A LOT has happened since Colin Kazim-Richards last started for Blackburn Rovers but, as far as he is concerned, nothing will take away from the ultimate objective of Premier League promotion.
Rovers’ Turkish international is pushing for a return to the starting line-up for this afternoon’s Championship visit of Wolves, having been out for six weeks with a knee ligament injury, and insists it is ‘business as usual’ as Ewood Park welcomes the post Steve Kean era.
Kazim-Richards, on a season-long loan from Galatasaray, was brought to the club by Kean and was quick to wish his former boss well for the future after his shock resignation on Friday.
But, despite witnessing the anger directed towards Kean by sections of the home support so far this season, Kazim-Richards insists there is no ill-feeling towards the supporters for making their protests heard.
He said: “I played in 20 times worse than what was going on at Ewood Park and this is what I was trying to tell people. Everyone is like ‘it is this’, ‘it is that’ and I said ‘this is football’, ‘this is what goes on’.
“You have to understand the fans are passionate about their club and they are going to try and get their point across no matter what. Certain things I don’t agree with but my views are different. Who am I to say anything? When you are so passionate about something you have to try and get your point across one way or another.
“That is the way certain people thought they had to do it.
“I have played in games in Turkey and Greece where 50,000 fans are booing every time their player touches the ball. It is a working environment and that is what you get.
“You get chairs coming on the pitch, you have got shoes, money, lighters, so for me the supporters at Blackburn, what they were doing, it might have been wrong it might have been right, but you just have to get on with it.
“I don’t want to sound disrespectful but it hasn’t really been a big thing for me. I’m not saying the passion of the fans is not great – that’s not what I mean, I mean the way they have gone about it was all right.
“I have seen Galatasaray fans set their stadium alight. That is no disrespect to Blackburn fans, over here is a different culture.”
A big crowd is expected this afternoon with the turmoil of the past 18 months expected to be put to one side in the wake of Kean’s departure.
The striker was at home when Kean told the squad of his resignation at a London hotel last Friday and he admitted he thought it was ‘wind-up’ when Danny Murphy texted him the news.
A party atmosphere is expected from some quarters but Kazim-Richards is adamant the previous negative atmosphere could not have been used as an excuse to derail their promotion push.
He said: “There is no excuse for us to be scared or losing points. I can’t judge and I can’t say what has gone on over the last 18 months because I wasn’t there. It wouldn’t be fair of me to say anything.
“No disrespect, certain media do things certain ways and they portray it to be what it’s not. Everyone needs to get their point across and it is not as though what happens here doesn’t happen anywhere else.
“For me, I had to go out and still do a job. That’s what I get paid to do and that’s what I enjoy doing. Anything but promotion is a fail for me. I don’t care who is in charge.
“It was portrayed as more than it was on the outside. There was nothing bad going on at the training ground.
“We are still footballers and we still have to go out and pull that shirt on and represent that crest. Nothing changes, it really doesn’t.
“To me if we win the game that is all that matters, I don’t think about anything negative going around.
“It is great to be back. I have never had an injury before really, not a lot of people knew it was a posterior cruciate.
“I came back and did it again because I came back too quickly, not through anyone’s fault.
“I thought I was ready to return but after three or four minutes I aggravated it.”