Blackburn Rovers were largely unconvincing last season in the 2020/21 Sky Bet Championship. Inconsistency was their enemy as they finished in 15th place in the league table.
Blackburn Rovers head coach Tony Mowbray came in for criticism on social media from some fans as the slide in form continued.
This season wily campaigner Mowbray will be looking to address this slide and turn the Lancashire side’s fortunes around. Players have left Ewood Park but, up to press, none have been signed ahead of a season that begins a week tomorrow.
On Wednesday evening Rovers faced their stiffest test of pre-season so far – a pretty much full-strength Leeds United side. Marcelo Bielsa pulled no punches with his team selection at Ewood Park.
It was an evenly matched encounter and that was evident in more than the 1-1 scoreline that failed to separate the two sides. Blackburn gave as good as they got against their more illustrious Premier League opponents.
It was Blackburn who took the lead when Connor McBride’s deflected free-kick beat Illan Meslier in the Leeds United goal. It wasn’t long before Leeds were back level with centre-back Pascal Struijk neatly turning the ball past Thomas Kaminski in the Blackburn goal.
Rovers boss Mowbray was forced to field a side missing 10 regulars. It was a youthful side that adds a level to the display that they put up against their Premier League opponents. On the levels that Blackburn showed, Mowbray said: “I thought they applied themselves really well and I couldn’t ask any more of them.”
It’s a difficult enigma when you look at Blackburn Rovers. They have real quality players available to them such as striker Adam Armstrong (28 goals/five assists), Ben Brereton (seven goals/five assists) and Tyrhys Dolan (three goals/three assists).
However, even with this trio Mowbray’s men struggled in last season’s Championship competition. There’s even Bradley Dack to consider once the influential midfielder recovers from his latest ACL injury.
On Wednesday night against a very good Leeds United side, Blackburn more than held their own. They were unlucky not to have seen the game out as a win. Facing a near full-strength Bielsa side, they performed well and stood up to the challenge facing them.
Despite not being at full-strength, Tony Mowbray’s side showed fire and resilience to got toe-to-toe with Leeds United. The players on the pitch showed that they were up for the challenge.
Wednesday night’s game was a yardstick for Blackburn Rovers. It is one that holds a measure to their coming season which kicks off a week on Saturday when they host Swansea City. Mowbray got it right against Leeds United; he needs to do that for 46 games this coming campaign.
It is also a yardstick and measure that bodes well for Tony Mowbray and Blackburn Rovers in terms of their 2021/22 Championship campaign. Rovers weren’t overawed, and they certainly weren’t overshadowed.
On the evidence of Wednesday’s performance against Leeds United, Blackburn Rovers will be fine in their upcoming Championship campaign. They certainly don’t look like they will be pushovers.