BLACKBURN Rovers boss Gary Bowyer is ready to watch more matches from the stands after admitting his self-imposed stint away from the dugout has given him a fresh perspective.
For the first time in his senior managerial career Bowyer – whose side continue their play-off push at Middlesbrough tomorrow – did not venture toward the touchline in last weekend’s home win over Blackpool.
The 42-year-old took the decision after he felt he let himself down with his conduct toward the officials following the frustrating draw at Barnsley four days earlier.
A furious Bowyer questioned referee Sebastian Stockbridge’s decision to award the penalty from which the struggling Tykes scored their equaliser to earn a point.
Replays proved Stockbridge got it wrong but Bowyer, on reflection, concedes emotion got the better of him.
“I wasn’t happy with myself,” said Bowyer.
“I got myself in a little bit of trouble with the referee after the Barnsley game so I decided to go and watch the Blackpool match from the stands.
“It happens a lot in rugby – both in league and in union – and I thought it was a good opportunity to try it.
“It definitely does give you a different viewpoint and it’s something I potentially might continue with.
“When you are on the line you can easily get caught up in the emotion of the game and there are times when you have to remove yourself from that situation to make the correct calls.
“That was proved right on Saturday against Blackpool as from where I was sat I was able to do that.”
So given Rovers won, will Bowyer be able to return to the sidelines at Middlesbrough tomorrow?
He joked: “No, my OCD won’t let me!”
What is certain is that Bowyer is expecting a closely fought match. Rovers’ shut-out against the Seasiders made it 10 league clean sheets for the campaign, equalling the same amount they achieved last season.
While since Aitor Karanka – Jose Mourinho’s former assistant manager at Real Madrid – arrived at the Riverside in November, Middlesbrough have kept eight clean sheets in 14 league games.
Bowyer said: “I don’t want to put the mockers on it but both teams have done well in maintaining clean sheets.
“Their manager is going to come with a lot of experience, having worked with Mr Mourinho, and we knew it was going to be a tough place to go anyway.”
Rovers are, however, in good goalscoring form.
Since top scorer Jordan Rhodes broke the deadlock in the New Year’s Day win at Leeds United, six different players – Rudy Gestede, now departed skipper Scott Dann, Ben Marshall, Tom Cairney, David Dunn and new captain Grant Hanley – have found the net.
Bowyer is delighted that the goals are beginning to be shared around.
However he is tipping 16-goal Rhodes to end his six-match drought.
Bowyer said: “Jordan is due a goal that’s for sure and we hope that it arrives on Saturday.
“But while he may not have scored his work rate off the ball and his link-up play has got better.”
Middlesbrough – who are four points and four places below Rovers in 12th – have not scored in more than five-and-a-half-hours of football.
But head coach Karanka has strengthened his forward line with the loan capture of Danny Graham from Sunderland as well as bolstering his backline with the loan signings of young Chelsea duo Kenneth Omeruo and Nathaniel Chalobah.
Bowyer said: “They’ve brought some top Premiership players in so it’s going to be a difficult game for us.”