Rovers lock horns with familiar opponents tomorrow night in what could be seen as their biggest game of the season so far.
Never before has so much ridden on one ninety minute match in late September. But, given the Rovers performance last weekend at Shrewsbury, it’s vitally important that the players repay the faith shown by the supporters, so far this season.
The performance dubbed by many as unacceptable writes in to the extreme narrative that Mowbray’s men think they’re too good for this division and a turn up and win attitude is with the players.
That certainly seemed the case last weekend, as the 1600 strong Rovers support looked on in anguish and in an uncomfortable manner. The one sole positive to come out of Saturday’s instantly forgettable performance was Bradley Dack’s 85th minute equaliser to see a share of the points.
Enough said of the weekend and on to Tuesday night. Back under the lights at Ewood Park. Where wrongs need to be put right and quickly. One poor result followed by one poor performance isn’t in the Mowbray script.
The Rovers boss pulled no punches post match in Shrewsbury. Not protecting his players is one thing but to actively bring off three of his more experienced players in a triple substitution, now that took real guts.
An active signifier from the manager to say that what he’s seen hasn’t been good enough and he won’t stand for it. Refreshing? Perhaps.
Rovers must get it right in front of the home faithful this week, that much is a certainty.
Managing expectation levels is key. Mowbray’s management of certain individuals is clear to see. Unleashing them at the right time and not necessarily starting one or two just because the majority say so. That I applaud.
The supporters must take a leaf out of Mowbray’s approach. Some Rovers voices feel that the team should turn over any side at Ewood quite comfortably. When we don’t, these fans seem to turn on the players.
Thus bringing out uncharacteristic mistakes from some players, making the atmosphere in the stands somewhat nervy and ultimately turning on the team, when the wanted result doesn’t occur.
It’s easier said than done but this is only September. Rovers will be relieved that these teething problems are coming out now and not in a mid season struggle where time is running out to put the season right.
Tuesday night sees Rotherham United return to Ewood. A club who got it completely wrong last season. Going through a number of managers, the disruption became untenable and ultimately saw Rotherham sit bottom of the Championship for the majority of the season.
This time around they seem to have got their act together. Appointing Paul Warne as manager and recruiting some sound League One talent. Much alike Rovers, they have targeted players that have performed for Premier League or Championship clubs. Perhaps an eye on the future if there’s to be an immediate return.
Four wins in the last five league games for the Millers with two 5-1 drubbings in there for good measure. This isn’t the United from last season. Warne has them well disciplined, hardworking and a touch of class in front of goal.
This is Rovers’ biggest test. Not necessarily the opponents but the situation the team finds themselves in. There’s increasing pressure from the supporters to get it right, particularly at home. One home league win this season isn’t good enough.
Given the performance last weekend and the manager’s comments on his side, pressure is increasing internally too. Pressure can sometimes bring out the best in teams and this is certainly a crucial moment in Rovers season.
The manager may well look back at this week as the season defining turning point. Where the team goes from strength to strength. That’s what everyone will be hoping as we head to Ewood Park for the first time with more optimism than expectancy.
Enjoy the game.
Don’t miss all our build up to tonight’s game.
We will be discussing the Shrewsbury & Rotherham game on our 1875 Podcast. If you want to ask any questions, head over to our Twitter at @rovers_chat. Send us a tweet with #1875podcast.