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Sunderland Unveil New Head Coach Tony Mowbray

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Fan Focus: Blackburn fan Daniel says it was “best for all parties’ that Tony Mowbray left the club!

Ahead of Tony Mowbray’s return to Ewood Park, Matty spoke to Blackburn fan Daniel Ainsworth of Rovers Chat to find out all about their new manager, their season so far... and Ben Brereton-Diaz!

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Matthew Crichton: Tony Mowbray left Blackburn after 5 full seasons in charge this summer, in hindsight do you think it was the right time for a new direction at your club?

Daniel Ainsworth: It was definitely the time to change, and most of the fanbase felt the same for the final few months of last season.

Tony did a great job here and deserves a big round of applause tomorrow, but the performances were becoming slightly stale and the voices grew among the fanbase towards the end of his tenure.

It was the best decision for all parties to look for a new manager.

MC: The man who replaced him is ex-Newcastle striker Jon Dahl Tomasson, how would you summarise his tenure so far?

DA: Encouraging is the word I’d use to describe the season. Rovers have looked good on a few occasions and despite the inconsistent form, there is a clear plan and ethos and we’re slowly working towards it.

He’s got the fans on his side massively with his charismatic approach and his passion for the game, so we’re all happy.

Bradford City v Blackburn Rovers - Carabao Cup Second Round
Throughout his playing career, Tomasson played for the likes of AC Milan and Feyenoord and is Denmark’s joint record goalscorer.
Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

MC: Looking at the table, Blackburn have won the most games, but also lost the joint-third most, what do you think is making your games so open?

DA: We’ve no ideas so submit your answers on a postcard!

One game we look like we could take on any side in the division, and then the next we look like relegation fodder, it has been so strange.

We’ve won every game that we’ve scored first in, and we’ve lost every one that we’ve conceded first. I wish I could answer but I have no clue!

MC: The main man everybody talks about at Blackburn is your top scorer Ben Brereton-Diaz, what makes him such a dangerous player at this level?

DA: His directness and willingness to run with the ball has been a big help. He is a big lad and it can’t be easy for defenders when they see someone like him running at them, I know I’d be scared.

The difference between his early days at the club to now is incredible. He makes the right runs, isn’t afraid to shoot and will muck in defensively, making him a real asset to the club.

Blackburn Rovers v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship - Ewood Park
Ben Brereton Diaz has scored seven goals so far this season for Blackburn.
Photo by Tim Markland/PA Images via Getty Images

MC: In terms of your summer recruitment, were you pleased with the club's incomings and outgoings?

DA: We lost three key players in Darragh Lenihan, Joe Rothwell and Ryan Nyambe, who all left on free transfers. It left a sour taste in the mouth of supporters and concerns were raised about replacements.

Given the time it then took Jon Dahl Tomasson to be appointed, and Director of football Gregg Brougbton, it left us behind in the window and therefore our business was done later than most clubs.

The loan signing of Tyler Morton (loan from Liverpool) and then permanent deals for Callum Brittain and Dominic Hyam look to be three solid signings, alongside Sammie Szmodics who is still settling in.

George Hirst hasn’t really hit the ground running since signing from Leicester on loan, whilst Clinton Mola has had a few injury issues but there is still some hope for those.

Given the circumstances, Tomasson and Broughton have done a good job in my eyes.

MC: Aside from Brereton-Diaz, which Blackburn players should Sunderland fans be wary of?

DA: Welsh wizard Ryan Hedges was signed by Mowbray in January and he was short of playing time until late in the season, meaning we didn’t see the best of him until this season, in which he has been a key player. He’s tall and direct and has an eye for a pass.

Young Adam Wharton, brother of our centre back Scott, has also been impressive in his breakthrough year and will look to dictate play in the centre of midfield.

We’ve got a lot of talent and when they come together, they’re a real threat.

Blackburn Rovers v Watford - Sky Bet Championship
Ryan Hedges has assisted three goals for Blackburn so far this season.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

MC: Blackburn skipper Lewis Travis will miss the match through suspension, how crucial will his absence be?

DA: It will be a miss, but we do have capable players. Travis is a midfielder who sits in front of the defence, and although I do think we may miss that fight and hunger he has, we’ve plenty of talented lads to fill the gap.

We may see a debut for young Jake Garrett in the midfield. He’s highly rated but hasn’t made a senior league start yet and this could be the perfect opportunity.

MC: Speaking of captains, Corry Evans is set to return to Ewood Park for the first time since leaving Blackburn, how would you summarise his tenure with the club?

DA: We saw glimpses throughout his time here that he could be a key player for the side, but a mixture of poor form and plenty of injury issues played their part.

He picked up a lot of knocks, and then had a horrific facial injury later in his time here just after a good spell of form.

I’m expecting he’ll get a warm reception.

Watford v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship
Corry Evans made 220 appearances for Blackburn, scoring five goals.
Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images

MC: What style of play can we expect from Blackburn and which eleven players do you think Tomasson will select?

DA: I’m expecting that we’ll try and play a lot with the ball, as we have done every home match and hope to cut you open with some good passing play.

It’s hard to tell though as we probably suit the counter attacking a bit more.

Predicted XI (5-3-2): Kaminski, Brittain, Hyam, Carter, S.Wharton, Pickering, Morton, A.Wharton, Garrett, Gallagher, Brereton Diaz.

MC: The two sides have not met since 2012, what is your prediction for the final score?

DA: 1-1. We’re yet to draw and we’d all be happy to end the trend of one win, one loss. I’d take that.


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