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South Shields v Sunderland Pe-Season Friendly

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How is Tony Mowbray approaching pre-season with Sunderland?

As the team pack their bags to head for the US leg of their pre-season program, Saturday’s post-match interview with Tony Mowbray will have given Sunderland fans a lot to think about.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

What is becoming crystal clear is that Mowbray’s scope of influence remains firmly on the training pitch and the dugout on match days.

His is a very laid-back approach to pre-season. The results don’t matter he says, and the win-to-loss ratio is all too often not carried over to when the action starts for real, therefore, don’t read too much into the results.

He simply wants to get the fitness levels up, and give time on the pitch to his squad.

It is telling that our opponents in the United States have not been subject to a detailed level of research. Mowbray was clear that he has little or no idea of the standard of the teams we will face, although he believes they will prove to be a physical challenge to the team mirroring the pace of the MLS.

What he is excited about is the fact the squad will be together for the next 12 days or so, and he hopes that this will allow the new players to integrate into his first team squad as they travel, stay, train and play as a unit.

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However, when it comes to transfers it is clear that Mowbray’s involvement has been limited to the initial discussions around were the gaps look to be. The identification of the players to fill those gaps is clearly led by Kristjaan Speakman and his recruitment team.

The most animated part of his comments post the Gateshead game was around the need for reinforcements and soon. It is clear that the long-term injuries suffered last season show little signs of seeing the likes of Stewart, Alese, and Evans back in meaningful action in August, so without a doubt some attacking options are much needed.

We have to hope that Speakman will not fall into the trap we faced in January where with Ross Stewart suffering a major injury, we seemingly put all our hopes on the fact that Ellis Sims would return on loan only to be left without a recognised forward.

Amad is being touted to premiership sides and despite the wish of all at the club to see him return it is highly unlikely so we really need to move on.

What defined the start of the window was that we did our business quickly and were not drawn into lengthy media speculation linking up with the player long before the obligatory scarf picture at the AoL.

Our need for striking options have seen the club linked with Simms amongst others, but it is clear from Mowbray’s body language that he wants a striker sooner rather than later.

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He has said that he believes there are one or two deals in the pipeline and he hopes they will turn into a new face or two in the coming days.

Clearly, there are weeks of the window to go and there is no need for panic.

We have to hope that the transfer pipeline is well-stocked and that the scouting team have identified several players they believe are capable of filling the final pieces in this season’s squad.

There is a need for a degree of experience to be part of those plans, as the exciting youngsters will need some older heads on the pitch and in the dressing room in what will be a tough season in one of the strongest Championships in many years.

We can but hope and it will be good to see a smile or two on Mowbray’s face in the coming weeks as he sees the plans falling into place.

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