Under-fire Blackburn manager Steve Kean was left too open to criticism during the club’s plunge into relegation, according to former striker Kevin Gallacher.
Kean’s dismal season reached its nadir as Rovers were condemned to relegation from the Barclays Premier League by a 1-0 defeat against Wigan at Ewood Park last night.
Kean was the subject of taunts and banners from disgruntled fans throughout a rancorous game which Rovers needed to win to have any hope of survival.
As has become common, there were anti-Kean demonstrations after the game but while Gallacher feels the manager must be accountable for bad results, he thinks he has been unfairly exposed by owners Venky’s.
Gallacher said: “Things have been bubbling up with the fans.
“But they have been so used to having a chairman facing things up and taking things away from the owners, and there is nobody doing that now.
“They need to get someone into the football club that is there.
“Unfortunately the only person that can do that is Steve Kean, the manager, so he is getting battered from pillar to post for basically doing a chairman’s role while not getting the results on the pitch.”
Rovers, one of only four clubs to have won the Premier League, have fallen into decline since their takeover by Indian poultry giants Venky’s in November 2010.
Venky’s made grand pronouncements about Champions League football and courted players such as David Beckham and Ronaldinho after their arrival, but removed popular figures such as chairman John Williams and manager Sam Allardyce.
Their season became a long struggle against relegation and it will now end with the outcome many supporters feared.
Gallacher, a member of the title-winning side of 1995, said: “It is very strange.
“I think we have been spoiled for many years having the likes of John Williams and Robert Coar around the club, able to right what is wrong in the fans’ eyes.
“Now there is nothing there, there is no communication.
“That is hard to take for the fans. They want to have a say in it but feel there is nobody there to listen.”
Kean has vowed to fight on in an attempt to bring the club back out of the Championship but Gallacher thinks his future must be in some doubt.
He said: “Steve has come out and said he will be here next season, but I honestly don’t know how what is going to happen.
“I have seen how Steve works internally and it is good, but it is about results on the pitch.
“Not many managers have stayed in a job with the results Steve has put in front of everybody.
“But you look around and see Steve is the only one communicating with the owners. I am sure the owners have something to think about now and the next conversation will be a very strange one.”
Rovers’ fate was confirmed soon after Antolin Alcaraz headed Wigan’s late winner with three minutes of a rain-sodden contest remaining.
Blackburn did have occasional chances but were largely outplayed, particularly late on, by a Latics side fighting for their own survival.
Gallacher said: “It was disappointing to say the least.
“You were hoping for a bit more fight and bite from them, you thought staying up meant a little bit more but unfortunately they never had it.
“But you don’t get relegated in one game. It is over 38 games, or slightly less and it has been a long, hard slog this season.
“Reality is setting in now that they will be playing Championship football next season.”
Gallacher, 45, left Blackburn for Newcastle in 1999 but still lives near the town.
The former Scotland international said: “The football club’s a big asset to the town.
“That’s what keeps people lifted and if the football club is on a down slope, so are the people.
“The town has been down and it is needing a smile on the face again, but unfortunately in the next few weeks I don’t think it is going to happen.”