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Wednesday, December 21, 2011 

As if things couldn't get any worse for Steve Kean...

Veterans of what used to be the terraces at football grounds are for the most part a tough, difficult to shock bunch. When even some of them then walk out during the first half of a game, not because of the performance of their team but because of the truly poisonous atmosphere their fellow fans have created, it's time to sit up and take notice. Regardless of how poor a manager Steve Kean, the former coach of Blackburn Rovers is, absolutely no one deserves the abuse he's been subjected to now for months. Yesterday this culminated not only in supporters engaged in running battles with stewards as they attempted to parade "KEAN OUT" banners during the match, he was also nearly confronted by a fan who got into the dug-out. At the final whistle, among the other objects thrown at Kean was a season ticket book.

In a way it's unfair to specifically pick on Blackburn and their fans, especially when it's difficult for them to properly project their rage at the incompetence of the club's owners, Venky's, who are making the Glazers look like philanthropists by comparison. It does though highlight what ought to be recognised as football's new problem after the almost eradication of hooliganism: the truly unacceptable behaviour of some fans, who seem to think that buying a ticket entitles them to subject players and managers to an endless torrent of verbal, the kind of which would result in a criminal charge should do they it on the street. As the Secret Footballer wrote earlier in the year, it isn't so much the culture among players which means there isn't a single openly gay footballer, it's the fans and the abuse they know they would receive should they decide to come out. Open racism might have been stamped out, at least among the fans, yet homophobia is still sadly all too common.

The only reason Kean is staying around in the face of such treatment is obvious. If he were to walk away, he wouldn't get anything in the way of compensation; stay until Venky's are forced to act and he'll at least have something for putting up with what would be regarded in any other walk of life as bullying. And who could possibly blame him when he's become the scapegoat?

Oh. Yes, of all the people that really ought to keep their mouths shut, up steps Jack Straw. One thing that perplexes me is how keen Newsnight seems to get Henry Kissinger on to comment on world affairs; last week, not content with one potential war criminal in the shape of the bloated frame of Kissinger, it also had on Jeremy Greenstock, our man at the UN during the failed attempts to get a second resolution authorising war in Iraq. At least there's a certain logic in getting someone responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people to comment on dictators murdering their own civilians; there is however no one less qualified than Straw to comment on when a football manager should leave his job. Having been intimately involved not only in the Iraq war, he then subsequently lied about the role of the UK in the United States' extraordinary rendition programme, back in 2005 notably claiming that anyone suggesting there was such a worldwide torture regime being run by the US was a conspiracy theorist. Perhaps that's one thing Kean should take comfort from: that at least he isn't a politician completely divorced from the concept of morality.

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