Tony Mowbray will next month mark four years in charge of Rovers and before then will reach 200 matches in charge of the club he joined in February 2017.

Mowbray returns to his boyhood club Middlesbrough on Sunday as Rovers look to kickstart a season which has stuttered of late, with just two wins in nine matches seeing them drop to 12th in the table.

An unbeaten November and positive start to December had moved Rovers into play-off contention, and while Mowbray says his side are just another good run away from being back in the mix, he knows they must find a level of consistency if they are to challenge.

Mowbray was the main guest on this week’s EFL podcast, hosted by Mark Clemmit, and spoke in detail about a number of issues, including the relationship with the club’s owners, the recent form, and possible January interest in Adam Armstrong.


Mowbray on his tenure…

“I like technical footballers, the journey I’ve been on at Blackburn, I inherited the club in 2017, we had 15 games, we only lost three of those games, and went down having won on the final day at Brentford.

“We had to re-acclimatise, I flew to India to see whether I still had a job.  I thought we’d done enough to show that we can manage footballers and try and turn things around.

“We didn’t manage to do enough to avoid relegation but we won some games and the team started to take shape.

“It’s a journey we’ve been on since then, after 11 games in League One we were trying to play a brand of football I like, a possession game, dominate the ball, I felt we had better players than League One and we should be able to do that.

“We had lots of the ball but lost four of those 11 games and I decided with Danny Graham at the club to go more direct, we’d signed Dack by that point and that combination just clicked.

“We missed out teams playing with nine men behind the ball, Graham is as good with anyone I’ve ever seen with his body, his hips and keeping the ball around the box and Dacky did what he does.

“We brought Dacky in and he took it really quickly, developed relationship really fast, and we had a great season, 96 points. It was a great chase with Wigan.

“We did enough to get out of League One, scored a lot of games, won a lot of games, and since then we’ve been consolidate.”


Mowbray on adapting to life in the Championship after promotion…

“That first year you have to consolidate, the gulf is big, the Championship you have a lot of teams who have come out of the Premier League with huge wage bills and salaries.

“We consolidated, last year the intention was to get better which we did. We got 63 points, I’ve been challenging them this season to push for the top six.

“This is Blackburn Rovers who won the Premier League in 1995, it’s a big club, the infrastructure behind the club and the training is Premier League.

“We had to re-set our parameters of having a mentality that we should be competing for the top six, not be happy with mid-table, and we started this season with a different mindset, a brand.

“Danny Graham had moved on, Richie Smallwood, Charlie Mulgrew, three players who were the bedrock of our League One season.

“We moved on from being direct and going back to what I believe in how teams should be playing, dominating the ball, possession, scoring goals and creating chances, and generally we started really well.

“We scored five in our first home game at Wycombe, went to Derby and scored four, and scored three or four pretty regularly.

“Armstrong got himself to the top of the scoring charts, Harvey Elliott came in with amazing feel in his feet, the way he can spin that ball around the corner and Armstrong is in, Adam runs as soon as Harvey gets it, and we scored lots of goals and everyone was really on board.

“I think we’ve stuttered of late, we’ve lost our consistency, we’ve probably had over the piece eight or nine positive Covid tests which has interrupted us, we’ve lost all three centre halves, Daniel Ayala, an experienced player who we signed who’s had two promotions, Scotty Wharton and Derrick Williams have got long-term injuries.

“Three centre halves are missing and we’ve struggled a little bit.

“We went through a spell with no right backs, we played a left back at right back, and we’ve hit a period where we’ve not been able to have consistency of selection.

“The games coming thick and fast, we’ve just lost the consistency but we feel that win three in the bounce and we’re back in the top six challenge and that’s our aim, to push on and try and win matches.”


Mowbray on a show of faith from Liverpool…

“We’ve played Liverpool two in the last three years and Jurgen has seen our team and likes the way we play, and trusts us to put the right habits into their young players.

“Harvey is a very, very young player of course, but he has amazing talent and I’m sure he has a big, big future infront of him.”


Mowbray on possibility January interest in Adam Armstrong…

“I’m not nervous. I’ve spoken to a few Premier League managers about our players over the last week or two.

“I find it difficult to bend the answers, I’ll tell it as it is, and Adam Armstrong is a young boy, I’ve had him twice now.

“He scored 20 goals for me at Coventry in his first loan out of Newcastle, and thankfully we managed to get him permanently here.

“Is he ready for the Premier League? I believe that young players should play football, and with total respect to Adam, this is me telling one or two managers that he still has a lot to learn and I wouldn’t see him as the answer to go to the Premier League now and start banging in loads of goals.

“The Championship is a totally different level. Adam is asset rich, he’s lightning fast off the mark, plays on shoulders, and if you have a quality of a Harvey Elliott or Lewis Holtby who can put it in the grass behind, he can score with both feet, he can score all kinds of goals.

“He can shoot from distance, he can side-foot it in with both feet, is very clinical.

“When he goes to the Premier League which I’m sure he will, and I hope that’s with us and takes us there by scoring so many goals.

“Sometimes as a club, our club do, we estimate what our squad is worth and what price do you put on an Adam Armstrong?

“If a Premier League come trying to buy a young player, Championship clubs can rarely turn down the numbers that they can afford. If they want them they can pay whatever it is.

“It’s difficult to look my players in the eye, I want them all to succeed and to play in the Premier League and have the glory. I want to sit in my armchair and watch them playing in the Premier League watching them on Match of the Day.

“Part of what I’m about is developing young players. At the same time I want to win, I have to win, Blackburn Rovers fans don’t just want me to develop players to go and play for someone else.

“They want us to develop players to score goals for us and help us compete at the top end of the Championship.

“I think the likes of Rothwell is an amazing talent and one or two people ask about Joe who we brought in from Oxford, young Nyambe, we’ve got lots of young players.

“When I leave this club, whenever it is, next week, next year, five years time, you have to leave it in a better place than what you found it and this club has assets, players who can play in the Premier League.

“Some we’ve bought and are developing and we’re on a journey. Everyone wants to get there today, tomorrow, as fast as you can, and that’s sometimes a problem in the world we live in with social media, radio stations and newspapers, everyone has a platform to tell you what you’re doing wrong and how you’re picking the wrong team, why you’re making the wrong substitutions.

“I think we’re on a journey, the young players are enjoying it, we have to find some consistency but I’m confident we can finish the season strong and I’m confident that we can get some of our injuries back, get some stability in defence, Jarrad plays like an experienced player. For such a young boy he’s amazing calm, and I’m hoping we can pick a consistent team and get back to consistent victories.”


Mowbray on owners Venky’s…

“We’re all living in a world with no fans, if we don’t win football matches, Blackburn Rovers fans of a certain age remember Shearer and Sutton, the team that won the Premier League and what we do might never be enough for some supporters.

“Who they blame is generally the manager who gets the stick for the team not winning, but for a long time at Blackburn it was the owner that gets the stick.

“When they took over they were embedded in the Premier League, big Sam was in charge and they were doing okay. When I joined we were 15 games off going into League One. That’s where that came from, the mistrust.

“I’ve been to India four or five times, I’ve met the owners, I find them humble, honest, full of integrity, business people who wouldn’t profess to be experts in football.

“I hope that I’ve brought a football mentality, I bring values to a club, I live my life by a certain set of values and I’m from a working class family and I know what’s right and wrong and how to deal with life and that’s what they get from me, open and honesty, and that’s what my team get from me as well.

“I think the owners understand that if we’ve had difficult times, I think they know the ship is being steered in the right direction and it will turn again.

“They see the fact we’ve been without three central defenders recently, playing a midfielder at centre half and a left back at right back. I hope the fans see that and we’re all pushing in the right direction which is crucial at every football club.

“There’s no guarantee you’ll win matches, especially in the Championship, because every team is super organised and fit and you have to be at it every single game. It’s a tough, tough league.

“You have to come out on top in tight football matches, they’re all tight.

“We started the season like a house on fire with fours and fives, but as the trudge of this division goes on, the games become tougher.”