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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Peripheral vision, ball on half-turn, weight of pass, says Blackburn’s manager, Mowbray

Mowbray shares his thoughts on how he plans to get the club back to where they belong, club recruitment and Indian prodigy Aniket Jadhav

pune Updated: May 28, 2019 16:39 IST
Pranav Shahaney
Pranav Shahaney
Hindustan Times, Pune
Tony Mowbray, the Blackburn Rovers manager
Tony Mowbray, the Blackburn Rovers manager(SHANKAR NARAYAN/HT PHOTO)

Tony Mowbray, the Blackburn Rovers manager, was in the city last week to meet up with the club owners, Venkys, to discuss transfer business for the coming season. Blackburn boss Mowbray aims to emulate Burnley as club seeking top-flight return after eight years. The Englishman has guided the Lancashire-based club to a 15th place finish in the Championship in their first campaign after being promoted up from League One. Mowbray shares his thoughts on how he plans to get the club back to where they belong, club recruitment and Indian prodigy Aniket Jadhav.

There’s been a lot of buzz in the Indian media about Aniket Jadhav’s stint at Blackburn Rovers. What is your take on the player?

He came up and trained one afternoon and I think that would benefit him – playing with experienced professional footballers at Championship level (one level below EPL). He’s only a young boy, but he showed that he had good basics to his game and he was able to join in with the session. He was enthusiastic, he worked hard with the group and hopefully he enjoyed it. I’m sure the daily training at the Academy will have helped him. I would hope that the professional level of coaching he got at an elite-level academy will stand him in good stead for the future and create habits that will hopefully become rooted and become part of the foundation of his career. The fine detail of football is what matters. The ability to receive the ball on the half-turn or the weight of your pass. I call them the building blocks of your career. Basic football skills that the best players you don’t even notice they do it, but they all do it naturally.

Were there any drawbacks in his (Jadhav’s) game that you felt is a cultural thing and other upcoming Indian footballers could learn from those mistakes?

His habits at the top level, the little things that he doesn’t quite do naturally are quite obvious to me. He doesn’t have this peripheral vision. You should be knowing what your (teammates) are doing without really turning around to look. He has to develop these things from repetition every single day, maybe for years for some people. I played football professionally for 18-20 years. I learned my trade as a 10-year-old boy every day with the ball in the garden. I don’t see those natural instincts that top players at his age might have developed from doing what I did - practicing without practicing.

There’s been talk of Blackburn taking their recruitment overseas. Do you think doing things differently compared to other Championship clubs is what will help the club push for premier league promotion?

The recruitment department is something we want to grow. Yes, it is costing us a little bit more, but it is something you have to do to go to the next level. We need to do it because the European market is cheaper than the English market as the Premier League has created a false economy, spending millions and millions for everybody. If you go to Europe and find real talent, you don’t have to pay as much for the player. We’re looking for the kind of player we can buy for x (value of the player) and sell him for 5x and 10x.

Being relegated to League One after being a stable Premier League club less than a decade ago... How do you the think the current crop of players is dealing with it?

The dressing room morale is amazing. In my 15 years as a manager it is probably the best dressing room I’ve seen. Even when I came in for the final 15 games of the relegation season, we only lost three so we had already started to build on the mentality to make the players realise that they could be a really competitive team.

It was a difficult summer when we got relegated as so many players wanted to leave as they didn’t see themselves playing in League One, but once everything settled down they realised they weren’t going to be sold and got promoted with 96 points. The success we enjoyed in that season was something that built a bond in the team and we carried that momentum on in the Championship to finish 15th.

You took over the club in dire straits with fans and owners at crossroads. How much time did it take you to get the fans onside?

When I arrived there was a bit of negativity, the team was struggling and it looked like we

were headed for relegation. Steve [Waggott] and I both knew that we had to connect with the supporters as they deserve honesty.

Sometimes, when we lose it’s difficult to talk in front of the fans as they only want to keep winning. The days we get beat, they don’t want the manager coming out and making excuses. It was a difficult summer when we got relegated as so many players wanted to leave , but once everything settled down we got promoted with 96 points.

Do you see Blackburn following the Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves) module or perhaps emulating another English side?

If you put a microscope on Wolves, Jorge Mendes is the personality behind that club and is arguably the world’s biggest football agent.

He’s infiltrated Wolves and brought Champions League level players playing in the Championship. He also didn’t bring them for astronomical fees, but for subsided values, knowing Wolves can get promoted with those kind of players. If you look at Burnley who also finished 7th in the year before, were struggling against relegation this season.

So, I think aspiring to do what Burnley did a few seasons back and what Norwich and Sheffield United have done now is something what Blackburn Rovers can do.

Champions League final is this weekend and two managers hungry for silverware will be squaring off. Between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, who would you be rooting for?

I will be watching the Champions League final with my family on our holiday in Greece. I will be cheering for Liverpool. Whilst I like Tottenham and grew up watching Glenn Hoddle, but I think Liverpool deserve to win the Champions League, given the season they’ve had. Tottenham have their new stadium and are doing exceptionally well too. People might say they deserve to win a trophy too but I think Liverpool’s need and cause is greater. I like the way Klopp plays his football. He plays aggressive football, always on the front foot and has world class attackers. Two English teams and it is bound to be a great game.

First Published: May 28, 2019 16:37 IST

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