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Farewell, Tony, and thanks for the Sunderland memories

“The timing might've come as a shock, but Tony Mowbray’s departure as head coach felt like several weeks in the making,” writes Paddy Hollis.

Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Sunderland’s decision to part company with Tony Mowbray may look like a bizarre one from the outside.

After all, we currently sit ninth in the league and are just three points off the playoffs, but for those of us within the supporters’ circle, it feels like a decision with an air of inevitability about it.

Mowbray’s time at Sunderland was one of progression and excitement.

In just over a year at the helm, he coached a young attacking squad into playing risky but brave football and helped us to enjoy following our club again after a long time of often watching through the gaps in our fingers.

He ultimately overachieved in his first season and to an extent, that contributed to his downfall.

Reaching the playoffs was probably not on the agenda during 2022/2023, but expectations shifted as a result and our current run of five losses in nine games has seemingly sealed his fate.

Sunderland vs Huddersfield Town Sky Bet Championship Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Our form on the pitch has slumped and Mowbray had the look of a beaten man in recent weeks.

He had a clear issue with resolving problems in recent games, with the lack of a Plan B contributing to his downfall.

Despite the disappointing end, however, there’s plenty of positive moments we can remember him for, not least because he always came across as a steady hand and a calm head to lead a young squad.

He made a big deal of saying that he wanted the players to go out and express themselves, and we saw great results because of this. He was a man who looked as though he got through to the squad and that he’d bought into what Kristjaan Speakman and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus are building.

He spoke of such passion with his players at times, and it seemed like he genuinely felt privileged to have this group of footballers at his disposal. We saw some great moments on the pitch, and for me they were some of the best I’ve had in following this football club.

Plymouth Argyle v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by MB Media/Getty Images

Ellis Simms’ last-minute goal at home to Blackburn on Boxing Day, the relentless singing of his chant down at Birmingham and watching my team play brave, attacking football against a good Premier League side in the FA Cup filled me with the kind of pride I’ve not had in many years of watching Sunderland.

Mowbray gave us a reason to enjoy watching our team play again.

He got the club, the fans, and what we wanted to achieve. Ultimately, he probably should’ve probably been let go with a bit more respect back in the summer, but football is a cruel game.

He’ll easily get another role again, and his work on Wearside will make a fine addition to his CV. The chocolate supplies of Sunderland will once again be plentiful, but fans across the world will be grateful for what he did during his short time at our club.


Pause for thought


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