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The Lee Richardson column: Why Rovers fans are Kean to see the back of the club's owners

Former Halifax, Watford, Blackburn, Aberdeen, Oldham and Huddersfield midfielder Lee Richardson - who was also a player and manager at Chesterfield - starts a new column today with Total Football.

Richardson, who has a UEFA Pro coaching licence, now works as a psychologist, helping people to achieve their goals. He runs his own business, AIM (Achievement in Mind).

Why Rovers fans are Kean for the Venkys to withdraw

In previous roles as a player, coach and manager I was no stranger to the experience of being targeted by supporters.

As a player, particularly when playing in Scotland for Aberdeen, I remember vividly running the gauntlet while being asked to play a wider role near the touchline, at Celtic Park in front of the infamous 'Jungle' as well as being coined relentlessly at Fir Park, Motherwell's ground, whilst carrying out similar duties.

However the supporters of Glasgow Rangers had a particular keenness to express their feelings, toward this long haired Sassenach from Yorkshire, and on more than one occasion.

On one such occasion I recall seeing a not so 'gentle' gentleman, who I presumed to be a grandfather, and his young grandson (aged about seven or eight years old) searching for someone on the Aberdeen team bus, as we pulled up outside Ibrox for a top of the table encounter.

The old grandpa finally focused his eyes on his intended target, yours truly, and with a mixture of excitement and hatred began gesticulating and swearing with all the energy he could muster, at which his young grandson synchronised in tandem with his granddaddy and joined him in his anti Rico profanity.

Strengthened my resolve

All these experiences and many others provided a grounding and strengthened my resolve for my future encounters with fan hostility. However the kind of hostility I was to encounter for the following seven seasons after finishing playing was not hostility from opposing fans but from those who were, for the most part, paying my wages.

Initially as a coach and assistant manager at Chesterfield with Dave Rushbury and then Roy McFarland I stood alongside both men as they endured (at various times) savage verbal abuse, often from the same characters. An abuse which grew in intensity and in numbers towards the end of each man’s reign as manager.

So as I stepped into the breech at the end of Roy’s four years in charge and having just been relegated after five years of punching well above club weight, the feel bad factor was well entrenched at Saltergate and once again I was the focus of much fan indignation.

Indignation which stayed in place pretty much throughout my two years as manager, even when we were well placed for the most part.

It was interesting, at the time, that an often unhelpful home crowd at Saltergate would come up with ever more ingenious ways of calling for my head, yet found it difficult to utilise the same imagination to invent songs of support for the team.

Steve is Kean to get on with the job in hand

Therefore I have observed the recent events at another of my old stomping grounds, Ewood Park, surrounding Blackburn manager Steve Kean, with great interest. Not just as someone who has experienced similar attention albeit from a quarter of the numbers, and as an ex player from the earliest days of the Jack Walker revolution.

But also as the person who missed out on selection for the first team coach job, Kean’s initial employment opportunity at Blackburn. I had progressed through to the last two after a thorough selection process carried out by Sam Allardyce, Neil McDonald and support staff at Blackburn Rovers in the summer of 2009.

In the recent weeks a select number of high profile managers have leapt to the defence of Steve Kean and accused the Blackburn Rovers supporters of atrocities against a fellow manager, in singling out Steve for virulent protest and targeted abuse.

Whilst I understand the sentiment behind this show of comradeship, as a fellow LMA member, I believe that the strength of feeling shown by the Blackburn supporters is a consequence of several other factors that have fuelled this insurgency against the Kean regime.

Just over 12 months ago Rovers sacked Allardyce and assistant Neil Mcdonald after a 1-0 defeat at local rivals Bolton.


However, had a reversal in that scoreline taken place, a victory for Rovers would have seen them jump to sixth place in the Premier League table.

The timing and nature of Allardyce and McDonald’s departure sent shockwaves through football as,  for most observers on the outside, Blackburn were punching well above their weight with Sam among the leading contenders to succeed Fabio Capello as England manager.

It had only taken the new owners a few weeks to impose their authority on the football club with proud traditions and dispose of a hugely experienced and successful manager.

And whilst it appeared to be an unprecedented gamble both inside and outside of Blackburn, there will have been a few of the Ewood faithful fantasising over who the next manager would be, accompanied by the soon to follow superstar players, purchased with the supposedly deepened coffers.

Fast forward just over 12 months down the line and the fantasy has turned into a grim reality of Championship football on the horizon.

High anxiety

Yet it is not the stats of the Premier League half way stage and the bottom club that is causing the high anxiety amongst the Rovers fans. They are concerned not just for their  Premier League survival but for the club's long term future whilst owned from afar by the Venky corporation.

Foreign intervention, at board room level of football in this country at Premier League level, has become increasingly the norm.

However the model of ownership employed by the Venkys - sack a successful manager, within weeks, employ a novice manager in his place, and fail to deliver on promises of superstar turns to raise the profile of the club and then support failure beyond normality - and you have a recipe for causing the kind of uprising we have seen in recent weeks.

It is for these reasons that I believe support for Steve Kean is misguided, as support for Kean is support for the Venky occupation. An occupation that would have the very first of the big spenders in football’s Premiership, Uncle Jack Walker, dismayed.

Jack made sound decisions and did everything for the people of Blackburn. A payback, an investment in the town as a thank you for the workers who had helped him to riches and to a football club which had made him and his fellow north Lancastrians proud.

Promises are not being kept

It appears there is no such investment planned by the Venkys any time soon and other promises, such as agreeing to meet disillusioned fans, are not being kept.

The Blackburn fans' hostility toward the public figurehead of the Venky era, Steve Kean, alas is a consequence of not just a lack of investment and rock bottom status in the Premier League.

But having realised they have had the security of Premier League status put at high risk from bad decisions, Blackburn Rovers fans' hostility and venom is designed for the Venkys to withdraw their commander in field and return from whence they came.

If you are interested in finidng out more about Lee's services, he can be contacted via his website,

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