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Our writers react to Tony Mowbray’s Sunderland exit - was it the right decision?

Mogga’s spell as our head coach came to an end on Monday evening, and we asked our writers for their thoughts on his Stadium of Light departure

Photo by Rhianna Chadwick/PA Images via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says...

I think somebody needs to tell the club hierarchy that if they want to beat Newcastle United, they need to make a managerial change the game before instead of the month before.

However, all jokes aside, it does seem oddly timed, as does the Monday evening announcement.

Hopefully it points towards a replacement being imminent, as otherwise it would seem a bit too soon. The players appeared to love Mowbray and were still playing for him, and whilst professionals are used to managerial changes, it wouldn’t make sense to unsettle them with a long period under a caretaker.

Although it wouldn’t have been my preference to let him go at this point, previous appointments under this regime have always been an improvement and this latest decision may make more sense once we know who’s being lined up.

Something might’ve changed in the background to hasten the move as well. Mowbray has been starting to question things publicly after all, and perhaps somebody the club has been eyeing up for a while has now become available.

Whatever happens next, we must thank Mowbray for his efforts.

We played some lovely stuff under him and scored some cracking goals, and he’s a top bloke. Being a nice guy isn’t always appreciated in this sport, but it’s what some of our squad have needed.

Few bosses get to leave the club with their head held as high, as normally they’re being chased out with the team down at the bottom of the league.

To be able to take the next step from a position of relative strength is a nice place to be in, and for moving the team on I’ll always be grateful.

Good luck, Tony!

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Anthony Gair says...

I’m actually quite nonplussed at the news.

Mowbray was a magnificent servant during the fifteen months he was here and he’s taken us from strength to strength, but his managerial history would have you believe that he’s taken us as far as he can.

I’m quite gutted that we’ll no longer see him chew on a pack of Revels in front of a full press conference, and his quotes and soundbites that make him sound like everyone’s favourite grandad.

However, the recent run of form couldn’t be ignored.

We’re on a downward spiral and we’re not playing the football we’re capable of. In addition, there’s been no ‘Plan B’ throughout his tenure. Yes, ‘Plan A’ should be good enough but when it isn’t, we look absolutely clueless.

In saying that, who do we replace him with? It’s quite worrying, and is someone lined up?

Thank you for your time here, Tony, and for pushing us into the playoffs last season. Good luck in the future.

Ewan Bowman says...

For me, it’s no major surprise.

Last season, Mowbray had us playing outstanding football but during 2023/2024 so far, the tables have turned and performances, particularly in the last few weeks, have simply not been good enough.

His in-game management has also come into question, with his substitutions having very little impact on matches.

The chopping and changing of the starting eleven on a regular basis also indicated that he didn’t know the best formula to take us forward. He looked crestfallen and surely knew his days were numbered.

To take us into the top six last season was miraculous, but eight defeats in nineteen games so far simply isn’t good enough.

Thanks for the memories and good luck, Mogga, but ultimately the decision is the correct one.

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

Gary Engel says...

There have been warning signs since May that something wasn’t quite right between Mowbray and Sunderland’s top brass.

He’d exceeded expectations during 2022/2023 and it became apparent that the fans wouldn’t have been happy with his untimely removal in the summer.

However, despite some of our flowing football and dominant displays, we’ve not quite looked the same force since the playoff semi-final first leg.

Of course, some might put that down to missing Amad, but we’ve often looked bereft of ideas and since the first match of the season, there have been signs we’d been found out.

Our passing and fancy footwork has papered over the cracks in several games and some of the compliments we’ve received throughout the season (including during our display at Leicester) weren’t made lightly.

Mowbray was generally the perfect father figure to bring many of these players on, but it had become doubtful as to whether he could take them to the next level.

We can only admire the job he did during his time here, and he’s not at fault for any of the errors in recruitment, but he had try to fill the questionable gaps left by either a lack of experience or by sticking rigidly to the preferred ‘one forward’ system.

It could be argued there were other systems he should’ve tried to utilise but a lack of goals has sadly been Mowbray’s downfall.

Thanks for the football, the memories, for steadying the ship and raising expectations, Tony.

Kelvin Beattie says...

Without knowing what’s going on behind closed doors, it seems like a harsh decision. However it’s been done and we have to hope that a replacement is already inbound.

I’ve witnessed some great football under Mowbray, as well as some fantastic goals.

His tenure saw the enjoyment return and his clear ability to work with younger players really suited our DNA.

I thought that our model would be less inclined to resort to the managerial merry-go-round that’s so damaged our club for decades, but maybe head coaches will be like some players: short term assets that are moved on when it’s deemed good for the club.

Best of luck, Mogga, and thanks for some very happy memories.

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Kyle Garrett says...

I think the time is right but I’m still shocked that it’s happened.

Mowbray has brought life back to football at the Stadium of Light, and for that we can only thank him.

Some of the goals we scored under him were truly amazing, but unfortunately things just haven’t worked out for him this season. No Plan B has cost us and his substitutions are questionable to say the least.

Thank you for everything, Tony, but now I’m very excited and intrigued to see who we bring in!

Malc Dugdale says...

As a decent football bloke and a leader-come-father figure to a team filled with young players for most of his reign, Mowbray has been pretty amazing in a lot of ways in my view.

He arrived when we were dropped right in it by Alex Neil, and his time has been successful for all but the most recent couple of weeks.

I’m surprised this decision has occurred now given all that, but cracks were starting to appear.

It goes without saying that if we had a crystal ball when Neil walked out to tell us what Mowbray and the players would achieve, including managing without a real striker for most of last season and almost making it to Wembley twice in a row but for the lack of a fit centre back, we would’ve been very happy with what was to come.

I can only imagine that the hierarchy have another option ready lined up, as we’re sitting in a better position than we were last season in terms of points.

If Kristjaan Speakman and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus didn’t have an alternate coach ready to go, common sense would’ve suggested waiting until next summer, or at least for a few more weeks to see how we fare in the busy festive season, but something was causing common sense to be abandoned.

The lack of tactical variation was being exposed of late, and our inability to get so many strikers firing has likely cost Mowbray his job, and if we get someone in quickly, maybe we can fix those issues in time to push for the top six again.

It’s yet another interesting twist in the life of Mackems everywhere. This club is such an intriguing mystery these days, and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.

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

Michael Dunne says...

I’m not surprised but a little disappointed that Tony Mowbray has lost his job.

When he arrived at the club, my initial hesitation evaporated fairly swiftly when we got to see how he got the team playing.

Some of the matches last season were some of the most enjoyable for a long time.

Mowbray had his squad playing positive attractive football, which made going to games fun again in comparison to the chore it had become for many years.

Whilst we started the new season reasonably well up until a few weeks ago, things were taking a dispiriting turn. The team began to make countless mistakes in games whilst Mowbray looked like a man who’d lost interest in his job.

As Sunderland’s performances began to drop in the last few weeks, so did the likelihood of him remaining in the role. The relationship between himself and the club seemed strained for quite a while and I think in many ways it good that Mowbray leaves with a lot of goodwill from the fans.

The next step is very important, and I have faith that Kristjaan Speakman and co. will find that person.


Pause for thought


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