‘I don’t think we should fear anyone’ – Tony Mowbray

Tony Mowbray believes Rovers have plenty of reasons for optimism ahead of their return to the Championship.

Mowbray led the club to an immediate promotion back to the second tier in his first full season in charge.

The boss took charge of the final 15 games of the 2016/17 season, but despite an impressive 22-point haul, Rovers were relegated on the final day at Brentford.

A feel-good factor remains at Ewood Park following an impressive promotion campaign, and Mowbray hopes that momentum, as well as the tight bond within his squad, can carry them a long way.

And while the boss is not setting any specific targets for his squad, he wants them to be competitive in each of their 46 league matches.

He said: “I think it’s a really interesting league.

“I feel the league this year is a bit more open than some of the juggernauts of last year with the money they were spending.

“We’ve got a real opportunity to be really competitive and the spirit within our team, and hopefully the bits of quality we can show on the day, that will be enough to make it tough for every team.

“There are tough and competitive fixtures but I don’t think we should fear anyone.

“It will make for a really interesting league and if we can draw on the spirit of our team then I can’t see why we couldn’t have a really positive season, attack the league, be on the front foot and aggressive, believe we can win games.

“Sheffield United were in the top six for most of the season before drifting off.

“Millwall had one of the lower budgets last season but showed that if you have that togetherness and understanding then you can have a really good season.

“I hope the fans expect us to win games, be competitive, but have a realisation that we’re trying to grow the team.”

Rovers begin their Championship campaign with a trip to Ipswich Town on Saturday before second tier football returns to Ewood Park on August 11 with the visit of Millwall.

They will be eyeing a better start to last season, where they lost their opening two games and four of their first 11, while it took them until matchday eight in 2016/17 to record a first three points.

Mowbray admits his side may have to adapt their style for the new league, given the extra quality they will face week in, week out.

But he believes they can find a winning formula as they did last term in a bid to flourish in the Championship.

All but five of the 24 teams they will come up against are former Premier League teams, showing the level of challenge they face.

“I think the starting point is to be competitive in every game from day one at Ipswich,” Mowbray added.

“The group has to feel the quality of the league.

“Once we got a foothold in the league and the new players bedded in I felt the quality of our team was too good for League One and most other teams felt that as well.

“After that initial period we at times did play man for man, pressed them all over the pitch, we had goalscorers in the team and we took our own style on to the pitch last year.

“This year we have to be a bit more respectful of the other teams but still create an identity of how we’re going to play, what we’re going to do.

“The Championship is full of players who have dropped down from the Premier League and a lot of clubs who in recent history have been in the Premier League so we’ll be taking each games as it comes, the old cliché, but I’m confident this group will make every match competitive.”

Source : LancashireTelegraph

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