BLACKBURN, England, May 8 – Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean insisted he had no intention of quitting the club following their relegation from the Premier League and vowed to stay at Ewood Park in a bid to help them return to the top flight.
Monday’s 1-0 home defeat by north-west rivals Wigan — who stayed up in the process — in a match Rovers had to win to maintain their bid for Premier League survival, ended Blackburn’s 11-year stay among English football’s elite.
Kean, who replaced former manager Sam Allardyce in December 2010, has faced consistent criticism from supporters throughout this season as have Blackburn owners Venky’s, an Indian-based poultry firm.
A local newspaper called for Kean to be sacked six months ago and the Scot faced verbal abuse throughout the Wigan defeat, Blackburn’s seventh loss in eight matches, as did Venky’s.
But Kean was adamant he would be around to guide Blackburn in their quest for an immediate return from the second-tier Championship.
“I will sit down with the owners and we’ll discuss a plan on how to assemble a squad to bounce back straight away,” he said.
“We’ve lost a lot of experience over the last six months and we’ve got to try to keep the squad together.
“If we can do that and if we can add experienced players to the squad we can bounce back and that’s what we’ll try to do.”
Kean has been the target for sustained abuse from supporters in recent months but he said his self-belief remained intact.
“I’m a big believer in my own ability and the guys that I’ve got in the dressing room.
“Each one is devastated but I can’t fault the commitment. If we can keep them and add quality I’m convinced we can move forward again,” Kean said.
“I believe in them because I work with them every day. We’ve got the youngest team in the league and some of them are making their way in the Premier League.
“It’s a massive set-back but they’ve got good careers ahead of them.”
A chicken, dressed in Blackburn colours, was thrown onto the pitch in the early stages and just after half-time a supporter sprinted across the turf and threw his season ticket in the air when he reached the dug-outs.
Some fans have contrasted Venky’s approach with that of lifelong fan and steel magnate Jack Walker who poured millions of his own fortune into Rovers when he owned the club.
During his time in charge Blackburn won the Premier League title in 1995 when current Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish was their manager.
Rovers, however, have struggled to recapture those glory days since Walker’s death in 2000.
Wigan, whose owner Dave Whelan is a former Blackburn player, assured themselves of another season of Premier League football when Antolin Alcaraz headed in the only goal of the game three minutes from the end.
That gave the visitors their sixth win in eight matches.
The Latics were overwhelming favourites for relegation and at one stage this season even lost eight consecutive matches.
But their impressive recent run has included victories over champions Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, who guided the Latics to safety on the final day of last season, tried to deflect the praise coming his way onto his players.
“Eight seasons in the Premier League is something remarkable for our football club and it’s time to celebrate,” Martinez said.
“We’ve beaten United, Arsenal and Liverpool and that’s a remarkable achievement,” the Spaniard added.
“To do that under these circumstances, when you’re in the bottom three, is a remarkable achievement and it’s the first time this club has done that.
“We need to kick on now and make the step up from being a team that is always fighting relegation.”