Dear Roker Report,
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but some of the stuff that has been written about Tony Mowbray is drivel.
What entitles supporters whose only experience is watching the team usually at home games to think they have the answers to a particular dilemma, rather than a man with vast experience and top coaching qualifications?
Mowbray may not be Italian, German or Spanish but he does understand the English game and in particular young players. We were never going to beat Burnley, who are perhaps the Championship’s top side and already equipped for the Premier League.
I didn’t see anybody moaning too much after some of the great results we’ve had this season, some of which were due to much-improved second half performances, and changes in tactics and personnel. Even when we have lost games under Mowbray, we have played progressive attractive football.
By all means voice an opinion, but don’t talk out of your backside.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi Stephen, thanks for getting in touch!
Opinions do seem to differ on Mowbray, depending on who you listen to, and I do think that some of it is based (slightly unfairly) on comparisons between himself and Alex Neil.
On one hand, Mowbray has shown admirable faith in our young prospects and is giving them every chance to impress, and on the other, results have often been patchy, and there are some glaring weaknesses that have yet to be fully rectified.
For what it’s worth, though, I think he’s doing a perfectly solid job.
We are roughly in the position that you might expect a newly-promoted team to be, and now that the likes of Ellis Simms are returning to the fold, there is a good chance that we can start to put an unbeaten run together and move ourselves up the league.
Dear Roker Report,
To expand on Chris Wynn’s excellent report on the Luton game, I was lucky enough to be invited to watch from one of the ‘seafront huts’ (hospitality boxes) courtesy of a Luton-supporting neighbour.
The advantage of this was its proximity to the Sunderland dugout, and I enjoyed Tony Mowbray’s non-stop encouragement of key players and his regular chats with the fourth official!
Having not been to a live game for a while, I was impressed by the professionalism of the warm-up and the warm-down, and the commitment, energy and fitness of the team throughout the game gave me much hope for the future.
Richard Taylor (Harpenden, Herts)
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi Richard, thanks for your letter.
The one thing that always strikes me about Mowbray is just how animated he is on the touchline, particularly at home games.
He prowls around his technical area for the entire ninety minutes, throwing his arms up theatrically and cajoling his players at every given opportunity. For a man approaching sixty, his energy is impressive!
The old phrase ‘the coach headed and kicked every ball’ certainly applies to Mowbray, and I do enjoy watching his touchline antics.
Dear Roker Report,
I have never been so incensed to complain about Sunderland, even after our last decade of performances, but after reading Peter’s comments about Tony Mowbray last week, my feelings have been confirmed.
Personally, I have never been a fan of Mowbray, which was reinforced with the ‘glass half empty comment’.
During the Luton game, I saw nothing of value. Mowbray’s initial success came off the back of the organisation left by Alex Neil, but since then we often look all over the place, with no real magic going forward.
Where is the passing around, with players finding space?
Thank you Tony, for stepping in when needed, but bugger off back to the Baggies, where their delusions suited you.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Thanks for getting in touch, John.
I do think that was quite a harsh assessment of Mowbray’s time at Sunderland so far.
Admittedly, there are areas of our game that can be improved, and certainly defensively, but when the likes of Dan Ballard and Aji Alese are back, things will certainly start to improve.
Regarding our style of play, we probably haven't been as expansive as we’d like to be, but we’ve shown what we’re capable of, in the first half against Burnley and during the second half against Luton.
Maintaining that for ninety minutes is key, and I’m sure that Mowbray will be working hard with the players to build up their confidence, which is so important at this level.