Blackburn Rovers boss Tony Mowbray was clear in his mind that he was leaving Ewood Park “quite a while ago” ahead of the expiration of his contract this summer, speaking to Lancs Live.
The 58-year-old previously looked set to guide the Lancashire outfit to a top-six finish – but their poor form in recent months has meant they have slipped out of the play-offs and are now guaranteed to be playing Championship football next season following their loss to AFC Bournemouth yesterday afternoon.
Their form has only gone on to increase uncertainty surrounding Mowbray’s future – and in his pre-match press conference earlier this week ahead of their tie with the Cherries – he hinted that he was set to depart the Lancashire club.
Quiz: Which club did Blackburn Rovers sign these 24 players from in the 1990s?
However, the lack of official confirmation has made the state of play regarding this situation unclear with many key first-teamers including Joe Rothwell and Darragh Lenihan also out of contract in Lancashire in just a couple of months.
Although the duo have been linked with moves away from the club as late as this morning with West Bromwich Albion thought to be in the race, there have been no reports linking their manager to another job.
Despite this, Mowbray knew he was set to leave a considerable amount of time ago as he made this revelation to Lancs Live.
Asked when he knew he was departing, he said: “Quite a while ago. I said before, I live by a set of values and I would never…I’ve had half an hour with the players in the dressing room in total silence listening to my thoughts and advice.
“As I keep saying, they are young men and they need some thoughts, guidance and someone who has been there and done it.
“Love is not too strong a word, I love those lads down there.”
Mowbray deserves to be treated a lot better than he has been after becoming a fine servant at Ewood Park – and arguably deserved another season to try and get his troops into the top six after doing much better than expected this season.
After losing Adam Armstrong and Harvey Elliott, many people feared what the future would hold for the Lancashire side but they have recruited well within a limited budget and have set themselves up for a bright future.
The 58-year-old would have been a calming influence during what could be quite a radical period of change for the second-tier side with quite a few of their first-teamers out of contract – and has shown he can work well with a young squad.
With a full season of experience under their belts, Blackburn will only be stronger next season if they have the right manager in charge and adequately replace those who leave.
It remains to be seen if this happens though because it may take quite a bit of investment to bring in players who can match the quality of Lenihan, Rothwell and Ryan Nyambe – and they may need to cash in on Ben Brereton Diaz to provide those funds to Mowbray’s successor.