On many levels, Steve Kean and Owen Coyle are very similar, albeit the latter possess more experience as a manger. Both have a dreadful record in the Premier League in 2011, both are under pressure at their respective clubs – perhaps Kean more than Coyle – and both have vehemently rejected the notion of being sacked and are keen to keep on fighting and battling, as they come face to face in tomorrow night’s class relegation six pointer with Coyle referring to it “as the biggest game of the season.”
Steve Kean has never been popular among the Blackburn faithful, with “Kean Out” chants radiating and banners being unfurled at almost every opportunity or at least each time Rovers lose. Many will have sympathy for Blackburn fans in their belief that Sam Allardyce was never adequately replaced and the Venky’s haven’t provided Kean with sufficient funds to redevelop the squad. Today, local newspaper, the Lancashire Evening Telegraph were calling for Kean’s head, while he remains upbeat ahead of tomorrow’s clash: “There is pressure tomorrow but we have to enjoy it. From the first minute there will be pressure. You have to show courage to accept it.”
On the other hand, Owen Coyle was praised to high heavens during and towards the latter stages of last season but five defeats on the bounce in their final five leagues game saw the Trotters fall from 8th to 14th. Since then, it has been somewhat of a downward spiral for Coyle and his side, in fact, in his last 21 Premier League games they’ve only managed to win three games (QPR, Wigan and Stoke) taking a total of 9 points out of 63. While Kean has managed double that amount taking 18 points out of a possible 63. For Bolton, there seems to be no middle ground – their last draw came against Newcastle on February 26th.
Football is a fickle sport. Each week, it is Kean that is derided the most. Perhaps it is due to his volatile relationship with the Blackburn fans and the fact the Coyle is seen as somewhat of a “Bolton legend” but that doesn’t mean he should be devoid of criticism. The cold hard facts are Bolton have lost 13 out of 16 games this season (they lost 16 in the whole of last season) and five on the trot ahead of tomorrow night’s game. “Inside it is absolutely killing me. I have a positive mindset, but this is a horrible time.” Coyle has said in relation to recent results.
Kean, sadly, is probably never going to be accepted by Blackburn fans, regardless of what he does, but the majority of the blame has to also lie at the door of the Venky’s. Coyle seems to still have the support of his fans and chairman alike and even with the press – Kean has very much taken him out of the spotlight. If rumours are to be believe Alan Shearer and Avram Grant are two of the names in the frame to replace Kean if he is given the heave ho, both of whom are no strangers to relegation battles.
Last season, just three points separated their two sides with Bolton finishing 14th on 46 points and Blackburn in 15th with 43 points. This season, the pair are currently propping up the Premier League table with just a single, solitary point the difference between Blackburn in 19th and Bolton in 20th – a victory tomorrow night for both sides will be paramount, sadly, there can only be one winner. It’ll be squeaky bum time for Kean and Coyle as the relegation dog-fight begins to kick in.
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