Rovers will be looking to build on a clinical win from the weekend as Mowbray’s men travel to the Kassam Stadium to face Oxford United on Tuesday night.
As Neil Diamond’s cult classic Sweet Caroline blasted from Gigg Lane’s ageing PA system, there was an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia. Not just with the music, but with the sheer size of the away following.
Admittedly, seeing two thousand or so Rovers fans opposite whichever stand one was in last Saturday was bizarre. Many weren’t fans of it. Some did enjoy it.
What has to be said is that it must have given the players a huge sense of belonging and an added advantage. “Tony Mowbray’s Blue & White army” shook the very foundations of Gigg Lane. It’s no wonder the visitors ran out winners so emphatically.
How Saturday went really does depend on who you speak to. Some will have you believe Rovers were actually quite poor and didn’t perform well. The win coming from how poor Bury played. Others will have championed the display and the result.
It’s a fascinating divide amongst the travelling support. One thing they’ll have in common is what a great result Saturday was. And how everyone represented the football club with immense pride. From player to supporter – a superb effort.
To Tuesday night then, and what has become a vital game all of a sudden. Oxford’s upturn in form has seen them climb to seventh and a win would put them above Rovers and into the top six. A motivation to win in itself.
Oxford’s aspirations must be to finish in the top six. They came so very close last season, missing out on a place in the play-offs in the final days of the season. It was suggested Oxford’s efforts in cup competitions last season were, in the end, their downfall.
A huge spanner in the works in the summer just gone was the departure of Michael Appleton.
Former Rovers boss Appleton worked tirelessly to recruit a competitive squad who had ambitions of earning promotion to English football’s second tier.
It was a long and tough process for the now ex-Oxford manager but things were starting to come off. It was a tough decision for him whether he was to leave or not. Especially having built up something very strong to run with for the coming season.
Appleton left and therefore a summer transition had to happen for the Kassam Stadium outfit. They have gone slightly different with the appointment of Josep Clotet Ruiz [known as Pep Clotet] – following on from the successful models of Huddersfield Town, Norwich City and Leeds United.
Oxford are no mugs and are in great form, coming off the back of a 0-4 away win at Plymouth. They’ll be in the same kind of mood as Rovers and will want to jump at the chance of beating a play-off rival.
Tony Mowbray has got it right this week. There isn’t a lot he can do with the players in terms of preparation – having played last Saturday and with them playing on Tuesday. It’s more about studying the opposition and analysing what the team will set out to do.
That’s what the manager will be putting in to practice over the next few hours. Making sure he’s reiterating how important it is to continue to perform to the best of our ability and how crucial it is to represent the blue and white of Blackburn.
Rovers on paper have enough, but a win on Tuesday night would be a real statement of intent. Back-to-back wins going in a home game at the weekend will be the order of the day. Hopefully, it’ll be one we’ll all see.
A final mention to the supporters. An unbelievable following last Saturday was rewarded with the victory. The backing the players received was monumental in what was a bitterly cold afternoon. Let us hope for more results like that, to match with that tremendous support.
Tuesday night at Oxford will be extremely difficult for the majority to get to. To the 500+ that will travel to the Kassam Stadium, everyone salutes you. That is some dedication and goes to show how much this football club means to you.
Let us hope for an entertaining game and an away atmosphere to match the very best. More importantly, let us hope that everyone is arriving back to East Lancashire in the early hours of Wednesday morning with three more points and more of that winning feeling.
Enjoy the game.
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