A clucking mess

Early Doors

When a chicken (yes, an actual chicken) ends up in the net, but the ball does not, you know it is a fittingly shambolic way to seal your relegation.

Amid chaotic scenes at Ewood Park, Blackburn lost their must-win game to Wigan and departed the top flight in front of a thoroughly disgruntled crowd.

Early Doors has rarely known this mutinous an atmosphere outside an England World Cup squad. The HMS Bounty was like Butlins compared to Ewood last night.

The chicken was followed by another pitch invader early in the second half, while the final whistle sparked an angry pitch invasion as Steve Kean stood defiantly in his technical area, waiting for the two-goal turnaround that never came.

Angry as they were, the fans stopped short of halting the game as Genoa ultras did recently, and demanding the players hand over their shirts (not fir to wear them, etc.)

Badly as they performed, the players largely escaped public censure, barring Morten Gamst Pedersen whose atrocious long-range free-kicks provoked chants of: "That's why we're going down."

Instead, ire was directed in equal measure at the club's owners Venky's and manager Steve Kean.

Having been pilloried by his own fans all season, and having spent 90 minutes listening to them call for his exit, Kean's post-match interview - like so many others this season - was a masterpiece of denial.

Kean talked up a largely hopeless Rovers display, and lamented the non-award of a penalty for a foul on Junior Hoilett.

All the while, he refused to address the wider issue of Blackburn's poor form all season, preferring to focus on next season's promotion bid. Crisis? What crisis?

It was the football management equivalent of the knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, lying on the ground with his arms and legs cut off, insisting: "It's just a flesh wound."

Kean might lack perspective, but his bravery cannot be questioned. He is widely loathed by the fans, needs round-the-clock security protection and cannot leave the house without sustaining a volley of abuse.

If Rovers fans were consoling themselves with the knowledge that at least Kean was gone, they could have another thing coming. After the season he has had, most managers would be relieved to get the hell out of Dodge, but not he.

The Scot cited West Ham as the model to follow in the Championship, intriguing for several reasons.

a) Though they are in the play-off final, West Ham's season hardly qualifies as a roaring success.

b) West Ham are managed by Sam Allardyce, the man kicked to the kerb by Venky's to make way for Kean's brand of sexy football - back in the days when the club thought the Champions League was a realistic target.

c) Big Sam is almost as despised by his fanbase as Kean. Initially for his direct playing style, then for describing the 'West Ham way' as "deluded b******s".

It would be hard for Kean to reduce his popularity even further, but openly mocking the supporters would seem like a good start.

While the 'Kean Out' movement's excesses have clearly been, well, excessive, ED has a large dollop of sympathy with it.

Kean's remarkable resilience has seen him painted in the media as the victim of vicious and unrealistic fans.

But his record at the club is truly awful - are the supporters really meant to stand meekly by while the owners and a first-time manager dismantle the team? ED thinks not.

It would be a stretch to say the Premier League will miss Blackburn (no, wait, it would be an outright lie) but their followers deserve better than the current mess.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We've got to keep as many players together as possible, a little like West Ham have done, and add a little more experience and then we can bounce back. We'll be back to fight another day." Steve Kean just won't take a hint.

FOREIGN VIEW: Hristo Stoichkov, coach of champions Litex Lovech, has challenged Bulgarian Football Union chief Borislav Mihaylov to take a lie-detector test to prove he did not take part in match-fixing.

Mihaylov, who is also a UEFA Executive Committee member, declined former team mate Stoichkov's request, saying it was not right for a president to respond to a coach.
"I will not go into any discussions and debates with him," the BFU chief told the national channel BTV.

The challenge came after Stoichkov had made several complaints to the country's football authorities recently, saying they were to blame for the poor quality of the league, poor refereeing, lack of spectators and match-fixing.

"I've waited too long but I can't stand it anymore," an angry Stoichkov told local channel TV7. "Something has to be done.

"There's no place for these people in Bulgarian football and for the one who leads them. I'm calling him (Mihaylov) to a public debate and I want a lie detector to be used."

COMING UP: Hey, wait a minute. Haven't Liverpool just played Chelsea? Well, they're playing again tonight, and ED for one would like to see the Blues take to the field wearing their FA Cup winners medals. This match feels a bit redundant, but it actually matters a great deal to Chelsea, who must win to take any realistic chance of Champions League qualification into the final day. Liverpool v Chelsea at 8pm UK time.

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