Sunderland: Tony Mowbray won’t be copying Gareth Ainsworth in QPR game.
TONY MOWBRAY has the utmost respect for Gareth Ainsworth – although he won’t be trying to copy the QPR manager’s dress sense when the pair lock horns at Loftus Road this afternoon.
Ainsworth, whose Wycombe side lost to Sunderland in the League One play-off final a couple of seasons ago, is one of the more idiosyncratic managers operating in the Football League.
The frontman of a rock band, ‘The Cold Blooded Hearts’, the long-haired 50-year-old tends to stride across his technical area in boots, skintight jeans and a leather jacket, a look Mowbray freely admits he could not really pull off.
“I’ve always liked him,” said Mowbray. “He’s just a bit unusual for a football manager because we don’t really see many with a leather jacket on and a shirt down below the waist.
“I don’t think I could get away with it, although you’ve got to respect and love that. Luke (O’Nien) played for him, and he can’t speak highly enough of him.”
While Ainsworth has spent most of managerial career in the lower leagues with Wycombe, he has crossed paths with Mowbray on a number of occasions, not least because of their shared links with Blackburn Rovers.
“He’s a Blackburn lad,” said the Sunderland boss. “He started at Blackburn as a kid, so we used to talk about that every now and then. He probably could have got the Blackburn job, and I’m sure it would have been a job he would have loved as well, but I’m pleased he got the chance at QPR.
“He’s just a good, honest guy, really. He’s a normal bloke who talks sense. He doesn’t talk in riddles, he says what he sees.”
Ainsworth’s QPR side were tipped to struggle this season, but they head into today’s game sitting in 17th position in the table after picking up six points from their opening five games.
“They won 2-0 at Middlesbrough in their last game, which was a great result for them, so we have to be mindful of the threats that they carry,” said Mowbray. “People talk about Ilias Chair, who is a wonderful talent, but they’ve also got Andre Dozzell, and it’s going to be hard for any team this season to score a better goal than the one he got at Middlesbrough.
“They’ve got threats, they’re playing at home and will have a raucous crowd, so we’ve got to go there and try to impose ourselves on the football match. But we’ll be very respectful of how hard they’re going to work and how organised they are.”
Sunderland (probable, 4-2-3-1): Patterson; Hume, O’Nien, Ballard, Cirkin; Neil, Ekwah; Roberts, Dack, Clarke; Bellingham.