With Tony Mowbray celebrating 1,000 days in charge at Rovers today, Rich Sharpe has penned 1,000 words to mark the occasion...

The reign of a manager is usually measured by games, wins, draws and defeats. For Rovers managers of the not too distant past, they will be remembered for the number of days. Henning Berg infamously lasted 57 days, while his replacement Michael Appleton managed just 10 more.

For Tony Mowbray, today marks 1,000 days in charge, the first Rovers boss to achieve such a milestone since Mark Hughes. Before that, Graeme Sourness amassed 1,638 at a time when the stability Rovers craved in the last decade was a staple.

Mowbray had been out of work for five months since taking the decision to leave Coventry City when on February 22 2017, his phone rang during a coffee meeting with Gary Pallister and within a few hours he would be swapping a mocha for the motorway and setting his sat-nav for East Lancashire.

Storm Doris was sweeping across the UK, with Mowbray walking in to one of his own, having 15 games to save a Rovers side lacking form, results and confidence.

Days before he had watched Rovers’ FA Cup defeat to Manchester United, blissfully unaware he would be in the dugout for the next game at Burton Albion. Bellowing instructions from the touchline, Mowbray was hoarse when conducting his post-match interviews. The management bug had bitten again.

Immediately new life had been injected in to a group that had previously been coasting. There was a sense of optimism among fans packed in to the terraced away end.

What we know now, from looking back to then, is that Mowbray inherited a group he took a shine to, harnessing a team spirit and re-building confidence. Four of the starting XI at Burton are regulars still now, while Sam Gallagher, a substitute, was snapped up for £5m this summer after a year of trying.

Mowbray has shown faith and loyalty in many of the club’s longest serving players, too much for some, and while his regular team changes have caused confusion at times, his passion for the game and desire to strive for better is unrelenting.

Like any relationship that spans such a length of time, and those in football seem to be getting shorter and shorter, there have been ups and downs, times for patience and calm, anger and disappointment in others.

Even after relegation on the final day at Brentford, and the anger began to subside, fans felt Mowbray was the man to take them forward, they didn’t want another stop-gap, such was the rebuilding job that was needed.

Thankfully, that wasn’t quite as deep as expected, Mowbray receiving the assurances he wanted to keep hold of his more senior and star names. Who would have thought that Jason Steele would be the headline departure that summer and £1.25m splashed on new signings?

Why that was owed much to the way the manager was able to persuade both the owners, and his star names, that a brighter future was on the horizon. Fans had become tired of endless free agents and loan signings, players simply passing through. What Mowbray saw was a chance to stabilise, raising the value of the squad and a level of pride in the shirt.

The promotion from League One won’t rate among the club’s greatest achievements. But that’s not to discredit what Mowbray and his players achieved. Some re-writing of history since would suggest that it was a foregone conclusion.

And while there was a great expectation, many other promotion bankers have hit the buffers, with Rovers looking like joining them after starting with four defeats in 11.

Fast forward six months, and two defeats in 35 games saw promotion sewn up, allowing for a party atmosphere in front of a packed Ewood on the final day. Promotions are rare, whatever the level, it was right to be savoured.

New contracts and new signings followed, Rovers were stabilising.

Recognising the job the manager had done, owners Venky’s rewarded Mowbray with a new long-term deal through to 2022. Four straight wins in January saw Rovers threaten the top six, before nosediving down the table after one win in 11.

Optimism was lifted going in to the summer after a strong end to the campaign. Rovers entered a new chapter, the 2019/20 season, which the manager felt provided the chance for a tilt at the top six.

Mowbray knows his bid to raise expectation levels will increase the level of scrutiny, hence why he’s experiencing arguably the most testing time of his tenure with Rovers in 18th after 16 games.

The £11m spent on Sam Gallagher and Ben Brereton has raised the bar yet still, though Mowbray is keen to add he ‘would rather have that money to spend than not’ with more funds having gone unspent.

Mowbray is currently 16th on the list of longest serving managers in the EFL, second only to Bristol City’s Lee Johnson in the Championship. There feels more than enough room left for more twists on the Rovers rollercoaster.

Spending on infrastructure and behind the scenes details matter little to supporters paying their hard-earned money hoping to see their side to victory at 3pm on a Saturday. To the manager, they are part of a longer-term plan.

He wants to leave the club, whenever that may be, in a better state than which he found it. That’s a given, and even the manager’s most staunch opposition would be hard pushed not to acknowledge the impact he has had.

“I try and build football clubs and evolve them. Sometimes people get sick, supporters generally, of the same voice and same things,” Mowbray said on the eve of this season. “If you don’t win leagues you don’t really last because to finish mid-table won’t be enough for some people.”

He too knows the owners will want a return on their significant investment.

It’s a job he’s now 1,000 days in to. Whatever transpires hereafter, rest assured the current Rovers is a far cry from the one he inherited, on and off the field.