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Tony Mowbray’s post-January slumps... separating the facts from the fiction

When Mowbray was appointed, we were told his teams tended to switch off after January. But just how true is that? We delved into the record books to find out. If you’re of a nervous disposition, please look away now...

Photo by Richard Sellers/Getty Images

The last couple of weeks have made me think back to when we appointed Tony Mowbray, and the reports we got from fans of the clubs he managed previously. There were a lot of positives – his style of play and his development of young players for two.

But one thing kept nagging at the back of my mind after the Rotherham, Coventry and Stoke games.

“His teams tend to switch off after January.”

Yep, that was the negative. Every season, he’ll oversee a post-January slump that will render any aspiration for the season null and void.

And, after Saturday’s game, social media was awash with Blackburn fans telling us ‘told you so’.

But, what is Mowbray’s record actually like after January? Were his Blackburn dips something that we should now be concerned about, or a mere anomaly?

Let’s find out.

Hibernian 2004-2006

Mogga’s first managerial gig was almost 20 years ago, when the fresh-faced (well, it’s all relative) 41-year-old took his first permanent foray into the management after a brief spell as caretaker of Ipswich a couple of years earlier.

2004-2005 to end of January
P23 W13 D4 L6 PPG: 1.86

2004-2005 from 1 February
P15 W5 D3 L7 PPG 1.2

2005-2006 to end of January
P24 W13 D2 L9 PPG: 1.7

2005-2006 from 1 February
P14 W4 D3 L7 PPG: 1.07

Mowbray was wanted by Ipswich towards the end of the 05/06 season, but turned down a return to Portman Road. He started the next season at Easter Road, and signed a new, one-year rolling contract (he must have given that idea to Kristjaan Speakman) but departed in October for West Brom.

28/08/04 Spl.Hibs V Dundee (4-4).Easter Road - Edinburgh.Hibs Assistant Manager Mark Venus (Left) And Tony Mowbray.
Mowbray and Mark Venus at Hibs
Photo by Bill Murray/SNS Group via Getty Images

West Brom 2006-2009

West Brom had just been relegated from the Premier League, and were expecting an immediate return. They’d reckoned, of course, without Keano’s Sunderland – but Mowbray won plenty of plaudits for the way his West Brom team played. He won promotion in the 2007-08 season, guiding the Baggies back to the Premier League on the back of a fantastic run at the end of the season. The Premier League season was a tough one, and West Brom finished bottom of the table – but the crowd was very much behind Mowbray – with Mogga masks being worn in the stands on the season’s final home game.

2006-2007 to end of January
P21 W11 D5 L5 PPG 1.8

2006-2007 from 1 February
P15 W7 D1 L7 PPG 1.46

2007-2008 to end of January
P30 W15 D6 L8 PPG 1.7

2007-2008 from 1 February
P16 W8 D6 L3 PPG 1.88

2008-2009 to end of January
P24 W6 D4 L14 PPG 0.91

2008-2009 from 1 February
P14 W2 D4 L8 PPG 0.71

It’s interesting to note a small decline towards the end of Mowbray’s first season, which ended up costing West Brom promotion (that was the season he famously declared WBA would get more points than Keano’s Sunderland). In his second season, however, the team got stronger as they went on, finishing the season with a good run to secure promotion.

Soccer - Premier League - West Bromwich Albion vs. Stoke City Photo by AMA/Corbis via Getty Images

Celtic 2009-2010

Upon relegation, Mowbray accepted an offer from Celtic to take over from Gordon Strachan, with £2m compensation heading to the Hawthorns.

Mowbray lasted only to March, however, with his assistant Neil Lennon taking over.

P30 W17 D6 L7 PPG: 1.9

Soccer - Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League - St Mirren v Celtic - St Mirren Park Photo by Lynne Cameron/PA Images via Getty Images

Middlesbrough 2010-2013

After leaving Celtic, Mowbray was out of work for around six months before his former club appointed him in October 2010 to – once again – replace Gordon Strachan. During his first season, he slowly changed the fortunes of the club, with Boro enjoying a strong second half to the campaign. After that, however...

2010-11 to end of January
P14 W5 D4 L5 PPG: 1.35

2010-11 from 1 February
P19 W9 D5 L5 PPG: 1.68

2011-12 to end of January
P28 W12 D9 L7 PPG: 1.6

2011-12 from 1 February
P18 W6 D7 L5 PPG 1.05

2012-13 to end of January
P28 W14 D3 L11 PPG 1.6

2012-13 from 1 February
P16 W3 D3 L12 PPG 0.75

Mowbray was sacked by Boro in the October of 2013, after a run of 2 wins in 12. That made a record of 5 wins in 33 games in 2013 for Middlesbrough.

Middlesbrough’s manager Tony Mowbray arr Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Coventry City 2015-2016

Mowbray spend 18 months out of the game, before accepting the challenge of keeping Coventry in League One with a couple of months of the season left. He did so, thanks to a final day win at Crawley.

2015-16 to end of January
P27 W13 D9 L5 PPG 1.77

2015-16 from 1 February
P19 W6 D3 L10 PPG 1.1

Coventry finished 8th in Mowbray’s only full season there, and he left the club after failing to get a win in the opening 10 games of the 2016-17 season.

Coventry City v Northampton Town - The Emirates FA Cup First Round Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Blackburn Rovers 2017-2022

Mowbray was given the task of saving Blackburn from relegation from the Championship during the 2016-17 season, taking over the club in February and overseeing an upturn in results – but was unable to prevent them from dropping into League One. He won the League One title the following season, and stabilised the club in the Championship until his departure last summer.

2017-18 to end of January
P29 W17 D8 L4 PPG 2.03

2017-18 from 1 February
P17 W11 D4 L2 PPG: 2.17

2018-19 to end of January
P29 W11 D10 L8 PPG 1.48

2018-19 from 1 February
P17 W5 D2 L10 PPG 1.0

2019-20 to end of January
P29 W12 D7 L10 PPG 1.48

2019-20 from 1 February
P17 W5 D5 L7 PPG 1.17

2020-21 to end of January
P26 W11 D6 L9 PPG 1.42

2020-21 from 1 February
P20 W4 D6 L10 PPG 0.9

2021-22 to end of January
P29 W15 D8 L6 PPG 1.83

2021-22 from 1 February
P17 W4 D4 L9 PPG 0.94

Birmingham City v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

Sunderland 2022-

2022-23 to end of January
P22 W9 D6 L7 PPG: 1.5

2022-23 from 1 February
P7 W2 D2 L3 PPG 1.14

Yes, there’s a long way to go for us this season, but looking at our run of fixtures – off the back of one point from 12 – it’s difficult to see our PPG improving massively over the coming couple of months. There are a load of mitigating factors, however – and it’s unfair to judge Mowbray too much post-January this season as it did, of course, coincide with Ross Stewart’s injury, and the club’s failure to get in another striker. But it’s certainly a trend, and one which – if we have aspirations of going up under Mowbray next season – he’ll need to address.

Sunderland v Fulham: Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay Photo by Richard Sellers/Getty Images

It’s interesting to look at this as, bar a couple of notable exceptions, when his team’s gained promotion, there’s a significant drop off in the final third of the season. Of course, it doesn’t mean that we’re destined to stagger through the remaining games of this campaign, but the reality is that in 14 full(ish) seasons, Tony Mowbray’s teams have dropped off significantly in nine of them – including seven of the previous eight, before this season. The only season since 2012 that this hasn’t happened is during his League One championship-winning campaign with Blackburn.

But why?

When we spoke to Blackburn fans when Mowbray was appointed, they referenced his loyalty to players, sticking with them when they needed a rest, even playing them out of position to keep them in the team, and some tactically strange decisions.

Unfortunately, we’ve already seen this to some extent at Sunderland, and while he’s obviously without a striker – the impact of which cannot be underestimated – some of his team selections are curious to say the least.

It will be interesting to watch how the rest of this season goes, because there’s certainly a worrying pattern – and I’m sure KLD and Speakman will be keeping a close eye on how things go from here.


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