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Dear Roker Report,
I liked Tony Mowbray a lot and I was happy when he was appointed.
I think he’s a wise, experienced coach as well as a great man manager, and I love the fact that our club has a vision and a structure under Kyril Louis-Dreyfus.
For the first time in decades, I was proud my that club had a ‘model’ and despite his youth, our owner has been brought up in a football world and is apparently wise beyond his age.
The model seemed to incorporate the view that a coach was ‘just’ a coach, and you could replace him seamlessly without too much disruption.
The people in charge of recruitment, such as Kristjaan Speakman, are higher up the pecking order, and it’s here where I start to disagree with the structure.
By all accounts, Mowbray had a great relationship with all of the players, and they liked him.
Constantly changing the head coach would impact on that relationship and some players may even feel they want to move on or become less motivated to run through a brick wall.
However, this is my biggest source of confusion.
Dreyfus hired Lee Johnson, who was sacked when we were two points off the top. He also appointed Alex Neil who later jumped ship and must be feeling very smug with his decision, and now Mowbray has gone.
These were all Dreyfus appointments and I don’t want this club to go down the Watford route.
These are exciting times. We’re currently three points off the top six with a definite purpose and a strategy in place, but there’s a great deal to be said for consistency in staffing.
Making the coach more ‘fluid’ only means all eyes turn on the sporting director for a scapegoat, and eventually Dreyfus himself.
The new head coach, whoever that may be, has to reach the top six or he’ll be deemed a failure. If he can’t get a tune out of the youngsters, Speakman will also be deemed a failure and the whole thing could unravel.
I love our direction at the moment, but a flaw in the model has been exposed.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, John. Thanks for your letter.
I was sad to see Mowbray leave, because I felt he did a superb job during his time here, but a recent downturn in performances and results obviously couldn’t be overlooked by the hierarchy and the decision, rightly or wrongly, has been made.
Personally, I don’t believe that we’ll go down the ‘Watford route’ of ridiculously frequent managerial turnover, not least because we’re being run far more efficiently at boardroom level and there’s a genuine structure in place. Panic is not a hallmark of Sunderland AFC these days, and that’s a huge relief.
Whoever the next head coach is will have a good, solid platform on which to build, with a talented squad who are simply short of confidence and in need of direction.
The season still has a long way left to run, and if we can rebuild and generate some momentum over the Christmas period, the playoffs are certainly achievable by the end of the season.
Dear Roker Report,
I’d like to say ‘thanks’ to Tony Mowbray for bringing a smile to my family’s faces on Saturdays.
Take care mate, and have a nice relaxing Christmas.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, James. Thanks for getting in touch.
I think your sentiments will be shared by many Sunderland fans, as under Mowbray, we played some of the best football the Stadium of Light has seen in years, and he was an honest and decent man who always did his best for us.
It’s certainly been a relief to see a Sunderland head coach depart with his popularity still high, rather than being turned into a villain and run out of town with abuse and insults being hurled in his direction.
Dear Roker Report,
I was sorry to see Tony Mowbray go but in the end, our results were too up and down.
There was no consistency, and how can you go from beating Southampton 5-0 to losing 2-1 to Huddersfield?
I’m not sure, but whoever comes in must be the right fit for the club.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Anthony. Thanks for your letter.
There’s no doubt that we’ve been too erratic this season, and some of the performances and results have been completely unacceptable.
If the Middlesbrough defeat was a sour experience for everyone, the home loss to Huddersfield last week was alarming, and clearly the draw at Millwall on Saturday simply wasn’t enough to keep Mowbray in a job.
On our day, we can give anyone a run for their money, but those occasions had been fewer and farther between this season, which was obviously why the decision, as harsh as it might’ve felt, was made on Monday.
Dear Roker Report,
It’s strange that the Mags are looking forward to playing us, especially as they were previously saying we’re no longer a rival due to their status as the richest club in the world and Sunderland not being in the Premier League.
It must be because they finally have a chance of winning and the majority of their fans, including some celebrities, are predicting that they’ll hammer us.
This is a game where we need to stick together, get behind the team with constant singing, and make the stadium a cauldron of noise from start to finish with no booing or groans aimed at our own players.
Let’s make it a positive atmosphere which gives our players the confidence to try things, rather than wanting to get rid of the ball too quickly.
If we’re on the receiving end of a heavy defeat, it would be great if all of the fans stayed until the end to support the team.
This will mean a lot to the players and would show the watching TV audience around the world how we support them when things aren’t going to plan.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Peter. Thanks for getting in touch.
I honestly feel like I’m one of a very small number of Sunderland fans who’s genuinely looking forward to playing Newcastle in the FA Cup!
When the draw was made, there seemed to be a mixture of shock and concern in response, but I think it’s a fabulous opportunity for us to have a crack at them.
We may lose and lose heavily, but as long as the Lads go out there, give everything they’ve got and play without fear, I’ll be happy. It’s a huge game and a great chance for the young players to test themselves against a quality Premier League side.