IT might be forgivable, even wholly understandable, in the aftermath of Wednesday’s agonising Capital One Cup defeat at Swansea City, had Tony Mowbray spent the long trek home catching up on some shut-eye or with his head in a good book.
Instead, the Middlesbrough manager watched a DVD of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Between timing and the weather, preparation for today’s Championship home game with the Molineux outfit has had to be improvised.
Typically, though, Mowbray is unmoved, and hopes only his players are too and are thus able to justify their third-place spot in the table.
He said: “We made the decision the other day not to do any preparation for the Wolves game on the pitches, but we will be on the smart boards, the tactics boards.
“It’s still early from Wednesday night, so preparation will be minimal.
“That’s not an excuse because that’s the Championship.
“Not for the first time this season we have had very little time on the training ground, but we have a good work ethic in the group and we will be fine.”
Mowbray added: “This weekend’s game looks tough.
“It will be a big ask for us because Wolves have won the last two games and will be in confident mode.
“Wolves had no wins in nine and then got two back-to-back, so they will be confident about themselves.
“We have to utilise our squad beneath the first XI. We need them to feel the reasons why we are sitting third in the league at the moment.
“I try to be thorough with the opposition. Within the way we play, we try to apply our strengths to their weaknesses and try to nullify their weaknesses.
“That’s why sometimes you play Richie Smallwood left midfield or Nicky Bailey on the right.
“If you don’t do that then sometimes you have a mismatch with their fast, powerful winger. You try to find strengths and weaknesses.
“We know Wolves have not had a game in midweek, we know what their team will be. You have to be able to nullify an opponent’s strengths because modern football is a tactical game.”
He went on: “I generally try to watch footage of the opposition as much as I can and I had to do that on Thursday on the way back from Swansea.
“I got on the coach the other night with the laptop ready for me to watch a Wolves game..
“I have only watched one game and sometimes I might watch three, but it’s OK because Veno (Mowbray’s assistant Mark Venus) has seen them live as well.
“We know what their strengths and weaknesses are. Wolves are a strong, powerful team. It’s a dangerous game for us. It might not be a bad thing we have players injured, we can put fresh players in against a strong, physical team.
“We made five changes for Swansea. That’s a positive rather than a negative because I can play Smallwood instead of Bailey or I can play Marvin Emnes instead of Emanuel Ledesma or Lukas Jutkiewicz instead of Ishmael Miller.
“Nobody thinks ‘what’s he doing?’, because they realise they all have a part to play here.”