Behind Enemy Lines: Blackburn Rovers

MILLWALL are aiming for a fifth consecutive win when they take on Blackburn Rovers in a televised game at The Den on Saturday evening.

Rovers are 15th in the Championship table, and in Bradley Dack have a midfielder with more goal involvements than any in the top four divisions.

Lucas Ball spoke to Dan from Rovers Chat this week.

Twitter: @rovers_chat

Why do you support Blackburn?

It’s a family thing. I’ve lived just minutes away from Ewood Park all my life so there’s only one team I could’ve supported, really.

What’s been your favourite season following Rovers?

I’m too young to remember the Premier League-winning season in 1994-95 or the Worthington Cup success in 2002, so I’ll have to go for last season when we won promotion.

Seeing Ewood full again on the last day, running on the pitch at full-time when we went up at Doncaster and being in a bouncing away end every other week made it so special for me.

And the worst?

It’s got to be the season we went down in 2016-17. It was toxic when Owen Coyle was in charge and it was horrible.

I used to dread going to games and when there’s fighting between fans in the away end after games, it’s one I really don’t ever want to happen.

Is Tony Mowbray still the right man for the job?

Do I even need to answer that? He’s 100 per cent the right man for the job. Mowbray has taken us from a club that looked like it was dead to a club that’s now moving forward well and is revitalised.

Fans are reunited, the players fight for the club and 99 per cent of fans love Mowbray. It’s looking good.

What business are you hoping to see done in January?

Realistically, I think we need the competition for three or four positions improved.

We need a centre-back due to our defensive fragilities – we love conceding late.

At least one, if not two wingers need to come into the club as we are sparse in that area.

Mowbray needs to bring in another striker as well. When Danny Graham isn’t on the pitch we look lost so we need another player like him to do his job when he’s not there. Add to those positions and we’ll get top half.

Is keeping hold of Bradley Dack the most important part of that?

He is a massive part of our plans and squad so we need him to stay. I’m sure he will though given how much he loves the club and his fellow players.

It’s his partnership with Danny Graham that’s helped us so much this season. We were in a bit of a bad run coming into December and we needed a win against Sheffield Wednesday. Up stepped Dack and Graham to win us the game as Dack scored one and assisted three with Graham scoring a hat-trick and setting up the other.

It's a pleasure to watch and I hope they’re on fire together for our match at The Den.

What would constitute a successful season for you, back in the Championship?

I’d say if we were around the position we are now then it’d be a successful season. Avoid any relegation worries and I’d be happy with how it’s gone.

Do you think Millwall have enough about them to avoid relegation?

Yeah, I’d say Millwall will be fine. In all honesty, I just think there’s, at least, three sides worse than the Lions so you’ll be fine come May.

The second-season syndrome has well and truly kicked in for you.

What do you make of their chances after being drawn against Everton in the FA Cup?

It’s the FA Cup, anything can happen. Everton have some quality players but I think a few will be rested and it’ll tip the game in your favour. Millwall to win 1-0.

Who will be Mowbray’s key men on Saturday?

Other than Dack and Graham, midfielder Harrison Reed and goalkeeper David Raya come straight to mind.

Graham’s role often goes unnoticed but he’s huge to how we win games. The way he holds a ball up is special and his footballing brain is ahead of many centre-halves he comes up against.

Reed has been great since he joined, covering the entire pitch throughout a game and he’s got a goal in him when you need it. I really hope that we can make his move from Southampton permanent as there’s a special player there.

Raya is our number one and he’s come on massively since our relegation season. Some of the saves he has made this season would be talked about on Match of the Day several times if we was on it. He’s only young as well so there’s plenty of time for him to become even better.

I’d also keep an eye out for young midfielder Lewis Travis. Since making his full Championship debut against Sheffield United in December of this season, he’s started twice more including that game and he’s had three man-of-the-match performances.

Travis is a little terrier who chases after the ball and won’t give up on it. He loves a tough tackle and he can get forward well so he’ll probably start.

Likewise, which Millwall players will Rovers be wary of?

I’d definitely suggest keeping an eye on Ryan Leonard. He was excellent for Southend last season on the opening day against us and he really dominated the midfield.

I know Shane Ferguson has scored a couple recently so we need to close him down quickly to prevent any threat.

What are your thoughts on Lions boss Neil Harris?

He suits Millwall. I’m not too clued up on him but he seems to have done a good job for the Lions.

If you could sign one of his players, who would it be and why?

Leonard. Did the job against us for Southend and he looks a decent player. We could do with someone like him in our team.

What’s your expected Blackburn starting XI and formation?

It’ll be Mowbray’s tried and tested 4-2-3-1 formation. I’m quite stuck with what he’ll go for – and Charlie Mulgrew is a doubt so Derrick Williams could start for him.

Here’s my best guess:

Raya; Bennett, Lenihan, Mulgrew, Bell; Evans, Travis; Reed, Dack, Armstrong; Graham.

Will you be at the game? I assume with it being a late kick-off, Blackburn’s travelling party will be reduced heavily?

I’ll be making the trip down to Millwall. I think we’ll bring about 800 since we do have a good London-based supporter group so we always seem to have a few down there.

Finally, what’s your score prediction?

I’m going to say we’ll get our first away victory for just over three months: 2-1 to Rovers, Dack and Graham to show the partnership I’ve talked about, Ferguson for Millwall. It’ll be a good game.

Graphic: @jay_taylor18