Following Rovers’ FA Cup exit to League One side Doncaster Rovers, calls for Tony Mowbray to leave the club appeared to intensify on social media.
Like everything surrounding football, there are a varying range of opinions on the subject, and I have one as well – but I won’t get into that here.
We asked our Twitter followers (@rovers_chat if you haven’t followed us already) for their thoughts on the subject, with a number of them submitting their takes on the subject.
Please note, these views are not representative of Rovers Chat, and are the views of the individual who submitted them.
Dear Rovers Chat,
I’m in the Mowbray In camp for now, despite watching a terrible FA Cup game earlier, but I do feel this will be his last opportunity at the club. However, he must be given the full season.
If he gets us in the play-offs, he has achieved the goal – to get us promoted would be even better but very tough in the play-off lottery.
Dack is back now, and with Armstrong having a good season and the loan signing of Harvey Elliott, the second half of the season looks good (on paper!) – I just hope he gets another centre-back in to get us over the line.
He has been unlucky on the injury front this year, but the team has improved and stability is back at the club after what could only be described as a circus in years gone by. It is worth noting that I am a distant Rovers fan and don’t currently watch the pay-per-view games. Instead, I follow on Twitter and Quest highlights, but wanted to give my thoughts from afar.
I value those opinions of those who watch Rovers games on a regular basis and have seen a split decision in opinions.
Nowadays, football fans who frequent social media tend to be a little more reactionary than those
back in the 1990’s, who’d have a pint after the match, discuss the match the win, lose or draw and
then go home and read the match report in the Lancashire Evening Telegraph on a Monday
afternoon or teatime. After the dismal defeat to Doncaster Rovers in the FA Cup at Ewood on
Saturday, as ever, fans were out in force on Twitter offering their opinion about the match,
formation, tactics, opportunities missed and poor (and that is being generous) defending for the
There is an ever increasing sense, in my mind at least, that the tenure of Tony Mowbray will end the
same way as that of Gary Bowyer – not fans calling for his head outright but more of a ‘yeah, it’s
probably the right decision for the team to progress’. The similarities are stark – nice guy, talks well
about the club and game in general and has a very good forward line, however with Bowyer and his
win, lose, draw, repeat results compared to the ‘boom and bust’ of Mowbray over the course of the
season the end result is the same – mid table with the sense of a lost opportunity.
The facts also show a clear lack of progress on the pitch in the Championship:
– 2016/17 – P15 – W05 – D07 – L03 – Pts 67 (pro rata)
– 2018/19 – P46 – W16 – D12 – L18 – Pts 60
– 2019/20 – P46 – W17 – D12 – L17 – Pts 63
– 2020/21 – P23 – W09 – D05 – L09 – Pts 64 (pro rata)
Eight windows into his tenure, the team, squad, style of play and consistent inconsistency all fall upon
Mowbray and the decisions he has made. The question is, are you a fan of stability or growing
increasing frustrated with the stagnant malaise seemingly enveloping the club?
For all that Mowbray has done for Blackburn Rovers, I don’t think I could ever be in the “Mowbray Out” band – he came in when we were at our lowest and heading for the abyss, almost miraculously kept us up, got us promoted back to the Championship at the first time of asking and immediately established us a mid-table or better Championship team, and has got us playing football that is pleasing on the eye, if not results-winning at the minute, but there is a definite style of play, something in the past I think we’ve lacked.
That said, recent results and, to an extent, performances, have been frustrating and I understand why fans are beginning to turn on Mowbray and ask for change. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and in football many are divided even within the same fanbase, but for me the problems with changing Mowbray are as follows:
– Fans are frustrated that we aren’t making an assault on the play-offs, as Mowbray set as a goal back in September, but the only reason we can even talk about play offs being within our grasp is because of the squad Mowbray has put together and the style of play he has implemented. Yes, arguably he should be doing better with the squad of players, but he assembled this squad, without him, there’s a good chance we wouldn’t have the quality of squad we have.
– Is finishing mid-table in a season during a global pandemic when fans can’t attend, and income is significantly down really the end of the world? Given the impact of no fans being at games, the clubs with income outside of matchdays (i.e. parachute payments) have a distinct advantage over those who don’t have the same income. For me, if Mowbray can keep the majority of this side together and tie key players like Nyambe and Rothwell etc down to new contracts, and finish with more points or higher up the table than last season, I’ll be happy with that, and push on next season when things are back to more of a sense of normality. Yes, Mowbray said he expected us to push for a spot in the play-off when asked about his targets pre-season, but if he comes out in September and says he’d be happy with a mid-table finish in a season like no other, he is going to get pelters for a lack of ambition.
– What are the alternatives? There is no manager that I can think of that is currently available that could come in and work with this squad and guarantee us a better finish and/or style of play than what Mowbray is currently giving us, and during a season where income is low anyway, risking relegation could be catastrophic. With Mowbray, I think as a minimum we can expect a mid-table finish with a potential late dash or flirt with the play-offs, but to change manager, and potential playing style, especially with so many players out of contract in the summer, is too big a risk given the consequences on and off the pitch. We don’t have the best track record when it comes to replacing managers either.
If seen some corners saying that if we don’t make the play-offs this season would be seen as a failure – I think that’s a bit strong, a disappointment yes, but not a failure. I still believe Mowbray is the man to take us forward and to an extent I think 2020-21 is a bit of a free hit due to the COVID-19 impacts, with Mowbray’s contract up in 2022, I think he’s earnt the right to at least see the contract out and see where we are then.
When Tony took the reins of this wild stallion of a club, we were all wondering whether he could tame it. After four months of trying it looked as though it was only fit for the knacker’s yard. Major surgery was needed from top to bottom, so Tony began the operation.
League One was the start of the rehabilitation and it was without doubt a huge success, and this stallion began to calm down. There was a clear path of communication between owners and tamer, and a trust began to develop. Something nobody else had been able to achieve.Embed from Getty Images
Slowly but surely we saw that this great beast could be on the way back. Gradual progression, season by season, followed and a lot of us began the current campaign thinking the horse hadn’t looked as strong as this since the owners arrived. Money has been spent on grooming it to be able to challenge but perhaps not in the right areas.
Injuries have without doubt scuppered the plans, but questions of the whether the jockey has enough about him to succeed in winning the big races are now being asked.
Personally speaking, I believe new ideas are needed when it comes to race day. A fresh approach but one that includes Tony moving upstairs. I will be forever grateful for everything he has done in bringing the horse back to life but, to turn it into a prize winner, I think we need a new jockey.
On the subject of Tony Mowbray, I think about what has been made of the poor defence and the lack of a plan B, which I can understand, but not 100% support. You have to think about the number of defensive injuries over the last few seasons especially to the back four, we were about to start playing a potted plant at left back last season as we were so thin at the position! The lack of a consistently available back four leads to unfamiliarity that is obvious at times with some of the errors that are seen.
The Huddersfield game was a spotlight on how thin things have gotten at the back, playing one defender for the last quarter of the game and he was carrying a knock himself! We haven’t had Trav either whom I feel really does help elevate us defensively, when he gets back to 100% it could be another huge boost. We need reinforcements at the back desperately and a little bit more killer instinct in front of goal, and of late we’ve struggled to turn chances Into goals as regularly even though we’ve played beautifully and deserved to win or at least draw a lot of games. It would be nice to have someone like Graham to bring other players in and have that poachers touch. I don’t think we’re bad up top by any means but at times a guy through the middle who can bring players in or just stick his head on a ball or two…I mean there’s Gallagher, but he’s that far left at times I think he’s drifting into politics, he’s a grafter though and has turned my point of view on him around.
As for the plan B, I think when the squad is built like ours and is as thin on numbers at times I’m not sure what the plan B could be, hoof it to Gallagher maybe, play Arma wide? We can’t bully sides in this division as 10-15 of them look like they should be in Gymshark photo line ups and not playing football!
To summarise, I’d say Tony can’t really do too much with things how they are, but there will be doubts and repercussions if we don’t at least look like we’ll make the playoffs. The team knows the style and the tactics so I’m not sure getting rid now will help!
In the current climate where clubs are financially struggling, and to take significant risks could lead to a downfall we might never recover from.
We must remember that Tony Mowbray and those by his side saved us from free falling. He has re-established us as a good Championship side, albeit mid table, where Premier League clubs trust us with their young talent, he cleared out the dross at the club and we now have a strong squad of players with good taken too.Embed from Getty Images
I would allow Tony to finish this season and look to see if there could be a transition of sorts come the summer if we don’t make a serious push towards the playoffs. If we finish poorly which would be below 12th, then lets make sure there is a professional approach with ample time given to lining up the successor. I am frustrated with TM right now but seeing what he has achieved and done, it feels as though we want him to succeed, but perhaps he has reached his limit in bringing Rovers further.
So for now, TM in, but behind the scenes work should be looking at a successor, sooner rather than later I expect.