x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Steve Kean can do job at Blackburn

Firing of Allardyce may be unpopular, but his replacement at Blackburn Rovers is one of football's good guys.

Steve Kean is highly respected as a coach and well-liked by players, says Andrew Cole.
Steve Kean is highly respected as a coach and well-liked by players, says Andrew Cole.

There is outrage at my old club Blackburn Rovers for the sacking of Sam Allardyce. Key players are not happy and neither are fans.

From the outside, the decision does not make sense. Sam may have a big ego, but he brought Premier League stability to Rovers. That should not be taken for granted at a club which loses money each season and where the average crowd is less than 25,000.

The new Indian owners clearly see things very differently and sacked him almost immediately.

Everyone, including Sam, is stunned. I'm not, because a trusted little bird told me two months ago what was going to happen.

He said that the club would be taken over by an Indian company and that Sam would be pushed aside, to be replaced by the coach Steve Kean. If Keano does well then he keeps the job.

If I knew that, then Sam did and he is probably right to think that he is been stabbed in the back. But while everyone is saying "Steve who?" none of the Blackburn players are complaining about him.

It could be because he's their new boss, but I've worked with Keano and it's more likely that it's because they like him.

Keano was Chris Coleman's coach when I was at Fulham. He took training and was very good at it. Every session was fun, demanding, varied and never monotonous like training can be.

He was very astute, tactically. All the lads liked him. He was enthusiastic, easy-going and intelligent. He spoke well, which he will need to do now he's a manager who will have to get used to facing the media most days.

Keano and Chris liked to play good football and by that I mean they liked to get the ball on the ground and play it around rather than the long ball.

Great coaches do not always make great managers, though. A coach can afford to be pally with the players and joke along with them. They can be the buffer between the manager and the players, but that changes when they become the gaffer.

I worked with Brian Kidd at Manchester United in the 1990s. He was a top coach loved by all the players, as I am sure he is now at Manchester City, but he was too nice to be a manager.

He did not want to upset anyone. Kidd went to Blackburn and it didn't go well for him.

His replacement was Steve McClaren, another good coach who was a bit more cunning than Kidd.

He was not as popular as Kidd with the players, but that cunning is a good skill for a manager. I would go further and say that a manager has to be capable of telling bare-faced lies.

He is always going to upset people and it takes a strong personality to do that.

Steve Kean deserves his chance. Thanks to Allardyce, Blackburn are six points clear of the relegation zone in 12th, which is almost exactly where they were last year. Blackburn do have injuries, but they have a talented squad with a good home record.

The circumstances of Keano taking over are not ideal, but are they ever when a new manager is appointed?

The public don't know him at the moment, but people in football do and he is well-respected.

He was lined up to be the assistant manager at Chelsea under Felipe Scolari because he speaks Portuguese after coaching in Portugal.

He also coached in Spain with Real Sociedad, both good attributes for the modern manager who must look beyond his own country to source players. Sam Allardyce is an old-school manager. Keano could be part of the new brigade.

That said, I am not impressed by Blackburn's new owners so far because I believe they are living in dreamland if they are thinking Blackburn can finish in the top five. Blackburn should be doing cartwheels if they finish in the top 10.

The owners appear to be good businesspeople but do not know much about football. It makes good financial and football sense for them to keep the club's chief executive, John Williams.

John is Mr Blackburn, hugely experienced and respected in football. He solves the problems which arrive on a daily basis at any club through common sense and wisdom. He was great with me when I played there and fell out with the manager.

Players like Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen may be speaking to John about their concerns, but they have no choice but to play well.

If they are genuinely unhappy and want a move away from Ewood Park then they're only going to get away by attracting buyers. They might be angry at Big Sam leaving, but they do not want to see the team and club fall apart, however crazy they think the new owners are.

sports@thenational.ae