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Tony Mowbray exclusive: Sporting Life goes behind the scenes at Blackburn Rovers to get the manager's view from the experienced head coach

Tony Mowbray talks to Sporting Life about his managing career and philosophy
Tony Mowbray talks to Sporting Life about his managing career and philosophy

Tony Mowbray is entering his 17th year as a manager, and his 37th in senior football, yet his passion, enthusiasm and love for the game continues to burn brighter than ever.

Spend just a few moments on the side of the Blackburn Rovers training pitches, as Sportinglife.com was luckily enough to do this week, and you can see those elements ooze out of the 55-year-old.

As the team go through shooting practice, a process Mowbray will no doubt have watched almost every day of his 17 years as a gaffer, he is still kicking every ball, encouraging every shot, celebrating every goal and offering fatherly advice with every miss.

The Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for January has led Rovers to the edge of the play-offs in their first season back in the second tier, when some predicted a relegation fight. That comes off the back of returning the club to the Championship at the first time of asking, winning Sky Bet League One in 2017-18.

It is Mowbray's belief that football is an inclusive game, where every element of a club must be recognised, included and treated fairly, and that has played such a healing and pivotal role in the rebuilding of a northern team ripped apart by off-the-field in-fighting and the financial traumas of Premier League relegation over recent years.

"We are trying to build a club after the depression of being relegated and then managing to find a way out of that division, which is tough in itself," Mowbray exclusively told Sportinglife.com.

"It took Sheffield United seven years to get out of it and now look at them. Chris Wilder has shown that if you can build a team in your mould, get the environment and attitude right then you can get to where you want to be.

"We are further behind Sheffield United at the moment, but we aim to get to where they are one day soon. At the moment it is hard to compete in this league with big clubs around us, with more money. We are just fighting and aiming to give a bloody nose to some of those bigger clubs.

Tony Mowbray and Adam Armstrong with their January awards
Tony Mowbray and Adam Armstrong scooped both Sky Bet Championship January Awards for Blackburn

"However, I must remind myself this club won the Premier League back in 1995 and there is an expectation to get back up there. We are looking to build a team and improve on the talent we already have here to be in a position to get out of this league in the future."

Mowbray has always been a leader, a man who's commanded respect, ever since he took the captain's armband at Middlesbrough as a 22-year-old. As skipper he led Boro back to the top flight of English football and repeated the feat with Ipswich in 2000.

As a manger he has taken the qualities that brought him success as a player into the dug out, believing actions not words bring you respect and success.

It has clearly worked over the years, with promotion to the Premier League with West Brom, a Scottish Cup with Celtic and now a promotion with Rovers.

"I feel as a manager you have to have honesty, integrity and humility in everything you do on a daily basis. You have to set the standards - not by telling players, but by doing. Show your work ethic - be the first one in in the morning and the last one out at night.


Our latest Sky Bet EFL Championship Podcast is available to listen to on iTunes and Soundcloud
Our latest Sky Bet EFL Championship Podcast is available to listen to on iTunes and Soundcloud

The latest episode of our Sky Bet EFL Championship Podcast is out now and free for you to download and listen to via iTunes and Soundcloud.

This week - Noel Whelan, Gareth Jones, Tom Carnduff and Dom Newton-Collinge reflect on another weekend of late drama, plenty of goals and thrilling games.

Click on the image to listen.


"Have an open door policy for the players, so they know they can come and discuss their problems with you at any time and that no problem is too small or too big.

"Try to create an environment where players want to improve and get better. They feel included in how you select your style and how you are going to play.

"My advice to any new manager is 'find your own way' and base your methods around your personality and belief systems.

"There is no point being Mr Angry if you are not an angry person. There is no point trying to be calm all the time if you are boiling inside and want to kick things over.

"Talk, ask questions, watch as much as you can. Live your life for the game and have a strong work ethic."

The development of the likes of Adam Armstrong - the Sky Bet Championship January Player of the Month - and Bradley Dack, coupled with the form of older players like Jack Rodwell have inspired the Lancashire club's impressive campaign.

Again, you can see Mowbray's imprint in the culture around the training ground. The players are happy to be there, enjoying each other's company, laughing and joking with each other, but working hard when the time is called upon.

Mowbray speaks in public about his players like a proud father, who has watched his talented lads use hard work to earn their success.

That trait is replicated in how he interacts with the players directly behind the scenes. Encouraging his young charges, promoting their attributes, building their confidence and teaching them that teamwork and friendship are the keys to success.

"Our team spirit and camaraderie is what allows us to punch above our weight. Our collective togetherness allows us to compete with teams that have spent more money and have higher individual talent in their side.

"Just go into our dinning room and you can see the players all lining up to play pool, laughing and joking with each other and having fun.

"Part of the secret for any top team is that the players enjoy each other's company, they respect each other's talent and they want to work hard for each other. That's what we have here and it is a good basis to start rebuilding this club from."


Blackburn Rovers betting (odds via Sky Bet)

  • Blackburn to be promoted - 200/1
  • Blackburn to finish in the top-six - 28/1
  • Blackburn to make the play-offs - 33/1
  • Blackburn to finish in the top-half - 13/8
  • Blackburn to finish higher than Preston - 5/4

Click on the odds to view the relevant market


Odds correct at 1400 GMT (14/02/18)

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Most Read Football

Get all the latest football gossip from the day's back pages
1

Paper Talk: No Rash decisions

Man United will have to boost Marcus Rashford's wages significantly if they're to stave off interest from Spain - don't miss a bumper edition of Paper Talk.

We celebrate the best bets that have come in over weekend2

Weekend Winners: Bacon jokes

Value Bet tipster Ben Linfoot warmed up for Royal Ascot with a juicy 10/1 winner on Saturday while there were big wins at the weekend for a couple of Sky Bet customers.

Sporting Life picks out the top five events or fixtures of the week3

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