Tony Mowbray took over as manager of Middlesbrough yesterday. I think all my fellow Boro fans will be delighted at this news.
For a start, he has taken a side out of the Championship before when he took WBA up, which wasn’ t something that his predecessor could have claimed.
But his appointment is more important than merely what he can achieve on the pitch. Mowbray, a locally born lad who captained the club with distinction in the 80s, will innately understand the club. He knows the local culture and he can set about restoring some warmth and heart to Middlesbrough FC; a warmth and heart that many feel was drained out of the club by Strachan’ s tenure.
A club like Middlesbrough has no tourist fans, it has no casual supporters. If the local community isn’ t engaged, inspired and excited by the football club then you get what Strachan created – dwindling attendances, disillusion and disappointment. Even the club shops sales were depressed.
Mowbray will understand the relationship between the club and the community. He will hopefully reconnect the youth team to the first team and once again bring local kids through. While you might argue only Adam Johnson and Stewart Downing have been big successes from the youth development at Middlesbrough that is to miss the point. By constantly feeding home-grown players into the first team, it gives the local community faith in the club. It bolsters the sense that dreams can be achieved through the club; that it’ s not just an inert institution.
This is so important to an unfashionable out of the way clubs like the Boro. It is part of their civic duty and certainly Chairman Steve Gibson sees it that way. The club is there for the people, to serve and feed their hopes and dreams on and off the pitch. Mowbray instinctively will understand this. A football club is more than just the eleven players on the rectangle of grass and I can see only good things happening under Mowbray. This might not even be promotion, not immediately, he’ s got all the Celtic players he dumped on Strachan to get rid of first, but more important than promotion, I think we’ ll see happier, more exciting times and just as importantly a bit of soul return to the club.