Sunderland dressing room reaction to Alex Neil exit revealed

Danny Batth says Sunderland's team spirit has helped them deal with Alex Neil’s sudden exit – with new head coach Tony Mowbray making a positive first impression.

Neil joined Championship rivals Stoke last month, after leading the Black Cats to promotion from League One, yet the side have remained competitive in the Championship, despite Monday’s 1-0 defeat at Middlesbrough.

“I think as players you have a level of professionalism,” Batth told the Echo when asked about events off the pitch. “When things happen around you it’s all about maintaining that inner belief and team spirit that has done so well for us.

“It’s a bit of a cliche but you have to sort of block out the outside noise and just look at what we can do well everyday in training and how we can win games as a group.

Danny Batth playing for Sunderland against Middlesbrough. Picture by FRANK REID

“Things like that can happen in football, it’s the same with players, one minute a player can be playing every week and the next minute a player could leave the club.

“As a group of players it’s about the team and how you stay together through any change.”

As a player with over 250 Championship appearances, Batth is one of the senior members who is seen as a leader in Sunderland’s squad.

Still, the 31-year-old says he wouldn’t alter his approach to take on more responsibility due to a head coach leaving.

"I wouldn’t be reactive to a change of circumstances at the club and that’s something that I have to do as a day in, day out job,” he added

“If I’m not doing it I’d be selling myself short.”

Mowbray was appointed within days of Neil’s departure and has been in charge just over a week at the Stadium of Light, taking charge of a 3-0 win over Rotherham and the defeat at Boro.

Asked what it’s been like working with the team’s new boss, Batth replied: “Really positive. He’s a real believer in how we’re playing and what we’re doing.

“Obviously he’ll add his own input with his great experience at this level and obviously his vast experience of playing the game.

“He can add a lot to the group.”