Tony Mowbray issues ‘proud’ Sunderland verdict but makes stark striker admission

Sunderland are three games without a win following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Plymouth Argyle. Tony Mowbray was delighted of his Sunderland side’s performance against Millwall but thinks they are severely lacking in the final third.

Sunderland enjoyed possession but struggled to test the opponent goalie, leaving them trailing thanks to Kevin Nisbet’s goal. Sunderland played without a striker after a triple replacement early in the second half, and the added experience of Bradley Dack, Alex Pritchard, and Patrick Roberts made a noticeable difference. Sunderland earned a point thanks to Jack Clarke’s penalty, though Anthony Patterson made some key late stops.


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“I thought we dominated the game except for the last ten minutes when we scored.” You’d think we’d be laying siege to their main goal at that point, but it was the other way around.

“But, as you’ve seen, we can control a game but don’t appear to be capable of scoring a goal.” They had isolated breakaways, and I thought we dominated for extended stretches without appearing like we were going to score. On Wednesday, we had 74% possession and 27 shots, with one goal coming from a set play. It was the same in Plymouth.

“We don’t appear to be scoring – I believe this is because we have inexperienced strikers who aren’t quite ready to play for our team at the moment, but they have to play, and we are playing them.” We’re working hard to develop them and get them up to speed so they can play striker in the Championship.

“Alex, Bradley… they’re talented footballers. I’m content with the team and proud of their performance. When playing against Millwall, if you allow them to control possession, they’ll capitalize by delivering the ball into your box consistently. They create numerous opportunities within seconds, even initiating with a long throw into the box. It’s crucial to stand firm and handle such situations, and I thought Ballard coped exceptionally well against Cooper.

“We maintained control but lacked a decisive cutting edge. Ballard had a chance to score in the second half, and Clarke earned us a penalty. However, we didn’t produce enough shots or final product.

“I intend to continue offering chances to young players, be it in the forward line or elsewhere on the pitch. It’s a challenging balancing act,” Mowbray mentioned. “Ultimately, it’s not solely my decision; the club aims to nurture young talents by granting them opportunities. My role is to provide them with that chance.”

“During the game, my instinct tells me that we need to make changes because my primary goal is to secure a win. That’s the truth—I’m dedicated to developing young players, helping them build successful careers, even if at times they might not be entirely prepared. It’s essential they gain game time, experience the intensity of the Championship. I committed to this approach when I took on the role.

“I’m actively implementing this strategy by selecting and fielding young talents. I am at ease with this approach, but there comes a point, around 55 minutes in, where I’m still eager for us to take shots and score. So, I opt for players whom I believe can turn the game around. As a club, we aspire to take bold steps, and part of that is providing opportunities for young players to demonstrate their abilities on the pitch. That’s our approach.”


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