Tony Mowbray looked deflated in the Kenilworth Road tunnel. His Sunderland side had just been beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Luton Town and their dreams of a double promotion had been dashed. His young side had been overwhelmed by a dominant and physical Luton side that deservedly made it to Wembley.
Having only been promoted last term through the League One play-offs, faced a whole host of key injuries and lost their manager Alex Neil in August, this has been a remarkable season for Sunderland and Mowbray himself. Yet now, he is reportedly fighting for his job with Matthias Jaissle, Francesco Farioli & Gerhard Stuber in contention to take over, according to TalkSPORT.
It’s a remarkable twist for the end of a wild season. Many Sunderland fans will feel disappointed about the result last night, but the decision to sack Mowbray will hurt far more, and for far longer. It’s hard to know what more he could have done to stay in the role.
When he took the job, survival was the primary objective, but as the season progressed, Sunderland began to climb a little higher. They flirted with the play-offs before returning to mid-table, however a nine game unbeaten run carried them to sixth place after the 46th game. It was a remarkable achievement for Mowbray’s men.
Without Ross Stewart, Dan Ballard and Danny Batth among others, his baby-faced team had torn Championship defences apart. Amad Diallo was sensational. A £40m player loaned to the Black Cats and who will now surely play a part in Manchester United’s next campaign. He was guided by Mowbray who has a way of getting the best out of exciting young players.
Joe Gelhardt, Jack Clarke and Dennis Cirkin also flourished under his leadership. So just one year into his two year contract, why on earth are Sunderland considering sacking him? He has outperformed expectations but it could be this that proves to be his downfall.
The ambition under young owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus is to return to the Premier League in the next few years and Mowbray seemingly wasn’t the man they thought could do that. He was the manager to consolidate them in the Championship, but when they had done that, they wanted to strive for promotion under a different boss.
Tony Mowbray reflects on tonight's game at Kenilworth Road... 📺👇
As a result of Mowbray’s remarkable efforts, the club are way ahead of schedule. They weren’t meant to finish in the top six this term, they weren’t even meant to finish in the top half. They’ve done unbelievably well under their current boss, but now it feels as though the owners want to fast-track their way to the Premier League.
After a long spell at Blackburn Rovers, Mowbray wasn’t able to take the final step and get them back to the top flight. It seems as though Sunderland don’t want to waste time in the division if they are ahead of schedule, and if the manager they do want to take them to the Premier League is available now - they want to get him in as soon as possible.
This is a sign of ambition, but it could massively backfire. Mowbray is a safe pair of hands, and has proved this season that he understands Sunderland, and has what it takes to drag them forward. They were so close to beating Luton over two legs, a squad that is far superior to theirs at this level and for him to lose his job this summer would be a worrying sign of the times.
Success shouldn’t get you sacked and Mowbray deserves far more than to be thrown to one side after a remarkable campaign.
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