Blackburn Rovers boss Tony Mowbray is bracing himself for a ‘tough night and tough examination’ against Sheffield United at Ewood Park tomorrow evening.
The newly-promoted Rovers put their long unbeaten home record at Ewood Park on the line when Chris Wilder’s Blades travel to Lancashire, hoping to remain within touching distance of league leaders West Brom.
And Mowbray, speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of the game, said: “Sheffield United are one of the stronger teams in the league. I think we find ourselves a year behind them in spending some money and building an impressive group of players.
“They have their own style, three at the back, they have their centre halves overlapping their wing-backs, they push right on.
“It will be a big test for us, a difficult game. There is a different tactical aspect to this game than most weeks but we’re looking forward to it and I’m sure they will give us a tough game.
“But they will know, coming to Ewood Park, that they will be expecting a tough game themselves.”
“I’ll expect really technical players like Oli Norwood, John Fleck and Mark Duffy to be picking passes and asking questions of us,” the Rovers boss added.
“David McGoldrick dropping off the front, he’s talented and has scored a lot of goals since he’s joined from Ipswich. Billy Sharp, you know what he does... he scores goals.
“So I’m expecting a tough night and a tough examination off them but we take confidence and positives in to the game.
“Somebody said at the weekend it was 25 games since we’ve last had a home defeat in the league. We should take that confidence and belief in to this fixture believing that they’re going to have to play well to beat us. We’ll ask questions of them and hopefully take advantage of that.”
Barring an unprecedented tactical switch, United will line up with Chris Basham and Jack O’Connell as the wide centre-halves, given licence to get forward and join in attacks.
“I expect their centre-halves to be over lapping their wing backs,” Mowbray said, “and you must prepare for it. But sometimes a team’s biggest strengths can be their biggest weaknesses.
“If you’ve got a centre half who’s overlapping his wing back and you lose the ball, then you’re potentially light at the back especially if you play two strikers because then it’s two v two.
“It’s all about your positional play out on the pitch, that’s what football has been and always will be about, hard work allied to that.
“You must set traps and plans. You have to have an idea that if the ball breaks down here, where you’re going very quickly with it and what’s your intention.
“They will have counter plans and know what to do if they lose the ball. Their players are usually in different positions to teams who play three or four at the back. This is just a slightly different way of doing it and credit to them, they have found a way which helps them win football matches. They have an identity and a way of playing.”