Blackburn Rovers v Hull City, 7.45pm
22 August ~ The clock is ticking for Steve Kean. Set a reported target of 17 points from the first 21 available by Blackburn's elusive owners Venky's, the manager has already lost two of the permitted four points and we are not even a week into the new season. Booed from the start of Saturday's away trip to Ipswich Town, Kean remains as unpopular among Rovers fans as ever. His assessment of their first Championship performance as "spirited, organised and athletic" surprised those that witnessed his side were camped in their own 18-yard box and spending the last ten minutes hanging on to a point.
It is clear that all is not well at Ewood Park. Shebby Singh, the "global advisor" that Venky's brought in to, as he put it, "get promotion or die trying" turned out to have a little too much advice for the manager's liking. Singh said that Kean was three games away from the sack and having called Morten Gamst Pedersen a "pensioner". The Blackburn manager labelled the comments "disruptive" and criticised Singh's subsequent apology.
Compared to the goings-on at Ewood Park, Hull City is a haven of peace and tranquility – something that can't have been said too often over the past six months. Having dismissed manager Nick Barmby for comments made to the media concerning the transfer budget last season, Hull's board turned to the experienced hand of Steve Bruce.
He has started his reign with back-to-back wins. While a 7-6 penalty victory over Rotherham and a late 1-0 win at home to Brighton may not have anyone's heads turning just yet, Bruce is experiencing the kind of honeymoon period that Steve Kean can only dream of.
Hull finished seven points outside the play-offs last season, in eight place. Before Barmby was dismissed he predicted they could be challenging the top Championship teams this time and the victory against early promotion favourites Brighton seems to underline that. The smart addition of Sone Aluko from Rangers over the summer compliments an already strong squad.
Apart from in attack, where Yakubu and Junior Hoillet's goals will be missed, Blackburn have strengthened their squad with relegation. Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu – a partnership that was playing in the Europa League final two years ago – should have too much quality for most of the Championship. Colin Kazim-Richards also looked a class above the division in his debut on Saturday.
Then again, with up to five new signings expected to start tonight and the inevitable backdrop of "Kean Out, Venky's Out" chants, perhaps this is a good time to play Blackburn. Unfortunately for those supporters from Lancashire who are hoping for a swift return to the Premier League, one suspects that until there is some unity between supporters, players, manager and even global advisor, most of this season will be a good time to play Blackburn. Tom Greene @tomdgreene