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Luton Town v Sunderland: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final Second Leg

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Roker Roundtable: What could the future hold for Tony Mowbray at Sunderland?

Despite leading the Lads to a top six finish, rumours about a potential change of head coach are rife. We asked our writers for their thoughts on how things might play out

Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

Andrew Parrington says…

I think Mowbray has defied expectations by any metric, and if he wants to stay, I think he’s earned the right.

I’d be frustrated if after the managerial turnover of the last decade, we’ve got a chance of stability at the top and we pass it up.

I hope that this is just noise, and perhaps the club have been sounding out for the future if results turn against Mowbray or he decides to stop.

We’ve certainly learnt lessons from the gap between Lee Johnson and Alex Neil, but making an unforced change when Mowbray has proven he can deliver with the resources available doesn’t make sense to me, especially when it’s for the sake of a roll of the dice.

For me, the club ownership has earned a lot of credit for their decisions, which has taken us from turning into a standard League One outfit fighting to get into the playoffs into a young team with an identity, fighting to get back to the top flight.

I trust them to make the right long term decision for the club, but in my opinion that decision should be sticking with the person who’s successfully built trust between the players, the management and fans like very few others have done.

Luton Town v Sunderland: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final Second Leg Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

Ian Bendelow says…

Time to maybe start looking elsewhere? Worth keeping him for next season? What kind of stupid question is that?

Oh yes, of course it would be worth replacing the man who achieved a playoff place with a group of players he’s developed beautifully over the course of nine months.

No, no no no no. Sunderland don’t do low key pre-seasons.

Dinosaurs roamed the planet more recently than the time when all was quiet down SR5 between May and August. If it wasn’t Roberto di Fanti bringing in the clown show, it was Steve Bruce ripping it up and starting again at the end of each campaign. Don’t even get me started on David Moyes thawing out the Everton old boys’ club when he got the band back together in 2016.

For once, this is a chance to build and to tweak things slightly on a side that’s clearly on the right track. We’re blessed that many of the answers to our issues lie in the treatment room, and aren’t currently playing for another club.

To move on from Tony Mowbray would be criminal and I can’t stress enough how ridiculous it would be.

If nothing else, it could stunt the development of so many of our squad who’ve clearly thrived on the trust he’s placed in them. The harmony felt between all aspects of the club right now - from the fans to the board - mustn’t be tinkered with, and Mowbray leaving is something no one wants to see happen. If you do, your brain should be donated to medical science.

For God’s sake, don’t do it!

Joseph Tulip says…

This is a topic which sadly seems to be gathering momentum.

It’s already been said multiple times that the idea of replacing a head coach who’s overachieved and exceeded all expectations is illogical at best.

Tony Mowbray indicated some time ago that he spoke to Kristaan Speakman and had been told there was no truth to the rumours, but it’s a concern that at the time of writing, there’s been no statement from the club.

Like all fans, I’m not privy to what goes on behind the scenes, but on the face of it, the mere thought of removing Mowbray from his post would seem grossly unfair and downright wrong.

Like many, I struggle to see how any other manager or head coach could’ve eclipsed Mowbray’s work this season, not only in terms of results, but in the way he’s successfully shaped a group of talented young footballers into a genuine Championship force with a clear identity, and playing the best football seen at Sunderland in years.

I’ll reserve judgement until we hear from the club, but I desperately hope we hang onto a likeable, genuine footballing man who really has made a transformative impression on all involved with Sunderland AFC.

Well done Tony, and thanks for all you’ve done. We all want you to stay and continue the great work into next season.

Sunderland v Luton Town: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Tom Albrighton…

Here’s the catch: nobody wants Mowbray to leave but that doesn’t mean he won’t.

As part of this ownership model, we’ve already seen that those in charge are happy to take unpopular decisions in their pursuit of continual growth.

That means looking at all areas in which the club can improve and management is no exception to this. Should the club have a manager lined up to replace Mowbray who they believe is objectively better, then it’s entirely their prerogative to move forward with that, and based on the evidence of the last two seasons, they’ve probably earned enough trust amongst the fans in which to do so.

Doing so would be unpopular but a successful appointment would soon soften the blow.

Should Mowbray be relieved of his duties, it’s safe to assume that a whole host of criteria will have been looked at and analysed, which would be a far cry from the knee-jerk sackings from the past.

Mowbray himself would stand to benefit somewhat if he was to leave- a nice severance package, an enhanced reputation and of course, a place in the hearts of Sunderland fans forever more.

In an ideal world, we’d all like Mogga to stay on, but unfortunately it’s not our decision to make.

If the club do decide that Mowbray isn’t the man to take us to the next level, it would be prudent to keep him around the club as his experience and exemplary man management can only be an asset to the club going forward.

I’m in a strange (and likely minority position) on this.

Stay or go, I’ll not be happy nor unhappy about the situation provided the club doesn’t go backwards as a result and given their albeit limited track record so far, should Mowbray be relieved you’d have to back the board to replace him with the right man.

Of course, one potential pitfall of this situation will fast become the elephant in the room should Sunderland & Mowbray not replicate the form shown this season and will without a doubt leave supporters with questions of ‘what if?’

Ultimately, one day Mowbray will leave - as do all managers, it’s just about getting the timing right. Crucially, for Speakman and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, they have to rapidly assess whether that time is now.


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