League leaders: Blackburn Rovers on the way back

Tony Mowbray had a dream to build a football team
We had no money so we got some players on loan
Mulgrew at the back, and Dack in attack
We’re Blackburn Rovers, we’re on our way back

As the final whistle blew steam into the freezing London air on Tuesday night, Blackburn Rovers fans proclaimed their club was back on track.

A routine 3-0 victory over struggling AFC Wimbledon confirmed Rovers’ four point lead at the top of the League One table after Wigan’s match against Bristol Rovers was postponed.

Rovers never really left second gear all evening. Bradley Dack toyed with Wimbledon’s backline throughout, nutmegging and jinking at will, as Richie Smallwood and Elliott Bennett also combined comfortably in midfield to ease Rovers to victory.

Charlie Mulgrew dealt with lone striker Lyle Taylor with such consummate ease that he could play again this evening. It never looked like anything other than an easy away victory for in-form Blackburn.

It was summer signing Dack who shone the brightest as he punished the hosts with a looping header in the first half, followed by a sumptuous chip in the second half. He continues to make a mockery of the £750k used to buy him last summer.

778 away fans made the trip to South London to see their side secure their fourth league win in a row. A sell-out away stand meant that some fans were even forced to sit on fences and huts to watch the match unfold.

The enthusiasm with which Bennett celebrated his second half screamer encapsulates the heartiness and togetherness of the league leaders.

There is an evident buoyancy surrounding the club at present, and the bond between a tight-knit squad and the fans only appears to get stronger each week. Against all the odds, the tide is finally turning in East Lancashire.

The Riao family have been noticeably quiet since relegation from the Championship less than a year ago. After almost ten years of disenfranchisement and hopelessness caused by the revolving door of managers at Ewood Park, at the moment at least, no news is good news.

Tony Mowbray’s communications with his superiors has been minimal since last summer when the board guaranteed four key players would not be sold. Last night, Charlie Mulgrew, Elliott Bennett and Danny Graham all starred in the comfortable dismantling of Wimbledon. Craig Conway makes up the most-wanted quartet, who missed out through injury.

Wigan’s postponement last night coupled with their continued FA Cup run now means they will play a match on average every four days until the season finale.

The fixture pile-up for Wigan, including fluctuating prioritisation of league and cup, is no doubt music to the ears of their rivals across Lancashire.

Several members of Rovers’ squad, particularly Mulgrew and Dack, will no doubt be playing in a higher league next season, with or without Blackburn. Whisper it quietly, but it would be a huge shock if they were not in the Championship at the start of next season wearing shirts with blue and white halves.

Chris Henderson

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Unfit and Improper: How the Venky’s continue to destroy Blackburn Rovers

 

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