ALL managers appear to be taught a clutch of media cliches on their first day, writes Simon Smith.

They are schooled in ‘sick as a parrot’, ‘over the moon’, ‘we go again’, ‘we’ll regroup’ and ‘I’m sorry, Mr Cellino, I’ll get me coat’.

But Tony Mowbray’s ‘we can take the positives’ after Tuesday’s excellent 2-2 draw at Fulham held water where previous managers’ similar proclamations felt sieve-like.


Positives like 94th-minute equalisers speak for themselves.

It isn’t a great stretch to visualise what may have happened in the last few games if Rovers hadn’t changed manager but thankfully – oh so thankfully – we’ll never know.

What has stood out in games is that where once substitutes sat head-down, sometimes texting or chatting to each other on the bench, they now watch the game. Even a child is told, when on the sidelines, to watch the pattern of play and what weaknesses their potential opponents may possess.

Granted, under the last regime players were unsure whether they’d be coming on at right-back or left winger, so it may have been a futile exercise.

But almost every Mowbray substitution has been effective in some way.

He appears to have a Plan C – and even Plan D – in place where even Gary Bowyer occasionally struggled to find a workable Plan B.

And what about the players who are out of the side or who are subbed?

Well, when the team is doing well and unbeaten, you are in no position to sulk.

You’ve played your part, you have worn down the opposition and you get your acclaim from the fans.

Any supporter would prefer to see 60 minutes of whole-hearted effort over a full game of plodding.

Where not long ago the same group of players struggled to make up an effective 11, now there are 16 or 17 players all of whom we would be happy to see on the pitch.

Lucas Joao has seized an opportunity, Connor Mahoney has proved that he is consistently a threat and if the draw at Norwich felt a little like a loss due to a late equaliser, the point at Fulham felt like that the corner Rovers turned last month is further receding in the rear-view mirror every game.