A Shapeshifters dance track, a Christina Aguilera studio album and a line from every single middle management meeting since time began.

What words do they all have in common? Back to basics.

Blackburn Rovers for all the endless pre-season talk of new playing styles and “having a good go” did just that on Saturday afternoon, resulting in a very timely and much needed first win of the season.

If you were after fancy passing triangles, multi-faceted player movement and all guns blazing attacking football then Ewood Park was not the place for you this weekend.

 

But necessity took priority over flair as Tony Mowbray looked to take the sting out of some early season-criticism that was fast building a head of steam… and it worked, whether you enjoyed the occasion or not.

The footballing premise was far from the most dynamic - keep the ball, work it into an area where you can just aim for the big lad up front and get your midfielders to gather around him for the knockdown and scraps. It sounds basic because it is. But it works, even if you don’t like the pre-historic Sam Allardyce fare.

And in Danny Graham Rovers have the most enduring of presences that makes it all work.

Tony Mowbray has spent £12m on two young strikers in an attempt to “move on” from direct Danny, but the classic still outranks the modern in both output and productivity.

That may not be the case for long but it’s hard not to marvel and also worry at how much Mowbray’s men continue to rely on our much beloved old hand.

The spectacle itself wasn’t much of a errr, spectacle but what Rovers lacked in style and artistic expression they made up for in blood and thunder.

Tony Mowbray

It’s hard not to root for a Rovers sidel charging around with that level of gusto, crashing into tackles and closing down at will.

They’re the qualities that have served us so well during Mowbray’s rebranding of Rovers - they’re the basic principles of the brand and it’s a product I’ll continue to buy from. Especially after those god awful, soulless, characterless days that preceded his arrival.

By re-embracing the basics the defence looked far more solid, the side a more organised unit and the foundations a lot sturdier from which to build. 

That’s not to suggest Rovers were perfect, far from it. There’s certainly some scope for improvement and we’ll play better sides than a lost looking Middlesbrough, currently governed by Lee Bowyer’s Leeds nightclub sparring partner Jonathan Woodgate. (Fun fact - Woodgate is married to the sister of current Rovers player Stewart Downing)

The developing midfield partnership of Bradley Johnson and Lewis Travis are a work in progress. They look good - there is no denying that, but they can manage better as their romance blooms by my reckoning.

Travis is a tremendous proposition when he has the shackles taken off and I fancy he could gamble on a forward run a bit more often. Johnson, despite his lack of mobility, is an imposing presence (just to stress - not a weight joke) and provides a defensive shield we haven’t enjoyed for a while.

It’s a protection that would allow Travis to go on the rampage more often and how Rovers have missed that forward moving midfielder for many a moon.

Blackburn Rovers Danny Graham celebrates scoring his sides first goal

We were also guilty as charged for playing it a bit too safe in our selection. Stewart Downing is your support cast not your star attraction and whilst he had a solid start he’s not got the endless legs he enjoyed during his heyday. That’s not his fault, none of us do.

I can’t help but think of the early damage we could have done to that fragile Teeside confidence if the likes of Adam Armstrong and/or Joe Rothwell had been allowed a run at them. Sometimes we’re a little too pre-occupied with guarding against enemy fire to take time to contemplate the damage we could inflict with a pre-emptive strike.

Other than that though the effort was endearing and the substitution choices seemed to simply be based on who was the most knackered out there. Bradley Dack, Danny Graham and Woodgate’s relative by marriage all had to stumble off after an ungodly level of effort.

How Sam Gallagher lasted 90 minutes I’ve no idea. He isn’t a winger by any means. I’m sorry he’s not, there is nothing you can say to convince me otherwise. But he ran himself into the ground and worked like a dog - and that really is all we ask for as fans. He’ll go very far churning out that level of effort in any endeavour.

However the end result came I’m just glad it did. Our boys are back in the game after a difficult start and there’s a chance to add to that renewed hope on Tuesday night as we take on Hull "extortionate ticketing policy" City in front of the Sky cameras.

If you don’t fancy spending half your mortgage payment taking your family to the match you can always just kick back and watch from the sofa. Small mercies and all that.

Let’s hope Tony gives the Tigers something to think about other than ripping off well meaning fans.