Opposition view: Rovers settling in as Mowbray sticks to tried and trusted
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Daniel Ainsworth, from the Rovers Chat website and podcast, is in the opposition view hot-seat ahead of Norwich City’s arrival at Ewood Park this afternoon.
Have you been pleased with Rovers’ season so far?
I’ve been very pleased with our season so far. We’ve started well for a side who have been promoted and if it wasn’t for a lack of concentration or an inability to see games out, we’d be comfortable in the play-off spots. The players have taken to the division well and we look like we can match any side on their day. We should be on for a mid-table finish at least if we make a few additions in January.
Has Tony Mowbray continued playing the same style as your League One promotion season?
Yes, we’ve kept with what got us into this division. The same formation every week (4-2-3-1) and like last season, we use Danny Graham as a target man to win the ball and hold it up to bring the other three attacking players into the attack and that’s what works. The only problem is that when Graham leaves the pitch, our plan doesn’t really change and then we struggle.
How has Harrison Reed been getting on?
He’s been one of our best players! I think a lot of our fans were sceptical when he came into the club due to the sheer amount of central midfielders we had in the club. However, we have all grown to love him; he’s picked up the nickname of the Ginger Ninja and he’s put in some excellent performances. Reed has contributed with goals, been a tough tackling warrior when we need him and always works hard. If you do those three, you can’t go wrong!
It looks like Elliott Bennett may miss the game through injury, but is he a popular player?
Benno is definitely a fans’ favourite. Like most of our squad, he’s not the best of players in terms of technical ability, but his passion and workrate has made him a firm favourite. Tony Mowbray has really instilled this in Benno and it’s worked wonders. He’s become famous for a fist pump after every victory as well.
Is it safe to assume that Bradley Dack is your star man?
Yes, it certainly is. Dack has been great for us this season with nine goals and four assists, and he’s proven to everyone that he can make the step up. He has had times where he has struggled and looked lost, but he seems to be getting back to his best and that’s what we love to see. Dack’s relationship with Danny Graham on and off the pitch is key to his game and that could be shown again on Saturday.
Are there areas which need strengthening in January?
There’s three areas I’d say Rovers need to strengthen. First would probably be to bring another centre-back into the club. Charlie Mulgrew and Darragh Lenihan, our two main centre-backs, are prone to injury and we do need that extra cover. We also need another striker, one who fits the stature and playing style of Danny Graham so when he’s inevitably subbed off around the 65th minute, we can keep our playing style going. Rovers would also benefit from bringing an out-and-out winger into the club. Bennett and Craig Conway are our only wingers and they are both currently injured. If we could bring those three positions in, I think we could finish in the top half come May.
Have you been surprised to see Norwich in the top two recently?
100%. I saw that some Norwich fans thought it may be the end of Daniel Farke after a poor start and I never would’ve expected the Canaries to be flying high. The signing of Pukki shocked me and I wouldn’t have been happy at the time if Rovers signed him, so that’s proved me wrong!
After one win in the last six, do you think this is a game Rovers can win?
Yeah, we’ve lost one at home since the end of October 2017. It’ll be a tough game and it wouldn’t shock me if we lose because of how good Norwich are, but we can beat anyone in this league on our day. I’d be happy just not losing if I’m honest!
And lastly, what’s your score prediction?
Let’s be optimistic and go for a 1-0 win for Rovers, with Danny Graham grabbing the winner.