SCOTTISH manager Steve Kean insists being ordered to axe Real Madrid legend Michel Salgado at Blackburn Rovers was one of the toughest situations he has ever faced in football.
Unpopular owners, Venky’s, told Kean that the club could not afford the one-year extension to Salgado’s contract which would be activated if he played one more game for the Ewood Park outfit.
The 52-year-old also claims that he was instructed to keep the reason for Salgado’s absence a secret from the player and says it was one of the toughest situations he has ever faced in football.
He said: “There have been a few challenges I’ve faced but one of the hardest was when I was at Blackburn and I had a situation with Michel Salgado – if he played one more game then he had an automatic one-year extension on his contract.
“The owners couldn’t afford that, or didn’t want to afford it, and they told me I couldn’t play him again.
“That was really tough because they didn’t want me to tell him that it was their decision.
“I slept on it and realised that I had to be honest. So I told him the truth. There is no point trying to fudge these things or paint it a different way.
“If it’s an economic decision that has been made above you – a board decision or an owner’s decision – which affects the players then you need to be honest with them.
“So I pulled Michel aside and said ‘you aren’t going to play again, they don’t want to activate the clause in your contract’. I gave him a week off to spend with his family then said ‘let’s work together and get you a move’. That what we did.”
Kean, who spent a tumultuous two years in charge of Blackburn, was offering his insights during a Q&A on the Scottish Football Coaching podcast.
And he admitted that being in the hot-seat amid the unpopular reign of the Venky’s was a daily challenge, with fans, players and coaches all being affected by the sense of uncertainty.
Kean continued: “If you find yourself in a position where there is new ownership, the fans aren’t happy and the players are confused about what the owners want, that’s a big challenge you need to overcome.
“That’s something I had every day at Blackburn – fans being unhappy with the owners, the players wondering who is going to stay at the club and who is moving on, and I found it really difficult to get all those elements on the same page.”
Kean also opened up on the all-encompassing nature of life as a coach, reflecting on his time as assistant manager to Chris Coleman at Fulham as he attempted to get the best out of misfiring French defender Alain Goma.
He laughed: “I would go home and my wife would say to me ‘can we stop talking about football? And can I stop being Alain Goma?’
“Alain Goma was a player of mine who was having a particularly bad time and I’d be telling her ‘stand up, you’ll never guess what he was doing in this situation’.
“At that point, I realised it was time to put the ball away.”