STEVE Kean admits Blackburn Rovers badly missed Steven Nzonzi on Saturday night – after accusing his side of giving the ball away too easily.
A frustrated Rovers boss was forced to leave midfielder Nzonzi on the substitutes bench, due to a bout of tonsilitis, as his side crashed 3-0 at Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Nzonzi did make a second half appearance from the bench but, by then, Rovers were dead and buried having spent the majority of the game chasing City's shadows.
Kean said: “It was disappointing.
“We’ve gone to other tough grounds like Man United and Liverpool and done better than that.
“Our defensive organisation was good but as soon you win the ball, if we give it away as cheaply as we did at times today then it’s going to be tough and the other team is going to keep knocking it about and it’s going to be hard to get it back.
“That’s a factor we’re going to be trying to improve on and I do think a factor of that was not having Nzonzi, probably our best passer.
“If you look at the stats, Steven normally gets 100 passes a game and he then gives service to Morten and Junior, the wide areas and we found it difficult to get into those little pockets today because in the middle third we never really kept it enough.”
While the defeat moves Rovers back into the relegation zone, Manchester City stretched their winning home run to 18 matches as they dominated throughout.
Rovers were only able to get one shot on target, a weak strike from Yakubu in the dying seconds, and Kean believes travelling to Manchester City is now one of the toughest Premier League tests.
“I certainly think this is now up there as one of the toughest places to come as I don’t think they’ve dropped any points here,” said Kean.
“It is a tough ground for anybody to come.
“A big factor of that is when they rotate the squad, it’s the standard of players they bring in.
“They left Clichy out today, Micah Richards out and the two lads that came in are very expensive, experienced players.
“When they do rotate, I don’t think the quality diminishes any, it stays the same – it might even rise. That’s what an expensive squad does when you do rotate and can get a freshness it is going to be difficult for anyone.”