The decision to sack Tony Mowbray was explained by Kristjaan Speakman as new boss Michael Beale responds to underwhelmed fans.
The Sunderland sporting director revealed at a press conference the reason as to what led them to make the difficult decision to part ways with Mowbray.
This was a relatively surprise move by the club considering the 60 year old had managed to guide the club to a playoff place in the Championship last season.
Not just that, but he left with the Black Cats sitting just three points outside the top six, with interim head coach Mike Dodds taking over until they found a permanent appointment, overseeing home wins against West Brom and Leeds, and a defeat at Bristol City last weekend.
Beale was named earlier this week, much to the disappointment of fans, who questioned how he was an upgrade from Mowbray.
A press conference was held at the Academy of Light with sporting director Speakman, who spoke about the decision to make a change.
Asked what had prompted him to act, Speakman said, as per Chronicle Live: “I appreciate the question, it’s a difficult one in an open forum to provide the full context. Ultimately the club is obsessed with progression and improving, and we felt to meet that we had to make a change.
“Do you make it early and it’s a surprise, and people are maybe concerned because it doesn’t weigh up with the results? Or do you make it [too late]?
“Michael comes into a team that is performing well, the team is in a good spot and doesn’t need picking up from a long, poor run of results. We felt it was the right time.”
Beale said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to join this club at this moment, with this type of squad and the vision and alignment in the club.
“It’s hugely exciting, with a lot of work to do. When we were going through the talks I became more excited as we went on.
“What I’ve seen from the first two days, and they’ve been busy, is enough for me to see what a fantastic opportunity this is. It’s the first opportunity since I left Rangers that really interested me, the first one where you sit in the room and speak and understand the way the club works, it really excites you.”
Speakman said of the appointment: “You have a bit of an understanding about the coaches on the circuit, and our paths had crossed a few times. We always try to ensure that we have a really good understanding of the coaches that are out there doing well, doing different things, and outperforming [expectation].
“Everything we’ve seen in the first two days from Michael is exactly what we thought we were getting. An excellent on-field coach, his preparations, his thought processes behind training and what the boys are doing is some of the best work I’ve seen.
“We’re really pleased he’s here. Sunderland is one of the biggest clubs in the country and will attract worldwide attention. We went into the decision with a clear understanding of what our shortlist looks like.
“What naturally then happens is you get bombarded from all different quarters about potential candidates. What we have is really clear criteria and a really clear process, so we then work through a really tough interview process to get the right person.
“You have to work through the speculation and the noise and stay laser focused on getting the right outcome, and we feel we’ve done that. We believe we’re better placed now.
“On-pitch results will always be the barometer of how people judge that, I’ve always said that what you see on a Saturday is a very small part of everything that goes on. There’s so much work on training, development and evolution behind the scenes and that’s what we want to keep driving forward, and that’s one of the reasons we chose Michael – we feel he can enhance that.
“We have to keep progressing and we know results are a huge part of that.”
Michael Beale has now given a response back to any Sunderland fans who left underwhelmed by his appointment.
When questioned what fans should make of his arrival after his sacking from Rangers in October, Beale said: “If you are going to work in football, work where it matters, where there is potential and expectation. I have arrived at a gigantic club.
“It took 20-plus years to get here. I did the hard yards at Chelsea and Liverpool and going to Brazil. I have worked with young players who have gone on to be the finest in this country. I have seen what elite looks like.
“I have had 300 games as an assistant manager in South America and the Premier League. I have played in European games. I have seen what there is to see. I stepped out on my own at QPR and everyone was in a positive way. I have come from a big club with lots of noise. Each job is different and you learn and grow. The players are the most important. I have to earn any credit.””
He said of the Sunderland fanbase: “They love their club, they are protecting it, and they are asking the right question of a man who is not from their area and has just left a club.
“I think I am the right person to be part of the Sunderland family and I will have to earn it for the fans. With results and taking the club forward.
“I would have to be living on the moon not to have seen (the gripes from fans), and some of the staff who have pushed me in the ribs with it! I will have to win them over. If I was worried about it I wouldn’t be here. I could accept an easier job.
“We sell out our home stadium. We have the biggest crowd in the Championship, and sell out away from home. We have that strength and weight behind the team.”
Beale went unrecognised for the club’s under 21s game on Monday night. He said: “I want to help the players fulfil their potential and the utopia would be to do that in the Premier League.
“The way the team plays has to reflect the hard work of the fans. I will not say anything now that will win the fans over. Over time the quality of my work will be the judgement from the fans of me. Whoever is manager the fans expect us to play football and build on the good work, the base Tony left.”
Beale adds that he spent his three months out of work travelling and getting a much needed refresh: “I took in four games in France and Belgium. I saw the Lisbon derby and went to Brazil to see some talent. I am fascinated by football cultures.
“I have tried my lousy Spanish and less lousy Portuguese in the last few days. Plus I’ve had time on my own to reflect and take a walk in your own shoes. You are better for that in life.”
Speakman said: “Michael is an on-the-grass coach and one of the best in the country.”
This is what Twitter users said with the decision to sack Tony Mowbray explained as Michael Beale responds to underwhelmed fans…
@GordonConlon: Not convinced. Speakman started his reign well signing British based players from the top premier league teams. The last 3 windows we have predominantly moved away from that in favour of foreign based players. None of which have made themselves automatic starters. Mowbrays fault?
@Tony_young78: He talks shite. Simple. I don’t believe a word he says.
@Jonphillips7777: Bollocks. He was sacked because he questioned KS after the Milwall game. If you do that you are toast. Too much power.
@DeanoCummings85: two extremely boring fellas sat at the table answering questions. let’s hope his football is decent on the pitch eh
@stevens87440: Deserves a chance. Mowbray neil were underwhelming, one failure in a job doesn’t define you as a bad coach, if you listen to current players all say he’s a fantastic coach and good tactician deserves a chance. #SAFC let’s get behind him and the players and see.
@FTM1042: I thought it was a very impressive press conference came across very well. Some these fans need to wind their necks in and get behind the Gaffer 🔴⚪️🐈⬛
@Fantanafest73: I don’t understand what some fans want. Appoint Mowbray, not ambitious enough. Sack Mowbray for someone younger and arguably more progressive with bags of coaching experience at the top levels of English football, Not ambitious enough 🤷♂️ I don’t get the whole ‘yes man’ thing. Every next coach is going to be a yes man. Did Beale not mention several times about the alignment of both him and the club. Any coach coming in has to be on board with the structure already in place. Until it’s not enough then they move on
@J0shuaJ0rdan: Came around well. Let’s get this Beale show on the road.
@RyanEvans29: He has the personality and charisma of a doorknob so that hasn’t changed since Rangers. I really want to give the benefit of the doubt but I also saw his Rangers product. The big difference could be he has no power in transfers. Let’s just see what happens on the pitch now
@CR017_: pretty confident he can do well here and I think the outrage is going to look embarrassing if it didn’t already
@MarleyHannan: He came across well, he seems to respect what’s been done and wants to just build on it, not strip apart the style like most managers would, he wants to add to what is already a great foundation
@hlbsafc1989: Spoke well, has the right mindset. Just hope the few give him the time.
@tommymcknight_: if he can convert those words into how we are going to play on the pitch we’re cooking