To say the club that finishes first in the Championship is promoted, Fulham’s dominance of England’s second division is even more impressive. Every time they’ve fallen back into the league, they’ve bounced straight back. It seems almost nailed on that they’ll do the same again this season with barely any competition.
At least, it did until Blackburn Rovers mounted a title challenge from out of nowhere. The East Lancashire club has had a tough time of things in the last decade, especially with rivals Burnley transforming into a stable Premier League outfit. However, Blackburn could be on the same trajectory thanks to the following.
Tony Mowbray has overseen Rovers since 2017. In today’s hire-them-and-fire-them culture, his tenure makes the experienced coach one of the longest-serving managers in the English Football League. As a result, the club has finally found some stability it sorely lacked ever since Sam Allardyce left in 2010. For example, Mowbray has built a solid squad that can lean on genuine quality players, such as Ben Brereton Díaz and Bradley Dack.
Rising through the leagues and the rankings has been a direct knock-on effect of giving the former-Middlesbrough man the time he needs to work his magic. For instance, after returning to the Championship in 2018, the club comfortably avoided a relegation battle for three years, before putting together a run of form that sees that currently sit second and only two wins behind Fulham.
Rovers are playing so well under Mowbray’s guidance that the football betting markets continue to rank them as the new second-favourites for an automatic promotion place. As this guide by Mark Langdon highlights, there are so many variables to consider when selecting markets and odds that any team near the top of the list is doing something right. Considering Rovers have lost once in the Championship since the beginning of November, their formula is certainly effective.
Tony Mowbray has been named in the EFL Team of the Season so far. 👏
Congrats, boss! ™️
An Essential Venky’s Compromise
Venky’s, the owners, haven’t covered themselves in glory since purchasing Blackburn Rovers Football Club for around £25 million in 2010. News reports that the company wasn’t aware of the relegation process only added to the supporter’s dismay, as did the demands on then-manager Steve Kean, who was expected to travel to Pune for weekly debriefs.
The fans regularly voiced their anger, with most weekends featuring a march that was aimed at Venky’s ownership. Thankfully, for the club, the heat has finally cooled, partly because the fans are no longer reacting any time things don’t go right on the pitch. However, the owners also deserve credit since they have essentially admitted their lack of expertise and handed over the reins to the chief executive, Steve Waggott.
Gone are the days when the football fraternity laughed at Blackburn’s processes. For example, wanting to sign Ronaldinho, David Beckham, and Real Madrid legend Raul, but instead ending up with Mauro Formica. Or hiring and sacking six managers in four years. With Waggott assisting Mowbray, the club seems to have a plan to return to the Promised Land of European football, forcing the fans to cut the owners some slack and the owners to humbly leave the big decisions to a proven partnership.
With around a quarter of the season left to play, Blackburn supporters might not be fully convinced until the campaign is over. No one can blame them as it’s good to be sceptical. Still, the evidence points to the fact that they should be optimistic for the first time since the Walker family sold up.