West Ham next Saturday, his Sunday flight to India to deliver his next monthly owners' briefing will be his most relaxing yet.

"I've had a few more grey hairs so I've had to take the clippers down a notch to get rid of them," Kean joked after Martin Olsson's 20th-minute goal had proved enough against a Bolton side that looked to be winding down ahead of the summer break.

"There's pressure when you're not winning every week but this group of players will give us the points that I'm sure will be enough over the next couple of weeks.

"There's a cycle of change whenever a manager comes in. There's shock that someone else has lost their job, then you have guys that aren't in the team who are happy that there's a change, and guys that are in the team who might have a wobble because you've got different ideas.

"There's a cycle of change where we are trying to play slightly differently and mix it up a little bit more. I think we're coming out of that. It just takes time and we're nearly there."

Olsson, whose goal ended a three-month run of 10 matches without a win, tended to endorse Kean's management, although he chose his words carefully, with a nod towards his predecessor's unashamedly pragmatic approach.

"I've got nothing bad to say about Sam Allardyce," Olsson said. "Sam did a good job and brought things to the team but I think Steve Kean can do better or the same. Some managers need more time to build a team in their style. I think it's changed a bit already. Steve has given us young ones at least the chance to express ourselves even more.

"Hopefully that will work next season. But right now we have to take it one game at a time. Sometimes you can play all that fancy stuff but you just have to work hard, dig in and win games."

Booked: Blackburn P Jones, J Jones Bolton K Davies

Man of the match Olsson.

Referee M Dean (Cheshire)

Att 28,985.