Bowyer: Boro are on different planet under Venus
BLACKBURN Rovers boss Gary Bowyer is not surprised that Mark Venus has made a flying start as Middlesbrough’s caretaker manager.
Venus brings Boro to Ewood Park tomorrow (3pm) on the back of a 4-0 win over Doncaster Rovers in his first match in temporary charge.
The thumping victory did much to restore morale at the Riverside Stadium after Tony Mowbray – the Championship’s longest-serving boss – was sacked for winning just five games in the calendar year.
But Bowyer believes Boro have better players than their form in 2013 suggests.
He said: “They’ve got some fantastic players.
“Grant Leadbitter is probably one of the top midfielders in the division.
“They spent wisely in the summer and quite heavily in the summer.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game for us.
“All we can do is prepare ourselves.
“Middlesbrough were impressive last week going forward and we’ve got to be wary of that.
“But at the same time we’ve got a good threat going forward ourselves so it should be a good, entertaining game.”
Goals have been hard to come by at Ewood of late. A 0-0 draw with Huddersfield Town was followed by a 1-0 win over Watford and a 1-0 defeat to Charlton Athletic.
But with Venus vowing to play an attacking brand of football as long as he remains in the hotseat – Boro have hit net the 23 times this season, with only Burnley, Derby County and Watford having scored more – Bowyer is confident fans will be treated to a more open game tomorrow.
Rovers chiefs are anticipating a bigger crowd for the game after slashing admission prices across the board.
Kids can get in for a quid, concessions for £6 and adults for £12.
Bowyer said: “Hopefully we can generate an atmosphere and get more people coming through the door.
“It would be great to hear Ewood rocking.”
Boro supporters have also been taking up the offer.
As of yesterday more than 1,700 away tickets had been sold.
Should Boro fans roar their team to victory that would strengthen Venus’ claims of landing the job full time.
It is not long since Bowyer was in his counterpart’s position.
Bowyer was Rovers’ caretaker manager on two occasions last season – with his second spell coming after Henning Berg was sacked following the 1-0 loss at Boro on Boxing Day – before being handed the job on a permanent basis in May.
Bowyer said: “When you go into the games as a caretaker all you can do is put the onus on the players to perform.
“You’re not sure on what’s happening so you just have to go game by game.
“You just have to concentrate on making sure the players are ready and help them prepare the best you can.
“Full credit to Middlesbrough and Mark Venus because they did that last week against Doncaster.”
Rovers have not won in three matches and go into tomorrow’s game seven points behind the play-off places.
Bowyer said: “We feel we should have more points on the board for our performances.
“That’s now the key for us – start collecting the points that merit the performances.”
Bowyer could include Dickson Etuhu in his squad tomorrow after he played an hour of Tuesday’s Lancashire FA Senior Cup win over Rochdale.
Fellow midfielder David Dunn did not feature in the tie.
But there is a possibility he may be on the bench against Boro.
Bowyer said: “Dickson came through his first 60 minutes on Tuesday, so he’s getting closer, and David Dunn joined in training.
“We’re hoping to bring one or two back into the squad.”
Yesterday’s training session also featured a rare goal from midfielder Jason Lowe.
Lowe, who last week signed a new contract extension with the club, is still to break his duck for Rovers after 95 matches.
Bowyer joked: “Jason scored this morning in training. There were calls for him to be drug tested and everything!
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