After last night’s 1-0 defeat to Wigan Athletic it is official: Steve Kean and his Blackburn Rovers side have been relegated from the English Premier League and join Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Championship for season 2012/13.
People may talk about pluck and conviction, but in the end there are very few who did not see this coming. Blackburn have been teetering for a while now, and although Wigan have shown some impressive spirit in recent weeks and are now safe for another term, largely thanks to their manager Roberto Martinez, Blackburn were always fighting a losing battle.
The problems started when Rovers were bought over by Indian family-run business the Venkys Group. Wealthy from selling chickens in the sub-continent and around the globe, the group came in vowing to change things.
In one of their first moves as owners they sacked their manager Sam Allardyce, a man who knows his way around a relegation dog fight, claiming he did not have enough experience. They replaced him with… his assistant Steve Kean, who had no managerial experience of his own.
The story continually circulating is that agents came in and started cajoling Venkys, laying on suggestions about the direction the club should take. In turn the owners proved how little they knew about the game by making grandiose claims about signing players like Ronaldinho.
They did sign players, but not before selling a few, and those that were brought in were largely unknown or for bargain bin prices.
In truth the decision to sign Yakubu Aiyegbeni for very little money was a masterstroke by Kean, but one swallow does not a summer make, as the saying goes. While the Nigerian was rifling in goals, his team were conceding.
Last term they survived. Just. This year they go down because they failed to keep clean sheets at all, until very late in the season. They were bailing out water for most of the season, but their leak was too great. Hampered by inexperience, a lack of depth and an ongoing protest against the owners by a loudly disgruntled fan base this Lankashire side had no hope.
It remains to be seen whether Venkys will hang around. They are just delusional enough not to see that they have dragged a club of some standing into relegation. As for Kean, the Glaswegian coach seems determined to stay put even if the fans are calling for his head.
However, the more important question is: who joins Wolves and Rovers in the Championship? Bolton Wanderers and Queens Park Rangers are both very much in the firing line with one game left to play. It could go either way.