Blackburn Club Focus – Rovers slip back to bottom as Kean looks for Carling Cup respite

Under-performing Blackburn Rovers slipped to the bottom of the Premier League table following a disappointing 3-1 away defeat at the hands of Europa League side Stoke City. The Lancashire outfit have now won just one of their opening 13 top flight games this term, less than any other team. Steve Kean’s strugglers have also conceded a staggering 30 goals so far this season, a statistic that will worry the manager given that Rovers shipped just 59 goals during the whole of the last campaign.

Rovers’ passionate fans once again took the opportunity to vent their anger at the much-maligned Kean at the Britannia Stadium and further protests against the manager have been planned for the crucial home game against newly promoted Swansea City. The ever-optimistic Kean was handed an improved contract last week, but not an extension. Supporters will continue to scratch their heads and question why a manager with such an abysmal record has been given an amended deal. Since being appointed, Kean has guided Rovers to just six wins from a possible 34 in the Premier League, giving him an alarmingly low win percentage of 18%.

The Scot has frequently argued that Rovers have been unlucky with both in-game decisions and also injuries. While many will fail to sympathise with Kean’s complaints about a lack of luck on the field – after all Blackburn were incredibly fortunate to get a point at Wigan and also rather fortunate during the 4-3 win over Arsenal – the former first-team coach has a valid point about Rovers’ mounting injury problems.

The former Premier League champions have not kept a clean sheet since the end of April, but Kean has been robbed of his experienced defenders for many of those games. On Saturday, Rovers’ back-line consisted of Jason Lowe, Grant Hanley, Scott Dann and Gael Givet. If all of Kean’s defenders had been available, it is unlikely that Lowe and Hanley would have featured. Michel Salgado, Chris Samba, Ryan Nelsen and Martin Olsson were all injured for the trip to the Britannia. Even injured, those four would arguably have formed a stronger defence than the one Kean was forced to pick.

Speaking after the game, Kean told Sky Sports: “We need to get an established solid back four like we did for the last nine games of last season when we did not make any changes and got seven results. That is going to be the key, getting the lads out of the treatment room and getting the back four settled.

Kean may be able to give some of those experienced defenders returning from injury a chance to play when Rovers face Cardiff City in the Carling Cup quarter-final clash this week. In contrast to their Premier League form, the Ewood Park outfit have been impressive in the cup competition so far, scoring ten goals in the three previous rounds. The 44-year-old Kean will be hoping for even more goals and a much-needed clean sheet as he looks to ease the pressure on himself and guide Rovers into the semi-finals.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Blackburn v Swansea

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