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

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Mowbray Matters: A measured look at the rumours that Sunderland might fancy a change of manager

Following rumours in the press that Sunderland could be considering a change in the managerial hotseat this summer, Andrew Smithson gives his take on whether Tony Mowbray’s position should even be up for discussion.

Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

I always hate the end of the season, no matter what the circumstances; the finality of it is horrible and I hate the idea of there being no games to go and watch for a bit.

It seems even worse this time though, as within hours of losing to Luton rumours had already started surfacing about potential sales and managerial changes, so it feels as if we’ll not get the chance to fully take stock and appreciate the great run we have been on.

Tony Mowbray has been a big part of that and he was talking recently about how much he has enjoyed his role and how his work-life balance is suiting him, so purely on a human level it is a shame that things may not be going to last.

He strikes me as a canny fella, and the game certainly needs them.

There were already one or two whispers about his position though, and his post-match comments perhaps suggest there is more substance to them than we realised.

From the club’s point of view, I can see why they would want to be on top of things and keep a check on who is out there, and if that means they have discovered someone they want to move for now then you can understand them acting quickly.

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

It is better to be proactive than reactive I suppose, and if the hierarchy thinks that for whatever reason a change is needed it makes sense to do it post-season.

It does feel harsh given results, mind, and it wouldn’t necessarily be my choice, but after years of half-baked strategies and models I am pleased to see Sunderland coming up with a way of doing things and sticking to it.

There will have to be times when we are ruthless and have to sell or say goodbye to people sooner than we expected, but as long as it is done for the right reasons and handled properly and with respect then we have to get used to it.

I do wonder if behind the scenes the late Playoff push caught a few people out and muddied the situation slightly.

Mowbray’s remit was possibly just to steady the ship and keep things ticking over following Alex Neil’s departure, so for him to do as well as he has reminds me a bit of Malcolm Crosby and his appointment.

The plan may have always been to move him on, and I dare say that had Blackburn not beaten Millwall on the final day of the regular season that would have seemed a little less surprising. There can be little room for sentimentality after all, but it would certainly be a risk so any potential new coach coming in will have to be pretty special.

Sunderland v Watford - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

How the players react if there is a switch will be interesting.

Perhaps they get used to these things happening and deal with it a lot more pragmatically than fans, and for it to happen this way would at least suggest planning instead of turmoil, which has often been the vibe in the past, so they may not see much in it. I dare say quite a few would be sorry to see Mowbray leave though, and I would be in the same boat.

He comes across as a good mentor and steady influence for our youngsters and has overseen some superb results already.

You get very little in the way of histrionics or chew from him either, and with a fully fit squad I’d back him to do well.

Whether it would fit the vision of those above however remains to be seen.


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