Dear Roker Report,
I was one of many who had misgivings when we hired Tony Mowbray as head coach. In fact, I was vociferous in my reasoning as to why we should’ve left well alone.
I believed that he lacked passion, motivation and I also thought of him as just being utterly bland and uninspiring.
However, I’m now tucking into my daily helping of humble pie as we sit proudly in fifth position under his tutelage. Not only has he kept the progress moving that was initiated under his predecessor, he’s also taken it one notch further.
I’ve listened to his interviews and rather than finding him dour and robotic, I say freely that he has a vast football brain. In fact, I’ve gone full circle in my opinion of Mowbray. He’s a brilliant tactician and he has the uncanny knack of making all his players believe they are part of the same core.
This is something extremely rare in a manager and I can honestly only think of the legendary Fergie and Arsene Wenger as others who also possessed this gift.
Take Patrick Roberts, for example.
Here was a maverick footballer who’d wandered the football world in search of a new home. His talent is undeniable, but he just couldn’t find somewhere he could actually relate to. I do believe that if he’d gone anywhere else and been left out of the team, he would’ve been looking to move on yet again.
However, Mowbray continually waxed lyrical about him and Roberts is now rewarding us with some amazing performances. This is purely down to brilliant man management from Mogga.
I’m delighted to stuff myself full of humble pie and take it as I deserve.
Let’s just buckle up, settle back and see where the next few months takes us. One thing we can be absolutely certain about is that it won’t be boring!
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Peter! Thanks for getting in touch.
I have a feeling that you’re not the only supporter whose opinion of Mogga has changed.
When he got the job, he wasn’t a universally popular choice and he’s certainly had to win over sections of the fan base who were shocked by Alex Neil’s sudden departure.
As you rightly say, he’s done just that. His motivational skills are superb, it’s clear that the players believe in him, and he’s giving them the confidence to play to their potential.
It’s a very exciting time for everyone, and I think he deserve immense credit for what he’s doing.
Dear Roker Report,
I’m back for episode three of my new player songs!
I was surprised that episode one, of Danny Batth to the tune of ‘Tubthumping’ and episode two of ‘Stuck In The Middle Michut’ haven’t taken off yet, but here we are with Jack Clarke’s song, to the tune of ‘Smack That’ by Akon.
“Jack Clarke, he’s on the ball,
Jack Clarke, give me some more,
Jack Clarke, he’s gonna score,
Jack Clarke, uh oh uh oh.”
One of these has to take off soon, surely?
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older and more out of touch, but I’ll leave it to our younger and trendier readers to decide whether the Jack Clarke song is a winner.
Dear Roker Report,
This season, our team has unlocked the trick to dig deep and get points, and the positive results against Millwall and Reading have certainly kept us in the mix for promotion.
One thing I noticed in the previous match was Aji Alese playing further up the pitch and taking the position of a striker.
Alese is an athletic player with good legs who can get up and down the pitch, and when we can utilise this, he can be a real presence in the opposition box.
It reminded me of the Dutch team of the previous Euros where Denzel Dumfries, who played as a RWB, was sometimes used as a striker, nicking in with goals and assists.
This system might put pressure on the likes of Danny Batth and Edouard Michut down the left, but it can be utilised against smaller teams who put people behind the ball and defend.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Adarsh. Thanks for your letter.
I think Alese is a player who can offer us a real attacking threat and as you rightly say, his stamina and athleticism could be a huge asset to us in certain situations.
He has the confidence to get on the ball and make surging runs forward, as well as being very strong in defence, and it’s something that can be very difficult to defend against.
I think he fits our system perfectly, and it’ll be interesting to see how Tony Mowbray utilises him for the remainder of the season.