Today marks the anniversary of Tony Mowbray's appointment as Rovers manager and, 12 months after taking the reins, the boss has been reflecting on his time at Ewood Park.
Scroll down to read a Q&A with Tony, as the manager discusses life at Rovers, connecting with the fans and goals for the future...
Firstly, Tony, how do you look back on your first year at the club?
“I haven’t given it much thought to be honest. The work is enjoyable and we have a really good group of footballers here. Managing in League One is a difficult job to keep everyone on board, to keep sprits high. We have a group that works hard for you and buys into your way of working."
Tell us about how you came to be manager last February...
"Everyone wants to manage at the highest level. The opportunity to manage Blackburn Rovers in the Championship was a fantastic opportunity and that’s why I was interested, why I put my name forward. When I put my name forward for this job, I had no real anticipation of getting it, but I had the chance to sit in front of the people, talk about my experiences and my philosophies. Thankfully for me, they saw a fit that they felt was right. For someone like me, being a football guy, the opportunity to manage Blackburn Rovers, who’d had (Alan) Shearer, (Chris) Sutton, (Stuart) Ripley, (Jason) Wilcox, (Tim) Sherwood, still very much in my mind, it was amazing opportunity. I’d been to the training ground once or twice - I couldn’t believe how hard it was to find! In the countryside somewhere, in the middle of nowhere."
What's it like, coming in every day to manage this club?
“I really enjoy coming in every day, to manage a fantastic club with a fantastic history. Ideally we should be in the Premier League, but the job - after the frustration of last season - is to take us back. Lots talk about last season; everyone at the bottom found a way to win matches at a crucial time and we dropped down a league. The ambition now is to bounce back at the first time of asking."
And how about your relationship with the fans, who have taken to you so well...
“I started the Celtic huddle in 1994. I think there needs to be a connection with the supporters. I am working class man and was the same when I went to games with my dad, smelling the Bovril 100 yards from the stadium, walking up the steps and in. You should play for the people, create a connection. You are carrying the flag for the people of the town. The supporters will remain constant. We need to show that we care. The fans are entitled to show their frustrations. They are desperate for things to go well. At the end of 90 minutes, we need to be in a position to take the points."
Today, the club is top of the table and pushing for promotion. How do you assess the current situation?
“We’re all pulling in the right direction. There are nervous tensions from the fans because promotion isn’t a foregone conclusion. We want to get in the top two spots. On the back of a relegation, there was the potential for the club to shrink. As a manager you have to be the face and voice of the club. Your quality of life is important and if I didn’t think the support was there then I’d have gone home, had a kick-about with my kids in the garden, gone for coffees with my mates, watched the football results on the television. I didn’t want a situation to come to work and getting battered. I felt the support and it was a question about whether I had a plan to get us back up. I came out of the meetings in India feeling as if the Owners understood what I was trying to do."
Just how difficult is it to get out of this division?
"Clubs like Sheffield United spent seven years to get out of League One, Leeds United took something like three years to do it. The level of investment was going to be enough to attract players from around us. We’ve tried to build the team with free transfers, players we’ve bought and it’s given me inspiration to get my teeth into the job and get a team together to play the way we want to play. I've had some pretty tough decisions with players in the summer who didn’t see themselves as League One players. I demanded certain players would stay and I have been backed brilliantly by the Owners. The salary level doesn’t make a quality footballer. I looked at the players we liked and we needed certain players to help dig us out of the league. We put the boots on and got to work."