April 23, 2024

BirminghamLive’s latest Birmingham City news features Tony Mowbray’s preview of his first encounter against Swansea City.

After Wayne Rooney’s terrible spell at Birmingham City, Tony Mowbray should avoid the traps of changing too much, too quickly.

Mowbray takes charge of Swansea City at St Andrew’s for the first time since succeeding Rooney. The 60-year-old may prefer a possession-based, offensive style of play, but he does not intend to impose it on his new teammates right once.

Whereas Rooney went all-in in his first two games against Middlesbrough and Hull City in October, sparking a disastrous run of outcomes, Mowbray intends to drip-feed his mentality. Mowbray has taken over as manager of Blues, who are now 20th in the Championship, and has made results his first objective.

“Perhaps it’s the experience of 40 years, both as a player and as a manager, that is telling me without even thinking, ‘Woah, we have to play like this, we have to be a little bit guarded on that, because they are not ready yet,'” he added.

“I’m not watching them in practice, and they’re just popping the ball all over the place.” That is not the case. They appear to be well-organized and hardworking.”

Knighthead wants to construct a team that dominates possession, and Mowbray has been tasked with providing what Rooney couldn’t. According to the statistics, teams that play this style of football have a better chance of gaining promotion to the Premier League.

“In my opinion, if this club wants to create an identity and move forward, and they want to have top players and be at the top end of the table, they are going to have to swing from being 36 percent possession and 12 shots a game to 60-odd percent possession and 20-odd shots a game.” As I’ve tried to explain, I don’t have a magic wand, and Wayne didn’t have a magic wand.”

Mowbray’s pragmatism is likely to be the order of the day, especially against a Swansea team that has a history of playing the way Blues crave. The Swans deviated from their long-held strategy by employing Michael Duff in the summer before returning to form by adding the highly rated Luke Williams this week.

 

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Williams, 43, began his career at Swindon Town in 2015 before joining Swansea as Russell Martin’s assistant. He left for Notts County in 2022, and the Magpies gained promotion to League Two last year.

“I know him from Swindon Town, when I was at Coventry in League One,” Mowbray said. “He was one of the first lads I saw rotating inside full-backs before Pep Guardiola – unless he was watching Pep’s team on TV!” He was the first to try to overload particular areas of the field, making it appear as if they were playing with additional players.

 

“He’s a young, introspective coach.” For whatever reason, he did not go as quickly to the Championship or Premier League. I don’t know the reason, I haven’t really followed his career, other than I remember playing Swindon and thought, ‘Wow, he’s a bright football coach’.

“I recall having a long conversation with him after the game, and he was bright.” I just know him from sitting in an office and discussing football with him. They attack with one shape and defend with another, just like current teams. They have versatile players who can play two positions.

“I expect Swansea to try to dominate the ball in a typical Swansea performance.” We must be prepared for this. I believe it will be an interesting game.

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