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Blackburn Rovers set for survival under Tony Mowbray

Tuesday 7th March 2017
A narrow 2-1 loss to Manchester United in the FA Cup was not enough for Owen Coyle to convince the Blackburn Rovers hierarchy that he was the right man to steer them to survival in the Championship. It came as a slight shock to many outside of the Championship bubble. Coyle's team had played fairly well, and if they had repeated such performances they would surely beat the drop.

Yet, to those in the know, Blackburn Rovers have been steadily heading for relegation all season. Something was needed to arrest this potentially ruinous slump.

With Rovers financially under the cosh, a relegation could be enough to spell disaster.

Enter Mowbray

To help fix this Tony Mowbray was appointed. Social media was soon awash with scepticism and mock. He was, apparently, an uninspiring and unambitious appointment and many doubted whether or not he was the man to steady the Rovers ship. His last job was with Coventry City and look where they are now.

But, what many did not know was that the Blackburn Rovers faithful had grown so apathetic to Coyle, that any fresh face would enough to unite a fractious support. Thus, upon Mowbray's appointment, a fan base united and have given their team an extra push in recent games.

New Manager Syndrome

Indeed, Mowbray's opening three games have seen Rover's clinch seven points: wins against Wigan and Derby, and an away draw at Burton Albion. These are no light feats; Wigan and Burton both represented huge clashes as both are survival rivals, and Derby are backed by a talented and multi-faceted squad.

Blackburn is now the form team at the bottom and look set to beat the drop. Mowbray has instilled the one ingredient necessary for a relegation fight: desire. Rovers' players are willing to put their bodies on the line, put their face in where it hurts and scrap for victory. Sheer determination has produced two wins and a draw in three matches. No Championship team would choose to face them given their current revival.

Yet, it is not all fight. Mowbray's side is actually - and admirably so - attacking ambitious. They are willing to take the game to their opponents and have the quality and guile to carve out opportunities. Danny Graham, Sam Gallagher, Marvin Emnes and Liam Feeney have shouldered the responsibility of creativity in recent weeks and look fit for the challenge.

Two 1-0 victories speak to an ability to be clinical in front of goal, and then set up in a defensively organised fashion. Such resilience should be the backbone of any side intent on surviving relegation.

Emnes' solo goal against Wigan was symbolic of this call to individual responsibility. He took the ball from the half-way line and went unheeded until he reached the penalty area, then dispatching a composed shot into the far corner. And that is what differentiates this current Blackburn team from its predecessors; the players appear to be taking responsibility for their own game. There is a nice balance being struck at Ewood Park - individual responsibility and collective spirit.

If Blackburn Rovers carry on demonstrating such commitment and determination, they'll be safe. But, Mowbray certainly faces a task in continuing such desire and will have to wary of a potential end to this honeymoon period.
Michael Jones

Football & political writer with a predictable love of everything retro. English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter, looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. For a collection of my work, visit. http://mikejonesmedia.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @jonesmichael_97

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