Kean: Only victories can pull stayaway Blackburn Rovers fans back to Ewood (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Kean: Only victories can pull stayaway Blackburn Rovers fans back to Ewood
STEVE Kean knows Blackburn Rovers must secure early home wins to tempt stayaway fans back to Ewood Park – but he believes last season’s often hostile atmosphere can be changed with results.
Rovers play their first home game of the campaign against Hull City tonight, with a new kick-off time of 7.45pm this season, and there is expected to be a reduced crowd for the match with season ticket sales down because of dissatisfaction among fans as well as the club’s relegation from the Premier League.
Sales are said to be nearing the 9,000 mark but that is still well short of the 14,000 sold last season.
Despite prices remaining low, there is the possibility of an attendance of below 15,000 for a league game this term for the first time since 1993.
Many fans have cited Kean’s continuing presence as boss as their reason for staying away and, with Leicester visiting Ewood on Saturday for a second home match in four days, the Scot says Rovers must start their season well on home soil if they are to boost gates.
“I think it’s our responsibility to make sure we get off to a good start,” he said.
“I think it’s a very economical ticket that the club have offered. The plan is for us to be at the top of the league or near the top of the league, then the fans who were not sure if they were going to come are going to be thinking, ‘I need to go and see a bit of that because it sounds as though it’s a good product’.”
Kean came under fire from fans during a number of home games last season, culminating in the 1-0 Ewood loss to Wigan that sealed their relegation.
But, despite many supporters still calling for a change of manager, he insists home wins can change that spiky atmosphere and believes it will not get in the way of Rovers’ promotion hopes. “I think it’s possible to win promotion and I think we have got a squad that’s well capable of getting promotion,” he said.
“I think we have to take the responsibility of creating the atmosphere, us as a team, as a staff, as a club.
“If the team that we put on the pitch plays good football and wins, then the fans cheer. If we don’t win, they don’t cheer. I think that’s the same everywhere.
“It (the atmosphere) wasn’t easy sometimes last season but that’s gone.
“What we’ve got to do now is focus on taking our responsibility and giving the fans something to shout about, that we’re playing good football, attacking football, scoring goals and keeping clean sheets, all the bits that make up points and ultimately take us up the league and get the fans in a positive mindset.
“We were losing lots of players last season, we had a very young side and at times we were a bit naive.
“But they’re all a year older now, the Jason Lowes, the Grant Hanleys, Adam Henleys, the ones who sometimes came in because we were very thin on the ground.
“They have now established themselves as first team players and can only benefit from that.”
And Kean hopes Rovers can reach a point where opponents fear coming to Ewood once more.
“I think when you look at the stats in this league you can’t afford to lose too many away games, never mind home games,” he said.
“What we want is to an intimidating atmosphere for the opposition.
“It’s been quite noted that when you go to places like Stoke, I think they were voted as one of the most vocal and it’s one of the most hostile grounds in the league above.
“We would love to have that once the season tickets start flying in and the results keep coming, that the atmosphere is a real intimidating place and when the opposition run out there’s a bit of fear.”
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