Manchester United visit Blackburn Rovers tomorrow, and the former’s manager, Sir Alex Ferguson (above) has spoken out in support of his Rovers counterpart, Steve Keane, the object of mass derision through a difficult 2011-12 season. “In the worst moments,” writes The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor, “Keane is smuggled out of Ewood Park like a murderer being taken from court.” Though praising Keane, “because of the quiet, understated way he has kept his dignity,” Taylor also suggests, the fans’ “complaints may be legitmate.”
Nationally, a perception has grown that he has been the victim of mass bullying and deserves some slack because nobody likes a bully, do they? Locally, they point out the team’s failures, with the worst defensive record in the league, 62 goals conceded in 30 games. They cite how he got the job, why his relationship with Allardyce has disintegrated to dust, and the moderate, sometimes nonexistent contribution of signings such as Simon Vukcevic, David Goodwillie, Rubén Rochina, Mauro Formica, Bruno Ribeiro and Myles Anderson (point out that Yakubu’s transfer from Everton was a great piece of business and they will tell you Kean actually wanted Jermaine Beckford). The Lancashire Evening Telegraph has called for his sacking. So, too, has his local MP, Jack Straw. At times, it has felt like a whole town against one man.
In his drink-drive case he denied the charge, arguing that his drink must have been laced. The judge banned him for 18 months, pointing out “there is another explanation – that Mr Kean had more to drink than he has admitted”. A couple of months later, in a late-night hotel bar, Kean had a bizarre exchange with a television reporter. He ended up telling the reporter’s cameraman he had lovely hair.