Under-fire Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean insisted he would continue in his post after a 2-1 derby defeat at home to Bolton Wanderers sent his side to the bottom of the English Premier League table on Tuesday.
Bolton, who kicked off as the league’s basement club and remained in the relegation zone even after the win, enjoyed a sensational start at Ewood Park, the home of their Lancashire rivals.
Mark Davies put them ahead inside five minutes and Nigel Reo-Coker made it 2-0 on the half-hour.
Davies’ goal reignited the terrace taunts from Rovers fans toward Kean, who has been fighting a losing battle to win over supporters since he was appointed by Venky’s, the Indian-based poultry firm that owns the club, a year ago.
However, the jeers were stilled when Blackburn striker Aiyegbeni Yakubu pulled a goal back with 23 minutes left, but that was as good as it got for Rovers, Premier League champions in 1995.
“The fans come and expect us to get at Bolton and we didn’t, but I think they saw a response in the second half,” Kean told the BBC. “It’s not nice to lose any game, irrespective of what the fans are singing. Of course, I will continue. We’ll be positive and climb the table. There is no board meeting due, I spoke to the owners before the game and I am sure we will all stick together.”
It had been suggested before kickoff that whichever of the two Scottish managers on show ended up on the losing side could be sacked before Christmas and Bolton boss Owen Coyle sympathized with Kean.
“I feel for Steve — the shoe could have been on other foot, but I’m delighted to come out on the right end of the result,” Coyle said. “You could get the 20 best coaches in football and someone’s got to occupy the bottom two. It’s an easy story to write, but sometimes changing manager is not the solution.”
Cries of “Kean Out” could be heard all round Ewood Park after Bolton took a fifth-minute lead when, after Rovers failed to clear a corner, David Ngog cut the ball back to Mark Davies, whose first-time shot beat Paul Robinson.
Then a well-worked move saw Bolton double their lead in the 30th minute.
Reo-Coker, making the most of yet more poor defending, burst through the middle and found Martin Petrov on the left.
Morten Gamst Pedersen failed to deal with Petrov’s mishit cross, but Reo-Coker, despite having his back to goal, was still able to turn and score.
However, in the 67th minute, injury-hit Rovers scored when Yakubu, played in by Junior Hoilett, lofted the ball over Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Then, in the fourth minute of stoppage-time, Rovers nearly equalized, only for defender Christopher Samba to power a header wide of the post.
Bolton are now second from bottom, two points above Rovers, but still two shy of safety.
In Tuesday’s other Premier League match, Wolverhampton Wanderers twice came from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw at home to promoted Norwich City that left them two points above the drop zone.
Former Wolves midfielder Andrew Surman gave Norwich an early lead, before Sylvan Ebanks-Blake equalized before halftime.
Substitute Simeon Jackson made it 2-1 to Norwich with his first touch in the 76th minute, before Wolves’ Ronald Zubar scored his first goal of the season six minutes later.
“It was exciting, captivating and excruciating at times,” Wolves manager Mick McCarthy said. “Irrespective of the goals we’ve conceded, we should have won with the amount of chances we created.”