Steve Kean may just have the touch required to dig Blackburn Rovers and himself out of their hole. Second bottom going into this one and with a section of supporters demanding he be sacked, the manager knew his fate was tied to his ability to conjure a run of results.
Somehow he began here, fashioning a 3-3 draw that allowed Kean a far less awkward sit-down on Sunday with Venkatesh and Balaji Rao, the club's owners, in Manchester where they were due to discuss the January transfer policy and budget and how best to move the Rovers project forward. "When it gets to the window time and it's open I'm sure we'll have funds," he said.
Wigan Athletic's future is also uncertain, with their chairman, Dave Whelan, revealing this could be his last season in control of the club as he weighs handing over the reins to his 21-year-old grandson David.
With his 75th birthday on Thursday, the former Blackburn full-back told FC Business magazine: "The time comes for everyone when you need to retire or take a step back because you're simply not what you used to be. What I would like to do is create a dynasty here at Wigan Athletic. My grandson is a bright boy and is massively keen on football and Wigan Athletic. I'm inclined to let him have a go and I hope that happens."
David Dunn's second-half sending‑off, Míchel Salgado's concussion, an extremely dodgy second Rovers goal and a last-kick, point-sharing penalty from Yakubu Ayegbeni – won by Paul Robinson, the goalkeeper – were the headline incidents from an afternoon of top value.
Kean said: "Yeah, it was a fantastic start then all of a sudden you find yourself behind and we'd said: 'The most important thing is to end with 11 players on the pitch.' And right early on in the second half we lose Dunn."
Yakubu opened the scoring after 67 seconds, Jordi Gómez equalised a few minutes later and Gary Caldwell sent Wigan into the break ahead. Kean was staring at the result he could not afford: defeat.
After Dunn's second yellow card proceedings brightened courtesy of an illegal corner. Yakubu put the ball down in the quadrant but did not touch it. Morten Gamst Pedersen then took the kick to himself, strolling towards Ali al-Habsi's goal with the ball before playing in David Hoilett to equalise.
Roberto Martínez, the Wigan manager, was incensed that Andre Marriner had allowed the goal – the referee appeared to have his back turned when Pedersen took over at the corner flag. "The decision is hard to take and hard to explain," Martínez said.
Albert Crusat's 88th-minute finish under Robinson's body seemed to kill the game and render Kean's nascent career almost moribund. But that was before Yakubu's second, from the spot, left his manager hailing the spirit of his band.
"The lads are disappointed," Kean said. "David's really disappointed [to be sent off] but we've got the kind of dressing room where the lads put their hands up – Paul Robinson is saying: 'Sorry, lads, I shouldn't have needed to get a penalty for us in the last minutes', because he should do better than the goal where the lad has toe-poked it.
"But that's the type of characters we've got: we're genuine, we're really honest with each other, and I think that shows in our play."
Kean did concede that the supporters who continue to chant for his removal are not helping: "No, it's not ideal. But I think when the fans go home and when they sit and reflect on how we played and how we came back [they'll be happy]. We've lost [Christopher] Samba, Martin Olsson, Salgado's got concussion, we've a man sent off, we've thrown a lad on – Adam Henley – to play his debut, we're in the wars, we're down to the bare bones, [yet] they just won't stop keeping coming and playing. They're playing for each other. If you want to say they're playing for me, that's great, but they're playing for each other."
The result meant the bottom two ended the weekend as they began, with Rovers a point ahead of Athletic. Martínez was as cheerful as ever when claiming alarm bells are not yet clanging: "No. In the same way that if we'd won people would have said it was a great chance for Wigan to get out of the bottom three and I would say to them that if they look at the fixture list for December, maybe they'd change their minds," he said of a month that includes Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United in rapid succession.
"You have to play them. You have to play everyone and the most important thing is that you're not in the bottom three in May. That's the objective.
"It's easy to draw an opinion looking at the table and normally it's very confusing. But the level of performance was outstanding. We need to focus on Sunderland [on Saturday] and make sure we get that little bit of luck to count against what we lost today."