Rovers started 2023 with a 1-0 win over Cardiff City which left Jon Dahl Tomasson delighted at picking up his first three points of the New Year. After the conclusion of the 12pm kick-off, he discussed his side’s performance with RoversTV.
“It’s a brilliant way to start a new year. Winning at Ewood Park and earning a clean sheet is great. Cardiff City were never going to be an easy opponent, and we saw that immediately after they set up with a 5-4-1 and sat back to play against the ball. They had a good gameplan, but we started the first-half with good energy and played some good football. At half-time, we spoke about solutions and how we can become more dangerous with the ball. In the second-half, the boys took our discussion on board and we scored a great goal through Bradley (Dack), although I do feel we should have scored two or three.
“After Joe (Rankin-Costello) got injured, I had to change the system to have five defenders, with Scott (Wharton) coming on. It was not the perfect way to see out the game, as I would have rather played with four defenders, than five, but it needed to change. We dug in there, the boys did an excellent job and we claimed all three points in what has been a hard week. The squad is quite stretched with injuries and suspensions, but the boys dug in there for the fans, who helped us get over the line. I think, over the course of the game, it was a well-deserved victory. We were the better team today, and we came with the mentality that we wanted to win the game.
“When you suffer the big injuries that Bradley has, it’s difficult to get back to your old self. I tried myself to recover from the same knee injury and I failed to return and had to retire. He had two terrible injuries and I really feel for the boy, because you never know if you can return to the level you were playing at before. We speak very honestly together about the injuries. He’s not capable of playing three full games in a week, but it was great to see him score. I know he scored against Preston North End, but we don’t want to talk about that terrible game. It was great to see him score and also dig in at the end to help the boys over the line and earn a clean-sheet and three points.
“Bradley’s great quality is there for everyone to see. We know he’s great on the ball, but we also know that he’s sometimes a challenge without the ball. He’s working on that and he’s trying his best and we’ve had very conversations about this topic. He’s told me that he’s not back to where he wants or needs to be, but we are working on that, and hopefully he’ll reach those levels.
“When you’ve been out for so long and been denied playing time in this beautiful game, you get that desire to be back, to be involved and to hear the crowd again, which is understandable. He’s been working hard ever since I arrived. He had a setback in pre-season and hadn’t started a game for a very long time, but now he’s started more games this season, than in the last two seasons.
“There was a lot of desire in this team today. We were tired. We all know that we’re stretched. A lot of the players played a few days ago against Middlesbrough, but also on Boxing Day away at Sunderland. I think it was a well-deserved victory and a huge compliment must be given to all the lads.
“Every month, every game is important in order to move the club in the right direction, so that we can develop players. It’s not just about transfer windows, or January. It was great to see (Jake) Garrett get minutes and put in such a great performance. We can’t buy players. We don’t have the financial capacity to compete, so we have to develop and create players and try to improve them. Garrett’s performance showed that philosophy today.
“I think, in every window, you need to bring players in and let players go. You always need competition and let those who haven’t played that much get games elsewhere. We need players who want to improve and have the desire to go forwards. Let’s see what happens throughout January. We all know that we don’t have the money to spend, like the rest, but we need to do things a little bit differently.
“As of today, there’s nothing to do with transfers, but things can change in football, so I won’t promise anything. We are working hard as staff and the club are working hard behind the scenes to try and make us stronger by February.
“Joe (Rankin-Costello) is in an awkward position, which is a shame because he’s done really well recently and I feel sorry for him. His injury was one of the reasons why I had to change formation, because we were stretched on the bench. I don’t know exactly what his injury problem is, but we’ll assess him over the next few days. Joe has done an excellent job since we’ve come back after the World Cup. I think everybody knows that Joe would have wanted more minutes in the first-team, but he’s been playing well in the games at the training ground, when he’s not been in the squad. I try to give every player an individual training programme, which makes sure they’re ready when called upon, which was the case with Joe. I’m very happy with him, and I don’t think we should be sending Joe away, not at all, he’s done a good job.
“I think Jake’s earnt two Man of the Match Awards in his young career so far. In training, he goes up and down. One day he’s not that good and then the next day, he’s brilliant. He’s a player who can defend and tackle, but he’s also a player who can attack and pick out passes. His development and his performance today is very positive for him and for the club.”