Sad Samba spoils Kean's big day

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The Independent Online

Blackburn Rovers are aware of captain Chris Samba's unhappiness at the club since the sacking of manager Sam Allardyce and fear that there will be interest in the player from Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham next month. However, they have not yet received an official transfer request from the player.

There were reports yesterday that Samba was on the brink of making an official request to leave the club, although no such move has been made. The club's temporary manager Steve Kean, who yesterday was appointed until the end of the season, will speak to the squad today about the plans that the new owners the Rao family have for Rovers.

Kean visited India this week to meet with Anuradha Desai, the chairwoman of the Venky's Group which now owns Rovers. As for Samba, the club had been alerted to the fact that he was keen to leave before Allardyce's sacking. The player's agent is Kenny Shepherd, the son of Freddy, former owner of Newcastle United, who appointed Allardyce as manager there in 2007.

Kean's appointment could have Rovers fans scratching their heads. The club has fired the man who led them to a 10th-place finish last season and replaced him with someone who has no Premier League playing or management experience, the very two criteria stipulated by the owners in the search for a new manager. On the pitch Kean had spells at Celtic, Swansea, Academica Coimbra in Portugal and Bath City. As a coach, he was assistant to Chris Coleman at Fulham, Real Sociedad and Coventry City before Allardyce brought him to Ewood Park in August 2009.

A club statement released yesterday said: "Venky's London Limited – Blackburn Rovers – has decided to continue with Mr Steve Kean as manager, until the end of the season, June 2011." Bookmakers yesterday cut their odds on Rovers being relegated. Kean's first game as a manager was the 1-1 home draw with the bottom club West Ham United on Saturday, which left Blackburn in 12th, six points clear of 18th-placed Wigan Athletic.

Samba was quoted as saying this week: "If this is the way the club's going to be run from now on, I don't want to be part of it and I want to leave. As captain it's very difficult to say this but I've thought long and hard about it. Nobody in football understands the decision to sack Sam."

Allardyce himself has claimed his dismissal was prompted by malevolent advice received by Venky's. "Somebody somewhere has obviously said something derogatory to get me out of this job," he said. "That's the thing I want to find out. If I can, I will. If I can't, I'll just have to move on with my life."

The former Rovers manager also stated that his assistant, Neil McDonald, would have been a better choice than Kean as caretaker manager. "That was a stranger one for me," Allardyce said. "If there was anybody capable of looking after the reins, with all due respect to Steve, it would be Neil McDonald."

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