Rovers fans should rally behind club

Blackburn fans protest against the club owners and manager.-AP

How much better if Blackburn fans saw the draw against Liverpool and the victory against Man United over the festive period as a sign that there is a beating heart and collective resolve at their club, despite what they might think of the absent owners. By Frank Malley.

You would not a treat a dog the way Blackburn fans have treated manager Steve Kean.

He has been verbally abused and routinely ridiculed for months. The venom in the protests has been frightening, prompting fellow managers such as Tottenham's Harry Redknapp to describe it as “horrific”.

A local newspaper has launched a campaign to get Kean sacked.

Now, after an uneasy truce over the festive period, comes the news in a statement that organised protests against Kean and Blackburn owners Venky's are to resume with “increased intensity.”

Yes, that is what football has come to.

Fans, supposedly loyal supporters of one of England's proudest clubs, issuing clinical statements as if they were some sort of ruling body for unacceptable behaviour.

The statement did not lack ambition. It read: “The aim of the protests, as from the start, will be about the removal of Steve Kean as first-team manager, Venky's as owners of the club and now the removal of the board of directors.

“The intensity of the protest will increase substantially. As Blackburn Rovers fans we have no choice but to try to ensure we preserve the legacy left by the late Jack Walker.”

You can understand fans' frustration at Blackburn's plight, yet I wonder what dear old Jack, the man who pumped large chunks of his personal fortune into Blackburn to realise his dream of winning the English Premier League trophy in 1995, would have made of that statement.

True, he would not have been overjoyed at his beloved club falling into the hands of owners who have taken Blackburn into debt and who appear to have little interest in the day-to-day running of the club or of building meaningful relationships with the supporters.

He would have been grumpy at the players' failure on the pitch, although you suspect he would also have made allowances for an injury list which has seen strong and crucial characters such as Ryan Nelsen and Gael Givet missing.

But you suspect Walker would have hated to have seen Blackburn die-hards using the excuse of his ‘legacy' to treat an impressively calm and dignified manager such as Kean, who appears to retain the support of the players, with such unnecessary vitriol.

You suspect he would have been appalled at the suggestion that fans should boycott FA Cup match and go to watch non-league Chorley instead.

Most of all, you suspect Walker, who made his fortune from steel, might have pointed out the value of constructive support rather than systematic negativity.

How much better if Blackburn fans saw the draw against Liverpool and the victory against Manchester United over the festive period as a sign that there is a beating heart and collective resolve at their club, despite what they might think of the absent owners.

Fans do not have to like football owners. The Glazers at Old Trafford, for instance, are almost universally reviled by Manchester United fans.

And if the Blackburn fans who make the trip to Newcastle canvass the opinions of Geordie supporters, they will almost certainly discover Newcastle owner Mike Ashley comes somewhere below Northern Rock bankers on their barometer of approval.

It does not stop Newcastle fans roaring on the men who pull on the famous black-and-white striped jerseys or appreciating the stirring job manager Alan Pardew has done in consolidating the club in the upper echelons of the English Premier League.

There cannot be too much to choose between Blackburn and Newcastle on the field. After all, they have both beaten Manchester United in the past week.

Blackburn may be bottom of the league right now but all is not lost. Not yet.

They have a striker in Yakubu with 12 league goals this season, just one less than Wayne Rooney. They have a winnable next home game against Fulham.

They have the distraction of the FA Cup, which the club have won six times — even if the last time was in 1928 — and which could be the springboard to a revival.

Is it really the time to peddle even more intense abuse.

Surely reason and Kean deserve a second chance.

* * *

With the air of a man who has calmed a crisis or two in his time, Sir Alex Ferguson emerged from Manchester United's second consecutive defeat of the festive period, the 3-0 hammering at Newcastle, muttering: “It's not a time to panic.”

Undoubtedly, Ferguson is right, as critics who are still wiping egg off their faces after predicting the downfall of Ferguson's empire on numerous occasions over the past 10 years will doubtless attest.

Ferguson has a knack of delivering after the turn of the year when experience and nerve count the most.

Yet, psychologically for the rest of the season, United's Sunday FA Cup clash against EPL leaders Manchester City does have a defining feel about it. It is the mother of all mind games.

And no-one is better at those than Ferguson.

© PA Sport, 2012, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.