Blackburn mutiny adds to Steve Kean’s problems
Premier League preview: Blackburn Rovers v QPR
Rebellion has long hung in the air at Ewood Park, but the latest uprising facing beleagured manager Steve Kean comes from deep within his own camp, writes Ian Cooper.
The barrage of criticism aimed at Kean this season has been relentless. Such was the fans’ wrath when his side were dispatched 3-1 on home turf by bitter enemies Bolton Wanderers in December, it seemed his reign was all but over.
Yet he fought on. A battling draw at Anfield and a heroic 3-2 win at fortress Old Trafford suggested Kean had turned the tide and could finally lead Rovers towards the safety of mid-table.
Unfortunately, since that victory over United, Blackburn have lost four of their next six games. The last defeat, a 7-1 annihilation at the hands of Arsenal on Saturday, represented a new low.
That result left Blackburn 19th in the Premier League table, three points from safety.
At Ewood Park, once a fortress which even the top sides struggled to breach, they have won just three times in the league.
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To add to his struggles, Kean now has to deal with the mutinous centre-back Christopher Samba, a QPR target during the January transfer window who, upon failing to secure an escape route out of Ewood, has point-blank refused to play. Samba has not featured since the defeat to Stoke in early January, and Kean hinted this week that he could consider legal action against the centre-back.
“I’m not a legal expert. He’s fit and he’s available for selection, but I’ve decided not to put him in the squad,” said Kean (pictured).
“He’s one of our key defenders and you always miss any player when they’re not available. It’s a position where we’d like to get it resolved as soon as possible, because I think the way we are just now is not really helpful for anybody.”
If Samba does not return, Kean’s problems will mount still further. Gael Givet is unavailable through suspension having been sent off against Arsenal, while Ryan Nelsen was sold to Tottenham.
That could see 20-year-old Grant Hanley return to the side at centre-back, while Bradley Orr is likely to face a swift reunion with his former team-mates at right-back.
Rovers are likely to line up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Steven Nzonzi shielding the back four, and Morten Gamst Pedersen and Junior Hoilett supporting frontman Anthony Modeste. David Dunn and Radosav Petrovic should keep their places in central midfield.
Another defeat could finally spell the end for Kean, while Rangers head north knowing a result is crucial if they are to avoid being sucked back into the drop-zone. Stalemate would suit neither side, but that is exactly what they will have to settle for in a 1-1 draw.
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