How would you sum up Bradley Dack’s Blackburn career?
EJ: Dack had a fantastic career at Ewood Park but it was sadly curtailed in the final years by back-to-back knee injuries. He was a huge fans’ favourite and, at his best, an elite Championship talent. Unfortunately, he struggled to recreate that form after coming back, which is understandable after such a long period out of the game. He will always be remembered fondly at Ewood and will get a fantastic reception when he returns this year.
Let’s go all the way back to the start - how were things at the beginning for him?
EJ: Dack came into Rovers with the club in freefall. They had just been relegated to League One and the club was a mess off the field. He was a bargain buy from Gillingham that turned in to being arguably Mowbray’s best Rovers signing. He was fantastic in that promotion-winning season and adapted easily to life a tier up. His relationship with Danny Graham was fantastic and that was Dack at his best. If he can feed off someone like Ross Stewart, he is brilliant at finding space in the box and scoring goals.
Do you think he’s still a quality Championship player? He’s only 29 so not completely over the hill yet...
EJ: Definitely. Is he someone to rely on for 46 games? Probably not given his injury record. He is definitely someone who can play 20-25 games and also impact the game off the bench, though. He’s a goal-scorer and hasn’t lost that nack, even if he isn’t quite as dynamic as he once was.
Sunderland play a free-flowing style of football, where our attackers are mainly asked to break forward at pace, score goals and work hard when we don’t have the ball. Do you think he’ll fit in?
EJ: He’s definitely not work-shy, he will do his bit for the team. He is not blessed with great pace, so he won’t be someone to break away on the counter-attack. What he can do is arrive into the box late and score goals, after the likes of Roberts/Clarke have drove up the pitch.
What’s his past relationship with Tony Mowbray like? Can you see why he’s opted to sign him up again?
EJ: That is undoubtedly the main factor behind this move. I am not sure it would be happening otherwise. Mowbray is a huge fan of Dack and he knows how to manage him and get the best from him. I think it’s a smart signing, for free, if the financials aren’t huge.
What sort of player is he?
EJ: He is a goal-scorer, plain and simple. I can definitely see him working well with Stewart, with pace and trickery on either flank at the side of him. He is very intelligent at finding space in the box and his finishing is classy. Weakness wise, his injury record plays against him and he isn’t the most dynamic runner, which is why he wasn’t a fantastic fit under Jon Dahl Tomasson. I think in a squad of young players, he can definitely be a good addition.
Were Blackburn fans disappointed to see him leave?
EJ: Yes because he’s a club legend but I think it’s widely accepted it was the right time to shake hands. He was one of the club’s highest earners and Rovers needed the money elsewhere in the squad. Tomasson clearly didn’t see him as a perfect fit for his system either. He will always be remembered fondly though and no doubt if he starts banging in a few goals, fans will change their minds and wish he never left!
There’s not a huge amount of pressure on Dack to succeed at Sunderland given our attacking midfield options are already strong... do you think he’ll be a good signing for us?
EJ: I do. I don’t think you can underestimate the Mowbray factor. He is the ideal man-manager for Dack. As I said earlier, he is a 20-25 game player now in terms of starts and can also impact from the bench. If the money adds up, there isn’t much not to like.
What would you say to anyone who isn’t sure about this transfer?
EJ: I would say trust Mowbray. He knows how to get a tune from Dack and I’m sure he can make him a useful addition. Sunderland lacked options at the top end of the pitch last year after their injuries and he is definitely a goal-scorer, albeit not a nine.