Steve Kean went from zero to hero within the space of just a few hours as a spirited Blackburn Rovers side stormed to an unexpected 4-3 win over struggling Arsenal. The 43-year-old Scot was not even alive the last time Rovers put four past the Gunners in a league game (1963), and neither were many of those who protested against him prior to the clash at Ewood Park on Saturday. However, it was Kean – and not the 200-700 supporters who had called for his dismissal earlier in the day – who had the last laugh.
Some fans were left irritated a few days ago when Kean claimed that only a minority of fans were unhappy with him, but the figures did little to prove the manager wrong. “The
It would be cruel not to give the manager credit for such a result and many would agree that Kean, who has now gone two games unbeaten with Rovers against the Gunners, has handled himself well through what have been a tough few weeks. But things could have been very different. The travelling Arsenal fans were in full voice as their side went 2-1 ahead through Mikel Arteta’s first goal for the club, aiming chants of ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning’ in Kean’s direction. Some Rovers fans joined in. They were soon silenced.
When the Lancashire outfit cruised to a 4-2 lead in the second-half, some home supporters began to show their support for Kean with words that have not been uttered at Ewood Park for some months. ‘Steve Kean’s blue and white army’ echoed around the Riverside stand as a portion of the crowd acknowledged a thrilling display and a real show of togetherness and spirit from Rovers. Arsenal’s late third goal did little to dampen spirits and by full-time, the stadium was rocking.
Kean celebrated with great passion. So did Rovers’ co-owners Balaji and Venkatesh Rao. Beating Arsenal is never an easy task, but Rovers condemned the Gunners to their 100th away defeat in the Premier League and Kean’s side leapfrogged their opponents in the process.
Another man who will have silenced his critics is Yakubu, who scored twice on his Rovers debut. The 28-year-old Nigerian, who completed 90 minutes in the Premier League for the first time in 11 months, moved to Ewood Park on deadline day after falling out of favour at Everton. However, the striker showed that he can still do a top job at this level and his clinical first goal was particularly impressive. The home crowd will be hoping for more of the same over the coming months.
Of course, one victory does not change much. Some supporters are yet to be convinced by Kean and Rovers still have plenty of work to do if they are to finish in the top-half. However, the win over Arsenal has surely bought Kean more time to prove himself and if the optimistic Scot can keep guiding Rovers to wins, then he may soon find 100% of the Ewood Park crowd back on his side.
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