It was clear that a change was required at Ewood Park if Blackburn were to turn around their fortunes, the club couldn’t ever quite find their form under Owen Coyle and only picked up 11 wins from the 37 games under the former Burnley manager. From his time at Coventry, Mowbray is a manager who has experience of the type of situation that Blackburn are currently in, with the League One side struggling financially as well as on the pitch, but the Yorkshireman successfully took the team to safety in the 2014/15 season before leading them to an 8th placed finish the following campaign. It would be easy to be sceptical of Mowbray considering the recent form of Coventry, failing to win any of their first 10 games of this season, but it is important that Rovers fans recognise just how good a job he did in previous seasons with the Midlands side.
Mowbray has arrived at Blackburn with the usual speech that you often hear from a manager joining a team in a lower division, that has a history at the highest level. The former Coventry manager spoke about how Rovers had a Premier League set-up and how getting back there was the ultimate aim, but safety from relegation to League One was obviously the number one priority. However, in addition to the normal script, Mowbray has arrived with a clear plan in mind for how he is going to turn Blackburn Rovers around. He has identified that the defence is the main area that needs to be improved and has added that while he is happy with the coaching staff he has currently available, he would be looking to bring in his own staff if given the chance over the summer. Mowbray has given the impression of a man that knows the league, knows how to win games in it, and will no doubt provide Rovers fans with a bit of hope about this appointment.
It was a steady start to life for Mowbray as he led his side to a draw against fellow strugglers Burton Albion on Friday night. Rovers were dominant in the first half and were well worth their lead at the half, but Burton fought back in the second and nearly took all three points after a shot by Lasse Vigen Christensen struck both posts in injury time. However, Rovers were good value for their point and the first half performance, in particular, would have really pleased the Rovers faithful.
Another encouraging note that came from this game was that Blackburn came away from the Pirelli Stadium with 72% possession. The Lancashire club have averaged 48% during the course of the season, so to travel away to a club above them in the league and dictate possession to the extent they did, bodes well for Mowbray and his side. It is a cause for optimism for Blackburn that they can control a game for long periods like they did on Friday night. It also shows the squad does have the strength and a number of talented players that are more than capable of keeping the club in the Championship. The team has a good mix of youth and experience, including a number of players that have played in the top flight, which is crucial when fighting in a relegation battle.
A player that will be key for the Lancashire outfit, if they are to stay up this season, is Danny Graham. The former Sunderland and Swansea man has had times in his career where he has struggled to find the net, including an infamous one goal in three years during his time at Sunderland, but the 31-year-old has found some form this season and will be hoping that he can continue to work well with the likes of Craig Conway and Marvin Emnes in the final third of the season.
It will be a tough task for Mowbray to turn around the fortunes of Blackburn Rovers, but an encouraging first outing for his new side and having dealt with clubs experiencing a lack of stability both on and off the pitch, he will have given the Rovers fans something to be optimistic about after what has been a pretty miserable season so far. The former Middlesbrough manager has arrived with perhaps the most impressive CV of any manager that has taken the reins during the Venky’s ownership and he will be hoping that this knowledge and expertise will be enough to keep Blackburn in the Championship.