When Alex Neil left Sunderland at the end of last week, the Black Cats were once again diving into the manager market to see what they could find.
The Sunderland board may have seen Neil’s departure coming, with Mowbray sat in the stands watching the season opener against Mowbray’s old team - Coventry City.
Many fans were expecting a younger Head Coach, like a Liam Manning or an Anthony Barry. Instead, Sunderland appointed experienced head Tony Mowbray as their 13th permanent manager in the last ten years.
This appointment may not be as ‘boring’ as some see it. We saw from his time at Blackburn that his teams are youthful and exciting. Players such as Ben Brereton Diaz, Tyrhys Dolan and Jan Paul Van Hecke are just three examples of young players who flourished under Mowbray’s stewardship. With the Mackem’s signing nine* outfield players this summer, all under the age of 23, you could argue that Tony Mowbray is the perfect fit for the youngsters.
Sunderland have started the season playing with a three at the back system and this is a style which suits Mowbray, having played this system with his Rovers team. It should be an easy transition for Mowbray and while he didn’t take the Lancashire team to the Premier League, his team showed a steady progression in his four years in the Championship, which is exactly what Sunderland need!
For years now Sunderland have had season after season of fighting against relegation or fighting for promotion, so fans may appreciate a campaign in which they can relax – being clear of relegation and probably not pushing for promotion.
Mowbray did win his first game in charge at the Stadium of Light, with a 3-0 demolition job of Rotherham. He did, however, put this solely down to the re-existing coaching staff who prepared the team before he arrived. Speaking to local media after the game, he said:
“I didn’t do much tonight; it was down to the coaches who have worked with the team for the last few weeks.
“A lot of credit goes to the coaches working with the team.”
Whilst Mowbray might not be the man to take Sunderland back to the Premier League, he *probably* won’t be the man that takes them back down to League One!
*Leon Dajaku, Jack Clarke, Dan Ballard, Aji Alese, Ellis Simms, Abdoullah Ba, Edouard Michut, Amad Diallo, Jewison Bennette