Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray opens up on Kyril Louis-Dreyfus talks
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Mowbray had only been out of the game for a short while following his departure from Blackburn Rovers in the summer, and on leaving the north west referenced a need to spend more time with family.
The new head coach explained how he had visited the Stadium of Light earlier this season as a guest of head of recruitment Stuart Harvey, who he worked with at Ewood Park. Part of the reason he was happy to do so was because he knew there would be no speculation about his presence, such was the success Alex Neil was enjoying in the role. He left hugely impressed by the team he watched.
After Neil’s shock departure Mowbray was impressed with Louis-Dreyfus' vision for recruitment and the growth of the club, in which developing talent will be central.
Jewison Bennette, Edouard Michut, Abdoullah Ba and Amad Diallo were all presented to the Stadium of Light crowd during the 3-0 win over Rotherham United, with Mowbray hinted after the game that there could be more to follow on deadline day.
Mowbray stressed the importance of the senior players in the group in providing balance but spoke enthusiastically about the project ahead.
“Having spoken to the owner, I genuinely think they have got a plan," he said.
"I didn’t feel as if I needed to get back into football so early. I talked about leaving Blackburn, having a rest, spending time with family, having some holidays and playing football with my kids in the back garden.
“But I feel as if there is a plan from the owners. They are not saying ‘Sunderland have to win the league this year’. They want to grow this club incrementally, they don’t want to spend £100 million this summer. Put talent and quality into your club and let it grow.
“I talked to them about the senior players. The senior players have to set the standard in the dressing room. Corry Evans and Danny Batths have to lead and they have to be good. They have to set the standard so the kids see how to be a footballer.
“Whether we're too young at the moment, we’ll have to wait and see. I mentioned Blackburn being the second youngest team in the league behind Barnsley who unfortunately got relegated. This team, there is a lot of talent that we have to let flourish. The senior players have to lead.
“Evans is a wonderful reader of the game and is brave and Batth is an old school central defender in the ilk of myself who win headers, competes and has a good voice.
“Let’s see how far we can take it but every transfer window, let's keep trying to grow good players into the club. The ones that come in, by the next window in a few months will be further developed and before you know it, you have got a club full of talent and the phones ringing from Premier League clubs and clubs in Europe for every player.
“You’ve got them young and they are not earning money where you can’t afford to keep them so I think that’s the plan.
“To keep the fans happy, you have to win football matches along the way," he added.
"It’s okay having a plan but you have to win games. I think the owners understand we aren’t going to win every match and we are going to have days where it doesn’t work for us but we have to keep believing, pushing on and going together."
Mowbray is still based in the North East and given his long association with the region, feels it's a good fit and that he has an understanding of what's expected from the players.
“It’s amazing to be here," he said.
"All the club’s mean a lot to me in the North East. I remember I was nine year old living in the council estate in Redcar and Sunderland won the FA Cup in 1973. Porterfield scores at the back stick against the mighty Leeds United and I remember jumping up and the teacher… we had the cane then in 1973 and you had to be careful.”
“I’m an emotional guy really," he added.
"I just love football and the North East teams, everybody should want to play for or manage because of the emotion and the passion.
"Football is about the people and the people of the North East, because of their working background, they bring emotion and passion to football and you have to feed it and feed off it as players.
"This is an industry city where people for centuries have grafted and got dirt under their fingernails, and these footballers have to work for the people who've paid money to come and watch them.
Mowbray says he has had plenty of well wishes from close friends on Teesside, where he remains a legendary figure. That is, starting from after the two sides meet next week.
“I’m delighted to be here, I have to say though my 13-year-old son who sits in the south stand at the Riverside Stadium isn’t too happy but he will come around I’m sure," he said.
“To be honest, I think all my mates are pleased for me. Everybody knows what an amazing football club this is and what an amazing opportunity.
“Everybody puts smiley emojis on that they wish us the best… after Monday night next week. That’s the way football works sometimes!"