In 1999, Brian Kidd coined the immortal phrase "rubber dinghy men" as he slated his Rovers side for their capitulation that saw them on the brink of relegation, slamming them as lacking leadership and responsibility. Kidd was angry with his subjects for their spiritlessness and lack of fight. Fast forward 12 years to Saturday and another Rovers boss beginning with the letter K could not accuse his team of capitulating in the same way.
The performance and endeavour was vastly superior at Craven Cottage to that of the soulless and clueless display at Villa Park, seven days earlier. Rovers deserved a point and would have achieved their aim had it not been for the ever shy and retiring Mark Clattenburg. It is not the first time that the Durham official has courted the limelight and deflected attention from the people we pay good money to watch and it certainly won't be the last.
Under presure Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean
There would have been few complaints from Rovers supporters if Clattenburg had awarded Andy Johnson a penalty in the passage of play preceeding the fateful decision and Steve Kean's very gracious concession that 'technically' he was correct in pointing to the spot does have some legitimacy. But all too often, we have seen paronoid officials get decisions horribly wrong only to compensate teams momments later with very 'soft' free kicks or pens.
But where does this latest setback leave Rovers and their ailing manager?
Despite the improved performance, there was a feeling of impending doom among the Rovers supporters (in the away and 'neutral' end) at the Cottage on Saturday. The atmosphere among the faithful did feel very much like that of the Spring of 1999 when Kidd's 'dinghy men' picked up just 10 points from the last 14 matches which opened the trap door into the Championship. Unfortunately for Steve Kean, there appears to be a sense of inevitability before a ball is kicked at the moment. The fans are scrutinising his selections with a fine tooth comb in order to find gaps in his logic.
I applaud the changes he made to the starting line up on Saturday but again found his substitutions baffling. If Santa Cruz was again injured like we are lead to believe then he did not warrant a place on the bench. Why did Kalinic not appear when we were chasing the game to replace the ever committed but largely ineffective Jason Roberts? There is also the massive headache of a defence which has conceded 11 goals in 3 games away from home against average opposition. Chris Samba looks a shadow of the player we have come to know and Gael Givet's enforced absence will provide further sleepless nights for an under siege boss.
There has been much speculation over the last 24 hours about Steve Kean's position. But the current crisis is totally self inflicted. I don't blame Steve Kean. He accepted a job that anyone else would have done. There have been accusations of back stabbing and frequent talk that the involvement of the Kentaro group is less than healthy, but the owners have sowed the seeds that have produced only weeds so for.
Statement followed by counter statement on a whole host of issues have only frustrated the supporters and added to the growing tension. It is going to be very difficult for the owners to backtrack on their original view that Steve Kean was going to be in charge for the long haul. All is not lost but it might well be if we fail to beat Blackpool in a couple of weeks time. This really is a make or break game for both the individual and the masses.
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