Rovers step up managerial search after Tony Mowbray departure

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Tony Mowbray will leave Rovers after five years in charge
Tony Mowbray will leave Rovers after five years in charge

Rovers will step up their managerial search after confirming the departure of manager Tony Mowbray.

The club say they reached a joint decision that will see the manager leave at the end of his contract, which runs to June 30, after five years in charge.

However, despite still having six weeks to run on his contract, Mowbray isn’t expected to be back at the club after saying his goodbyes to the staff following a post-season debrief at the start of the week.

He met with chief executive Steve Waggott and Venky’s advisor Suhail Pasha on Wednesday before the news of his departure was confirmed by the club.

In that statement, Rovers said: “The recruitment process for appointing a new manager will now begin and the club will make no further comment on the matter at this stage.”

The club hadn’t made active moves to find Mowbray’s successor before Wednesday night, the outgoing manager having confirmed his upcoming departure prior to the final home game of the season against Bournemouth.

As a result of Mowbray’s comments in the press, out-of-work managers put their names into the ring, with over 60 applications having been received to date.

Mowbray believes the club needs to move for a development coach willing to work with young players given the make-up of the current squad, though equally there is a train of thought that the club could look for another experienced hand.

That could come down to the behind the scenes structure and whether Rovers move for a director of football to work above the manager, a position that would have to be filled, as well as that of head of recruitment with John Park set to follow Mowbray out of the door.

Rovers last had a director football operations in 2017, albeit a position that was short-lived, as Paul Senior arrived in the January of that year, only to leave after relegation to League One.

With the managerial search in its infancy, it appears the net is being cast far and wide and it is understood that some representatives have held back from putting their clients names forward until it became clear what type of manager the club were looking at.

Though with the players back for pre-season training in around five weeks, there is plenty of work to be done as Rovers plan for the post-Mowbray era, without input from chief executive Waggott and the owners.

In the club statement there was no mention of Mowbray’s staff, though it is expected that will be clarified soon.

His long-term assistant Mark Venus has been with the club since the summer of 2018, with first-team coach David Lowe and goalkeeping coach Ben Benson working alongside Mowbray since his arrival.

Damien Johnson’s role as player development and first-team technical coach is unlikely to be affected by the changes.

Venus has worked alongside Mowbray throughout his career, but has stayed on after Mowbray’s departure, including at his previous club, Coventry City.

He has worked closely with current head of recruitment Park, and previous incumbent Stuart Harvey, and while his time as assistant manager may come to an end, there is the prospect of him staying on in a different capacity.

It is understood that Venus’ contractual situation is separate to that of Mowbray, who said he couldn’t speak for his assistant when asked of his future.

The bookmakers odds have largely been unmoved of late, with former Norwich City manager Daniel Farke, still the favourite and would be the preferred choice of most supporters.

Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth is the sole in-work manager of the top 10 candidates listed by bookmakers, with Simon Grayson and Duncan Ferguson also short-priced odds for the role.

Venky’s are looking for their eighth permanent manager since taking over the club in 2010.

Of their appointments so far, only one, Michael Appleton was in work, though Gary Bowyer and Steve Kean were handed the job while already under contract at the club, with the rest having spent time out of the game before being named as Rovers manager.

Mowbray had been without a club for six months, Owen Coyle a month, Paul Lambert for nine months and Henning Berg for a year.

As for the time without a manager, only 20 hours separated the departure of Coyle and Mowbray’s appointment.

Between Lambert’s final game for the club and Coyle’s appointment there were 26 days, while five days separated Bowyer’s departure and Lambert’s arrival.

Between Berg and Appleton there were 15 days, while 33 days separated the departure of Kean and Berg’s appointment.

Pre-dating Venky’s, at the start of the century, Rovers were without a manager for some 133 days, as Graeme Souness replaced Brian Kidd, with Tony Parkes having a 26 game caretaker spell.

As for the age profile of manager, they have got progressively older.

Kean and Berg were 43, while Appleton only 37 when appointed. Since then Rovers have appointed managers aged 41 (Bowyer), 46 (Lambert), 49 (Coyle) and 53 (Mowbray).

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