Every word from Tony Mowbray on transfers, Bradley Johnson’s Blackburn Rovers form and Tyrhys Dolan
What were your thoughts on a very good away day?
I think we just need to keep doing what we’re doing. You can see in all the games we’ve played this year that. We should have got more from Bournemouth, how we lost to Newcastle is a mystery and then we’ve scored five last week and done pretty well today.
The players deserve huge credit as well. Their work rate, their effort, the energy they’re putting into the games. I think they’re getting the rewards for all the hard work they’ve done in the last six months when we’ve tried to change this team around from a Danny Graham and Bradley Dack situation.
I think the benefits are there for us all to see. I’m pleased for the defenders, who kept a clean sheet, pleased for the goalkeeper who made one or two saves. I’m happy enough, pleased Armstrong scored again, Brereton needs a goal and Dolan scored again. The front three are looking a threat to all teams this season.
Could you have scored more?
Press man just told me we had 23 shots. To score four, I think it’s been one of our issues, those percentages. We’ve worked a lot on finishing, the final pass into the box and picking the right pass when we get into crucial areas because it was something that was letting us down. We were able to dominate teams but not finish them off because we weren’t taking our chances.
I don’t think you cane too greedy, we did have some chances to score more today but we got four, that’s fine, the strikers scored and for Johnson, it was fantastic for him. I think he’s growing into this football club a little bit now.
He looks irreplaceable from the last four games anyway. LEt’s see if we can maintain it, if Bradley can maintain it, if young Tyrhys can maintain it, I’ve talked about that but it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down at the moment.
It’s Bradley’s second season with you now, he’s an experienced player, are we seeing the best of him now?
I think we’re seeing the lad we know he is. I talked to him when we signed him about having teams when he was at Norwich, Derby and Leeds United.
He was like a running machine, a powerful tank of a lad, getting around the pitch. That’s what he’s been working really hard on, his levels and running ability, his fitness and it’s paying dividends.
Running is not a problem for Bradley Johnson but if you stick him as a pivot and ask him not to run, he’ll do that. At the moment he’s running, closing down and winning the ball back, getting high up the pitch, not just sitting in front of the back four and I think he and the team are benefitting.
How important are those back-to-back clean sheets? Two emphatic results, 5-0 and 4-0.
We have to keep going, keep our feet on the ground. I’ve just said to the lads that aren’t getting on the pitch, they have to keep the workload up. Rankin-Costello picked up an injury today and when they come in they have to maintain the standards the team are setting.
You have to keep grafting because your time is going to come and you have to be able to maintain it. This is the level now and it has to be for the next 43 games. If teams can beat us, that’s fine. We came here today knowing Derby are a very well-coached, good footballing team with talented players.
The test for the team is to see if we could stop them playing around, through and over and in the first couple of minutes it looked like they could but then we got a grip and the momentum of the game changed a bit, we got on top and scored some quick-fire goals, mainly from transitions. That’s the main way teams score goals in modern-day football. It’s probably quite rare to have a 25-pass move and score a goal from it. If you can win the ball high up, one or two passes and it’s in the back of the net and we’re proving pretty good at that, at the moment.
A standard question before the 16th of October, any transfer news for us?
We’re trying really, really hard, we haven’t got millions of pounds to spend. We’ve got a little bit of money for the right player, probably loans now I would suggest. We don’t have enough for a transfer fee and a salary.
It’s important we deepen the squad out, that’s the main thing because there’s our right-back potentially out for weeks with a hamstring injury. We’ve already got Dack out on his ACL, we’ve got Corry Evans out who is an international footballer. Lewis Travis, who has probably been our best player in the last year, is out, pretty long-term so all of a sudden the intensity we play at brings injuries and everyone needs to be at it really. The lads behind, the Buckleys and the Davenports and hopefully one or two more before the window shuts.
You’ve had a free week, is the challenge when the three-game weeks come to try and press teams and play on the front foot?
I think the issue comes around the back-to-back three-game weeks. Our data tells us that the third game in a week is the highest of any games so our data says they can maintain it.
Whether they can maintain it for six games over a two-week period if another question for us. That’s why, ultimately, you’d prefer to have a squad and more players with depth so they understand when they’re asked to play that the standard is where it is and if they don’t reach it, they won’t play. At this moment, I think they’re enjoying what we’re asking them to do, they’ve bought into it and we’ll see how far it takes us.
As I’ve said to the team, we don’t have to play on the front foot in every game. If you suck teams on to you, defend your box and you have Armstrong, Dolan and Brereton ready to run away into all that space, it’s not a bad way to score and win football matches as well.
As we did last week, when teams go behind and push onto you, as long as you’ve got your strikers in the right positions and there’s space for them to run into, you have a chance as well.
How excited are you by your talented, exciting young players?
Dolan has come to our club and he’s brought enthusiasm, honesty, integrity, hard work and talent. I said to the lads in the dressing room, I only saw Dolan play once in a youth cup game against our Under-18s at Ewood Park and he would normally be stuck with our 23s seeing if he could break in but what he brought to the training ground on the first few days through pre-season was amazing really, that’s why he’s found himself with our first-team group. That’s why he’s forced his way into our team and scored goals in back-to-back games. He loves playing, running, chasing and the hard work isn’t an issue for him and long may it continue.
Other players for us like Chapman, Buckley, Gallagher, whose training this week so we’ve got a £6million centre-forward waiting to take his place and yet at this moment he will find that difficult to do.
Extra edge for Johnson coming back to his former club?
Maybe, I don’t know what goes on in his head. I think his standard has been that high. Bournemouth opening day I thought he was fantastic, he scored a long-range goal for us that day as well. I just think he’s bought into how we want to play.
I think Johnson is an athletic footballer, he’s powerful he’s strong, he’s big and he can run. If you look at our numbers he is right at the front end of the training athletically so Johnson is being asked to play in a way that suits his attributes and that’s why he’s shining at the moment.