Dear Roker Report,
Contrary to frequent comments that we ‘overachieved’ last year, I disagree completely.
I believe we were the most talented team in the Championship by some distance but failed due to inexperience, bad luck on injuries, and some poor tactical management by our coaching staff.
We’ve ramped up the talent pool this window, and the luck factor is of course out of our control but if you’re rational, you assume it evens out, yes?
Therefore, it comes down to our confidence in Tony Mowbray (I can’t call a middle-aged man ‘Mogga’) and his ability to make the right decisions in the dugout that leverages our talent advantage and also his flexibility to adapt to challenges and solve problems during a game.
Unfortunately, from being positive on his appointment last year, my confidence has waned considerably, as I see his tactical approach and listen to his press conferences.
I now have zero confidence as I see no spark of intellect, ability to problem solve, and tactical agility from Mowbray. His dull explanations and terrible press conferences offer a unique bovine demonstration on chewing chocolate, but breed zero confidence of a coach with a sharp tactically astute mind.
It’s a real conundrum for Kristjaan Speakman and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, and I think we can still squeak into the playoffs if we stick with the current course.
To fire Mowbray now will bring on the ire of those who love his homely ‘Hovis-style’ northern simplicity, so it’ll be unpopular in the short term. However, the bold move is to bite the bullet now and recognise that Mowbray can’t possibly take us to the level we aspire to, and that’s the Premier League.
Cardiff was a classic example, as he was the classic ‘rope-a-dope’ victim of a more accomplished opposition coach and it showed why we need change urgently.
Make Mowbray ‘Vice President of Youth Development’ on a good salary, but get him out of the decision making.
Can we afford to continue dropping points when our whole club plan is founded on promotion this year?
It’s a tough one, but I would be bold and get a new progressive head coach lined up and appointed before it’s too late.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Thanks for your letter!
As a fully paid-up member of the Tony Mowbray fan club, my simply answer would be no, I don’t feel that a change of head coach is the right move at this stage.
In my opinion, Mowbray has done, and continues to do, a sterling job.
Sunday’s defeat, though frustrating, wasn’t a case of him being outwitted. We lost due to a moment of defensive slackness after playing well for the majority of the game and with a little more sharpness up front, it would’ve been a different story.
Mowbray’s influence goes beyond tactics, as well. He’s helping to guide and develop our players; he’s the perfect father figure for this young squad, and it’s obvious that he trusts them and they have a lot of faith in him.
I don’t think now is the time to dismantle that, personally.
The season is young, there’ll be lots of ups and downs to come, and as we saw against Southampton, when we get it right under Mowbray, we can be a match for any team in the league.
At some point, he’ll move on, at which stage Speakman and company will doubtless cast their net far and wide for his replacement and someone who can build on the brilliant work he’s done. For now, though, I think his position should be secure.
Dear Roker Report,
We played well and lost against Cardiff, but there are several points that I hope that Tony Mowbray will consider.
Jack Clarke is a fantastic winger but teams are recognising this. As soon as he makes a run, three opposition players surround him, so he needs backup.
In my opinion, Hemir isn’t a Championship player and I don’t understand why Mowbray puts him on when there are better options. Let’s try out Nazariy Rusyn, who looks as though he has quality,
Mason Burstow should be sent back to Chelsea as he’s shown that he’s not a centre forward. Abdoullah Ba is OK on the wing until he gets down the field, but he then tries to dribble through defenders and loses the ball instead of crossing into the centre.
Patrick Roberts is a much better winger. He knows where the goal is and has the ability to get past defenders.
Put Clarke, Rusyn and Roberts up front and we’ll win more than we lose.
Best wishes to Roker Report - this is a great site.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Bill, thanks for getting in touch and for your kind words about our website.
We all know that Clarke and Roberts have game-changing quality, and in Clarke’s case, he certainly showed it at Ewood Park last week. Let’s hope he continues in the same vein!
When it comes to our striker situation, I don’t see Mason Burstow as a lost cause by any means.
He's clearly got potential and talent, having been highly rated at Chelsea, and perhaps it’ll take a little bit of time before we see him flourish for Sunderland. Tony Mowbray obviously sees him every day in training, and I’m sure he’ll make the right call for both the team and Burstow himself.
As for Rusyn, I think he’s a very exciting addition to our team. He’s clearly got pace, which is always a useful asset, and I’m eager to see how sharp he is in front of goal, too.
Ultimately, we have plenty of options, and as the season unfolds, each player may well have a key role to play as we aim to challenge for a top six finish once again.