clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Sunderland v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light

Filed under:

Mowbray is perfect for this young Sunderland squad — but for how long?

After losing three games against Boro, Stoke and Leicester, there were grumblings of discontent regarding Tony Mowbray - however, he is proving to be a pivotal figure in the club's recent history.

Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Around the time of the three consecutive losses, I was at home on half term (I’m a teacher, not a student) and I stumbled across a re-run of the 2021 Playoff Final between Blackpool and Lincoln. That year, we fell at the semi-final hurdle to Lincoln with a bit of a whimper. It got me thinking about just how quickly we have completely overhauled our squad in a short space of time but more importantly; how Mowbray is exactly what we need right now.

It seems some fans have forgotten just how far we’ve come in the past few years since KLD and Speakman entered the fray and just how good a job Mowbray has done over the past year.

Mowbray is a calm and experienced head coach who is leading a crop of talented youngsters to the next part of their careers. He is allowing these youngsters to play some of the best free-flowing attacking football this club has seen in years.

We have been competitive in all games this season and even when we do lose, the Stoke game aside, we have looked like a good footballing team who are progressing with each game. Quite the progression from the beginning of last season when all we wanted was to stabilise the club in the championship.

Swansea City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images

There are times when Mowbray’s decisions, especially those tactically, can be strange. In my opinion, he overthinks the simple tweaks and can quite easily make us look quite unbalanced for games when we don’t necessarily need to be, and he can make odd substitutions, especially when chasing games, which can be infuriating as a fan.

Personally, I don’t think Mowbray has the skill set to lead this group to the Premier League or even a Championship Title challenge, but he serves a purpose as to where the club is right now and where it aims to be in the future.

In that sense he is the perfect manager for us right now. He is helping to lay the foundations of a squad that will serve us well in years to come. In time, I think he will be seen as a catalyst to any future successes this team achieves.

As last season came to a close, no other than Fabrizio Romano tweeted that our hierarchy were courting Francesco Farioli; a talented young coach that was rumoured to have many admirers across Europe.

This came as no surprise to me that our hierarchy would make such an audacious and proactive move. They have proved that they will make big decisions at key times - Danny Batth is the most recent case in point. Letting our player of the year go seems to be a savvy bit of business now, but at the time many were baffled as to why our best player from the last campaign would be allowed to leave.

My belief is that they will have a new head coach in mind to replace Mowbray at any given time, and that shortlist will be ever-changing. Mowbray was brought in to steady the ship and develop youngsters. He has done that and is continuing to bring on this young squad.

A change will come eventually, but right now Mowbray is the perfect fit.

Sunderland v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

When will the change come?

A lot of talk, and rightly so, has been around getting in a striker that can score regularly. We do need a striker to start scoring. That is evident. But then don’t most clubs in our division have that issue? We are not alone in that. Strikers, good ones at least, that can score goals and add to our overall play as a team are even harder to find.

Personally I think Rusyn will be this man, but he will, along with all the others, need to be introduced team gradually and therefore be given time. What better coach is there in our league to bring the likes of Rusyn, Mayenda and Hemir through to make them effective strikers in the championship and possibly even the Premier League? Mowbray.

Sunderland v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Will Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

And when these strikers do start scoring, what a force we could potentially be.

It has been stated many times on our Podcast that we are a 20+ goal striker away from being a title challenger, and I would agree. Once this situation is sorted, I would argue we may be ready to start seriously considering making a serious challenge for the league. When this happens, I think our hierarchy will pull the trigger and recruit a young, up-and-coming head coach to lead us forward.

After beating Birmingham recently, it’s interesting to look at the opposition and how the appointment of Rooney not going to plan reaffirms, to me at least, just how good we’ve got it with Mowbray at the moment.

We may not win every game. We may have the occasional off game but overall we are coming away from any win, loss or draw with far more positives than negatives.

It means Mowbray is brilliant for right now. Definitely for the rest of the season. But with rumours last year linking us with a new head coach coupled with evidence of our hierarchy making big calls (Batth) at critical times, I think we could see a new head coach after the conclusion of this season, especially if we finally get that striker issue sorted.

The likelihood is that Clarke and/or Ballard will leave at the end of the season or even in January if silly money is offered. Our squad will be weaker without them no doubt, however, I am confident in the capabilities of the recruitment team and how we would replace them and how the core of this squad is developing.

The players will continue to make mistakes but that is part of the building process.

We must remember; it was only two full seasons ago we got beaten by Lincoln in a League One playoff semi-final and our future didn’t look that great.

The landscape of our future is far clearer and more exciting now than it ever has been, especially with Mowbray at the helm for the foreseeable.


The SAFC 365 Advent Calendar (Dec 7th): Seventh heaven at the Stadium of Light!


Fan Letters: “It may be harsh, but there’s logic behind Tony Mowbray’s Sunderland departure”


The Sunderland of 2023 is ruthless - much like modern football

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Roker Report Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Sunderland news from Roker Report