New striker on target to herald fresh start for Kean
Steve Kean saw his rebuilt Blackburn Rovers side struggle to a barely-merited point at Ipswich Town and then thanked the club's owners, Venky's, for their continued support.
The Rovers manager said he was happy with his "good strong squad" and also praised new striker Colin Kazim-Richards, who scored his side's goal and might have settled the game with a second.
As for the widely reported comments of the club's global advisor, Shebby Singh – allegedly "a joke" – that three straight defeats would get him the sack, Kean, who was under pressure from his own fans for long periods last season, responded with a well-worn joke of his own. "Look at my skin," he said. "It's quite thick, as you can imagine." He added: "We're disappointed with the result because we feel we controlled the game for the first hour."
In truth, neither side had threatened much before Rovers took the lead with almost insulting ease, from the home side's perspective, after 20 minutes. Central defender Scott Dann worked his way free of marker, Tommy Smith as Morten Gamst Pedersen played in a deep corner from the left and his header back across the goal was nodded in simply at the far post by the equally unchallenged Kazim-Richards.
It was the London-born Turkey striker's first goal in English football since November 2006, when he scored his only one in 29 games for Sheffield United. Kean will hope he is more prolific during his season's loan from Galatasaray, and this was at least an encouraging start.
At other times Kazim-Richards's finishing touch was less sure, as when he chipped the ball on to the roof of an unguarded net in a moment Kean considered a turning point in the game.
"We'd have got three points for sure if that had gone in," he said.
"Kazim's strong and skilful. Technically he's improved from being abroad and we feel he has the attributes to play down the middle, where he will get more chances – in the past he has tended to be played wide."
Bookings for two of Kean's other notable summer signings, the former Fulham midfield pair Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuthu, were also crucial, in the manager's view.
"We didn't want another mistimed tackle," he said.
Rovers' other debutant, the Portugal international Nuno Gomes, was largely anonymous up front.
These are high-profile players for the Championship, however, and Kean was thankful for being given the necessary financial clout to acquire them. He said: "Full credit to the owners for backing me with signings. We've been able to strengthen. And now we've got our first point on the board."
The same can be said for Ipswich, whose manager Paul Jewell added: "We didn't play great but the least we deserved was a draw. They made it difficult by sitting back after they scored. They're a quality team and will be right up there."
The game's clearest chance was passed up by Ipswich's Jay Emmanuel-Thomas after 55 minutes.
A strong shot by Josh Carson was parried by Paul Robinson into the forward's path, but instead of a simple right-foot finish, he attempted to manoeuvre the ball on to his left foot and lost it. It was symptomatic both of Emmanuel-Thomas's profligacy with possession and of Ipswich's inability to make their often skilfully crafted dominance count.
In the 81st minute, however, the home side at last gained deserved rewards for their efforts.
It came moments after their debutant goalkeeper, Scott Loach, made his best save, a brave dive at the feet of David Dunn. As Ipswich broke upfield again, a through ball from Luke Hyam found Jason Scotland in space in the box and, in attempting to prevent the substitute's knockdown from reaching Michael Chopra, Rovers defender Jason Lowe knocked it into his own net.
Aidan Semmens (The Independent)