Blackburn Rovers boss Tony Mowbray says his players have achieved nothing yet despite enjoying a bright start to their campaign, speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph ahead of this afternoon’s clash against Birmingham City at Ewood Park.
Today’s hosts have been unbeaten in their last six matches coming into this tie, winning 16 points from a possible 18 and keeping clean sheets in their last four outings, conceding just twice in total during this run.
Their defensive record has been crucial in maximising their points return, arguably securing their most impressive win of the season in their last match against automatic promotion candidates AFC Bournemouth as they claimed a 2-0 victory at the Vitality Stadium.
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This will give them a lot of confidence going into today’s meeting with Birmingham City, with the home advantage at their disposal and Ben Brereton Diaz likely to start up top for the Lancashire outfit once more.
The Chile international has scored 17 goals in 22 league matches this term, stepping in admirably to fill the void left by Adam Armstrong and Harvey Elliott and providing Rovers with a focal point up top in what is an inexperienced and youthful team.
Despite this inexperience, they currently sit in fourth place and are just four points adrift of the top two, an incredible achievement and one they will take great pride in as we reach the midpoint of the 2021/22 campaign.
Nonetheless, Blackburn manager Mowbray isn’t getting carried away, saying: “Confidence is a fine balancing act that can tip over sometimes so you have to keep your eye on where you are and reminding them how tough the next challenge is going to be.
“You have to keep re-setting your players’ focus. Are they confident? Yes. Do they believe they can work as hard as any team in this league and that opposition will feel they have been in a game? Yes.
“There are individuals within our team that can hurt the opposition at times so the balance is alright at the moment.
“It’s important to keep grounded, work hard, we’ve achieved nothing, we’re not even halfway yet.
“Let’s play the next match and see where it takes us and try to pick up points if we can.”
Mowbray has the tricky task of trying to cut out any complacency but ensuring he doesn’t lower the confidence of his players too much whilst they’re on such a good run of form – a task made harder considering the inexperience of his squad.
However, their young players have shown great maturity and this has been best showcased by their response to a heavy 7-0 defeat at home to Fulham early last month, a result that could have been detrimental to their confidence and the remainder of their campaign.
But this result has had the opposite effect – and they will want to maintain their current unbeaten run for as long as possible as they look to solidify their place in the top six.
An automatic promotion finish seems unlikely at this stage, even considering their current vein of form, but a play-off campaign isn’t out of the question considering the inconsistency of teams around them.
But the likes of Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United will all be pushing for a top-six place after their respective resurgences, with Forest looking particularly likely to force their way into contention under a man that guided Swansea City to a play-off semi-final and final during his two campaigns in South Wales.
This is why Blackburn need to continue to focus and not take anything for granted.