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Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Analysing Tony Mowbray’s in-game management against The Rs

Some smart substitutions and tactical tweaks helped the Lads to overturn a 1-0 deficit on Saturday. How much credit does Mogga deserve for how he handled it?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

When he arrived at Sunderland, I seem to remember reading that in-game management was a supposed weakness of Mowbray’s, but there have been a few occasions where he’s made telling changes and Saturday was one of the best examples yet.

When you’re behind, it’s easy to just lob people on for the sake of it, but what we saw against QPR and in the past is far more structured and thought out.

There’s a positive mindset from him to do things early enough to make an impact and the fact he often does it away from home- when few would grumble if we just settled for a point- suggests confidence in the systems that are worked on.

We’ll often see tweaks to the formation as well as the personnel, and that’s vital when managers try to sit in and simply allow us to have the lion’s share of possession.

It makes a real difference in the Championship where some of the weaker sides struggle with a ‘Plan B’, and I think there are a lot of teams who are unable to cope when we switch things around and look to get on the front foot.

Certainly, the quality of player at Mowbray’s disposal helps.

Sunderland v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

On Saturday, the loss of Dennis Cirkin and Bradley Dack saw us bring in two players with international experience- Niall Huggins and Mason Burstow- with the latter also having Premier League minutes under his belt already this season, so it’s not as if Mowbray was scraping the barrel.

The bench was still remarkably strong even after those changes, and defenders must hate seeing some of these lads getting ready to come on when they’ve already had a job on against the starting eleven.

However, merely having the talent available will only count for so much.

We hear that the coaching staff all take an active role and of course there are lot of analytics to hand now. Mowbray is ‘old school’ in some regards but he’s also clued up enough to recognise the value in taking on board the opinions of others and using the tools available.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

He seems to be a good man manager as well, and if players have missed out in recent weeks or haven’t been involved from the start, they still seem to be up for it when they come on - just look at how Alex Pritchard has been doing from the bench.

All four lads brought on at QPR made an impact, and the substitutes will continue to be important over the course of a long season.

It’s a stark contrast to years gone by, where changes seemed to be an afterthought.

A goalless draw at Aston Villa in 2014 springs to mind, where the hosts were again reduced to ten men but we couldn’t change our approach. Although there are a lot of factors at play behind the decisions, Mowbray is clearly adept enough despite what we may have been led to believe.

It won’t work every time, but it’s good to see us putting the current allowances to our advantage, so long may it continue!


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